‘Innovating Innovation’ at Carnegie Melon University’s Integrated Innovation Institute

Innovation is just something that happens by sheer will, creativity or happenstance right? Wrong. Not according to Carnegie Melon University whose brand new Integrated Innovation Institute sets out to prove that innovation can indeed be innovated.

The new centre combines the know-how of the university's top-ranked College of Engineering, School of Design and Tepper School of Business, to give master's students a holistic grounding in all three inter-related disciplines in a bid to “accelerate new product and service creation” according to a recent press release.

Process Industry Innovation

Innovation can be studied, formalized, taught and continuously improved upon

It's a model that Jonathan Cagan – institute co-director, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering – believes can be a blueprint for ongoing success.

He said, "Innovation can be studied, formalized, taught and continuously improved upon with new knowledge. We've elevated collaboration to a new plane, and what we're doing could only come out of Carnegie Mellon's rich history of interdisciplinary work."

"Global business challenges demand a new breed of executive talent,” continues Peter Boatwright, co-director and Professor of Marketing at the Tepper School of Business. “Our integrated innovation tenets force students outside their previous training and comfort zones, creating hybrid thinkers and doers."

Exploring vexing societal problems

The new institute's timely launch comes amid results of an Accenture study that suggests a combination of scant systematic processes and bold ideas have been stalling commercial products and services from coming to market en masse and at pace.

To address these issues, Carnegie Melon has piloted an 'innovation laboratory' where they say “graduate student teams tackle corporate-sponsored cases with real-world rigor and accountability, and where institute-funded projects explore vexing societal problems.”

Carnegie innovation laboratory

They add, “Carnegie Mellon's model of integrated innovation upends the traditional linear, silo approach to new product development, and enhances the effectiveness of thinking and results.”
The university has even extended its remit of integrated innovation to tackle 'pressing societal issues,' with a range of experiential capstone projects.

An example of which is a prototype self-sustainable purification system that destroys harmful bacteria using the weight of water alone. “Such a system could potentially provide clean, safe and affordable drinking water to millions of people living in areas with poor sanitation conditions,” they claim.

Carnegie Mellon – a global research university

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff. Since Carnegie's inception in 1900, innovation has been at its core. To the extent that it it now heralded as a global leader in bringing groundbreaking ideas and successful start-ups to market.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-2014 ranked CMU the 24th best university in the world and a Wall Street Journal poll in 2010 found that job recruiters ranked it first for computer science, fourth for finance and seventh in business.

They have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, as well as worldwide degree-granting programs in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

Find out more about CMU's Integrated Innovation Institute. For those already in the field and seeking Continuing Professional Development visit PD How2.

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