Innovation Caucus Internship – Steve Workman
Oxford Brookes doctoral research student, Steve Workman, recently completed a three month internship with Innovate UK. Steve won the internship through an open competition run by the Innovation Caucus and chaired by Professor Tim Vorley, Associate Dean and Professor of Entrepreneurship at Sheffield University Management School. Steve’s application involved writing an essay, entitled ‘Millennials Do it On Demand: Millennials, Innovation and Decision Making’, which contrasted the more immediate, technology enabled decision-making of Millennials with that of Baby Boomers and Generation X.
Working alongside Dr Emily Nott, Head of Diversity and Inclusion Programmes at Innovate UK, Steve made a valuable contribution to the ‘Ideas Mean Business’ programme, which encourages Millennials to innovate and take an entrepreneurial route into employment, by starting their own businesses. Steve produced a series of papers, including ‘Mapping the Support Landscape for Young Entrepreneurs from Disadvantaged and Diverse Backgrounds’ and ‘Millennials: The Role of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Combating Disadvantage’.
This internship provided Steve with the opportunity to work on a live, leading edge project, aimed a tackling an important social problem. Commenting on his internship Steve stated:
‘In my professional career I did a lot of work with organisations like Business in the Community and the Prince’s Trust, to encourage young people into employment with major businesses. Innovate UK’s ‘Ideas mean Business’ project took a new and potentially more rewarding approach, by supporting young people to develop their own businesses. It was fascinating to gain insights into both the enablers and the barriers facing young people. I really enjoyed working with the Innovate UK and Innovation Caucus teams and seeing my work shape the development of the project. I would certainly recommend this type of internship, which broadens one’s academic and business horizons’.
This is an excellent example of how internships can add value to the work of Innovate UK, by aligning with and feeding directly into their programmes of activity. Emily Nott, who supervised Steve’s internship, said:
‘This placement gave us much needed extra capacity to undertake an in-depth piece of research. Steve brought an alternative perspective and generated valuable new insights into how entrepreneurship and our Young Innovators programme can help young people overcome disadvantage by turning their ideas into successful businesses.’
There were direct benefits from this internship for the young people participating in the programme, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, who gained from Innovate UK’s deeper insight into their specific barriers and support needs. There is also potential to derive wider societal impacts from supporting young people, who may struggle with traditional employment, to go down a self-employment route.
Economic benefits include the potential cost savings from reducing the numbers of young people who are not in sustainable employment, as well as the multiplier effects of creating exciting, cutting edge new businesses.
This internship also highlights the potential for Innovate UK to engage with a wider range of stakeholders, increasing its visibility and impact, by exchanging perspectives and expertise. There is further potential for the Innovation Caucus to help broker relationships between Innovate UK, academia, businesses, public sector agencies and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector.
For further information about this internship, please email Emily Nott, Head of Diversity and Inclusion Programmes at Innovate UK, Emily.Nott@innovateuk.gov.uk
Innovation Caucus internship – Matjaz Vidmar
My exciting journey with the Innovation Caucus started one rainy morning in Spring 2017, when by chance I spotted an advertisement for internship applicants doing the rounds over email. This was followed by an email from my supervisor, asking all of his PhD students if we have seen the call and whether we were interested. Not being someone who declines any opportunity, my reply was immediate – yes!
Having found out about the Innovation Caucus and its work some months previously, when putting together a notice for the departmental newsletter about our engagement with policy, I was really excited by the opportunity to further translate my research interest into useful knowledge for policy-making. Having applied and made it through to the interview, I was ecstatic! Speaking to Tim and his team was interesting and inspiring, and once I was offered the internship, it took even less time than before to say “yes” and accept it.
As I am really passionate about my PhD research topic (social aspects of technology development and innovation) and my subject matter (Space Industry – yes, the stuff “up there”) I took quite some convincing to take on new challenges within the Innovation Caucus brief. In part, this was because I really wanted to create a new space of shared knowledge and sense-making, i.e. to challenge the theoretical concepts with empirical findings and policy realities – and I could only envisage doing so within the topics about which I was already somewhat knowledgeable.
However, in discussion with Innovate UK and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), I did eventually reshape my interest into developing a broader framework and typology of innovation intermediation in any geographically bound sectoral system of innovation. This was of value to Innovate UK, since it supported the ongoing development of their portfolio of Catapults and Knowledge Transform Networks, as well as other projects and policies.
This experience was a great lesson for me, not only in working with and delivering for a policy-making system, but also in expanding my own research interests into domains I did initially find uncomfortable. Presenting the headline findings of this work at one of the most prestigious innovation conferences in the world, DRUID (2018), helped me appreciate the power of broader generalisation of academic knowledge, in order to achieve more substantial societal impact.
The lessons learned and experiences from this project also enabled me to engage better with new concepts, unfamiliar settings and unknown stakeholders in my subsequent work. For instance, these skills have proved critical in working on a consultancy project for the OECD and as a Research Assistant in academia.
I have to express my big thanks to Tim and his team for their support and mentorship and to all involved with the Innovation Caucus, particularly Innovate UK and the ESRC teams involved with my internship. It was your determination and generosity that turned this project from a 3-month desk-job into a transformational professional journey.
You can find out more about Matjaz and his work at his research webpage: www.roe.ac.uk/~vidmar
For further information about this internship, please email Tim Vorley, Principal Investigator for the Innovation Caucus, email@example.com