PERSPECTIVES

GRAND INNOVATION CHALLENGE

Mok O’Keeffe, founder of The Innovation Beehive was recently invited to The University of Bath to judge the Final of The Grand Innovation Challenge 2019.
The Grand Innovation Challenge 2019 was an eight week programme in which 25 students from various disciplines and levels – ranging from undergraduate to PHD – used Human Centred Design to solve global societal challenges.
Mok O’Keeffe, founder of The Innovation Beehive was recently invited to The University of Bath to judge the Final of The Grand Innovation Challenge 2019.
The Grand Innovation Challenge 2019 was an eight week programme in which 25 students from various disciplines and levels – ranging from undergraduate to PHD – used Human Centred Design to solve global societal challenges.

GRAND INNOVATION CHALLENGE

Throughout the day, we listened to five groups pitch their ideas to solve societal challenges – one key theme consisted of solving problems around electric vehicles (EVs).

Mamboo Volt: Putting Yourself in the Position of the Customer

Firstly, we heard from a group who created the ‘Mamboo Volt’. This group sought out insight of problems that customers were facing with their EV and defined the key problem to be charging the car. The biggest challenges were centred on the lead to charge the vehicle – ranging from trip hazards to dirt being trailed in the car once the charging lead was stored away.

As a result, Mamboo Volt was prototyped –an innovative solution, which they affectionately compared to a bright green mamba snake!

Overall, this group concluded by saying that innovation “…is a procedure where you need to put yourself into the position of the customer.”

The Bat Box – A Business Model Innovation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The second group we heard from designed ‘The Bat Box’. Gaining insight into the problem’s customers were facing with EVs, this group’s insights led to their defined problem – range anxiety. This meant consumers feared that their car would run out charge and they would struggle to find a place to charge.

Customers were anxious that their car would run out of battery before reaching their desired destination. Further into their research, this group gained stimulus from the likes of electric scooters in Taiwan which helped them to develop their innovative business solution.

Unlike many early stage innovations, their solution was focused on solving a business model challenge rather than a product challenge. They recognised that customers would have needs wherever they were, and their solution delivered this.

During the Q&As, Mok asked if they had gained any new skills, in response we heard that “Diversity is the advantage as we all had different background. It taught us to behave rationally.”

Volt Drive – Insight Driven Solutions

The third group presented ‘Volt Drive’. Through insight interviews with customers they discovered that key issues around EVs include lack of access to testing, range anxiety as well as cultural perception. From this, they defined the problems and prototyped an innovative app for businesses to integrate EVs into their company car fleets.

The impressive aspect of this idea is its focus not on serving the end user, but on working with business. Business partnerships could offer significantly more revenue than individual customers.

The greatest strength of this group was their diversity. Bringing together their different skills allowed them to thoughtfully think around all the areas of their product.

KnowledgEv – Beyond product, to a people first solution

The next group took a different approach to EV and came up with their idea of ‘KnowledgEv’. Through micro and macro analysis, they found that consumers were fearful of the future of cars, a fear of the unknown and financial fears of buying an EV.

Using Human Centred Design, they defined the key issue to be the lack of knowledge around EVs. As a result, they prototyped another innovative solution, which focused on fixing the knowledge gap, rather than building product or service solutions.

Their approach is interesting as it is about providing a service, rather than a product or app. This is a novel response to the brief and demonstrates the experimental mindset required to tackle challenges in uncertain times.

Swarm – prototyping with what you have

The final group took a different approach to solving societal challenges and focused their product on issues with the highways – more specifically potholes. Through intensive research, they found that if an individual spots a pothole, they are unlikely to report it as they might forget about it or not have time. This insight led them to seek a solution which combined relatively simple technology with knowhow developed in their studies. Swarm was created to crack the challenge of potholes by empowering the public, through technology, to easily report potholes in their communities.

It was clear that this group used its range of degree subjects to prototype their product – ranging from business to mathematics.

The efforts of these groups were extraordinary – from the designing process of apps to writing code that automatically scanned a road. After much deliberation, the judges chose the winning team to be Swarm as they had demonstrated a real understanding of the problem, a clear strategy for managing the stakeholders affected, and an idea that commercial value. They demonstrated great team work and proved that innovation can be found in a variety of places – even pot holes!

Overall, we heard from a diverse group of students with different backgrounds. The collective effort of the groups entwined with Human Centred Design to create five innovative ideas by putting themselves into the position of the customer.

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