The Innoplore Value Proposition
In the following pages, I would briefly highlight some of the major issues and observed challenges, which are associated with the academia in terms of promoting the innovative spirit and entrepreneurial mindset among their students and faculty members, as well as transforming their intellectual output into real-life products and solutions, and successful and sustainable enterprises. Followed by that, I would also suggest some key value proposition for the envisioned Innoplore community and platform to effectively address the raised issues.
The Observed Challenges
1. Most of our universities and their delivered educational programs are primarily geared towards producing the graduates who could be employed after their graduation, and easily fit into the existing job markets; however the employability mindset and “fit-in” benchmark largely leaves the universities at the recipient end (i.e. “the trend followers”), whose job fundamentally then remains to support the existing trends and established trajectories by producing the “cogs” in their “production factories” with more or less similar set of skills, knowledge and competences; so they could smoothly fit into the economic wheel. Unfortunately, this approach is proved to be counter-productive to appreciating the individuality, differentiation, diversity and heterogeneity, which are the key drivers for thriving innovation. Hence, the universities are required to enhance their mandate and scope from merely following and supporting the current market trends, towards producing innovators, entrepreneurs, critical scholars, visionary leaders and future employers who could positively challenge the routine practices and established status quo, and could set the future trends, shape the policies, reform societies and create new economic trajectories.
2. The second major challenge commonly faced with the universities is their inability to fully capitalize on the intellectual output produced inside the university premises; so that the students’ classroom learning, discussions, lab experiments and coursework projects; as well as the researchers and faculty members’ committed research and publications are effectively transformed into creating real-life products and solutions, and further into developing social and business enterprises, which could create the desired social and economic value for themselves and for the society at large. Most of the academic ideas, insights and research output often remain confined within the academic premises; either in form of the coursework projects submitted by students to collect the desired course grades in order to complete their respective degree programs, or alternatively remain part of the thesis and paper repositories published by researchers and faculty members to gain maximum academic citations and recognition to be academically promoted. But unfortunately, all those academic activities do not make any real change or create any significant impact on the society. Therefore, this is the need of the hour to make a paradigm shift in the way universities interact and engage with the society and economy.
3. The third most commonly observed challenge is the absence of the required support ecosystem to nurture innovation and entrepreneurship in the academic premises. This is partly due to the existing trust-deficit and a weak social capital in our society, as well as due to the incapability of the support-seekers and idea promoters to easily get connected with the right people and required resources in their surrounding community to turn their ideas into reality. Thus, we need to strengthen and nourish the support ecosystem around the university campuses; so that the innovators and entrepreneurs could easily connect with the required support. This requires creating a connecting platform and strong community, which facilitates the flow of ideas, passion, experiences, expertise and resources between the help-seekers and supporters.
The Proposed Solutions
1. Innoplore aims at creating a university-based global community of innovators, entrepreneurs and critical scholars who would pursue the teaching, research and educational practices from a different perspective. Innoplore runs a global campaign to support this mission to transform the traditional universities into innovation-led “Entrepreneurial Universities”.
2. To support the above mission, Innoplore aims at providing a one-stop solution and a comprehensive virtual platform to help turn innovative and entrepreneurial ideas into technically feasible and economically viable products and solutions, and to help transform those tested products and solutions into sustainable businesses and social enterprises. Innoplore particularly targets the university students, researchers and faculty members, so they could easily translate their coursework projects, lab experiments, class discussions, and academic insights into real-life products, solutions and enterprises.
3. Innoplore aims at creating a global market of help-seekers (projects creators and team members) and supporters from the surrounding communities (individuals and institutions), where the requested support is provided either free of cost (if possible) or alternatively offered at below the market prices. An extensive list of all support activities (more than 60 activities) are systematically listed under the categories of idea creation, mentorship, building connections, developing skills, funding and donations, sponsorship, loans and investments, product development and venture development, and a wide range of other essentially required support activities and services. The supporters can be systematically searched and filtered out based on their location (city, region, country, or at global scale), profession, qualification, industry/sector, and through the provided list of support activities.
4. Innoplore provides a simple template through which any idea can be uploaded to create a formal project outline to be shared with others in order to build the project team. Innoplore provides a virtual workspace to the project team members and supporters on the “project dashboard”. The project team members and supporters can share their ideas and project documents using the provided multi-gigabytes space and an integrated communication chatroom. The platform provides the flexibility to either keep the project status as “open/shared” to be partly viewed by other community members in order to effectively seek the public support (such as crowd funding), or otherwise keep the project status as “closed/in-group” to limit the access to project idea only to enrolled project team members with end-to-end encryption to keep it fully confidential.
5. The platform will create the opportunity to enroll the projects into a unique multi-stage incubation program of 3-6 months duration, which would help projects to successfully complete the enrolled projects step by step, following the provided guidelines in order to turn ideas into a viable products and successful enterprises. The supporting tools, APIs, templates, canvas and online available resources will be provided at one place within each defined stage of the project development. The virtual incubation program would also connect the project team members to have one-to-one sessions in form of video-conferencing with the experts of each stage of project development. Innoplore will also provide graduation certificates to the team members of the successful projects that would complete the incubation program. The certificates will be issued by our international program sponsors and partners.
6. In order to further enrich the community experience, the platform provides the features of writing and reading insightful blog posts on the topics related to best practices in innovation, entrepreneurship, startup stories, entrepreneurial challenges, innovation policies, and strategies. To keep the community members stay informed and fully updated, all the important local and international events (conferences, seminars, summits and startup days) would be systematically listed, along with the recent news feeds on new developments in the fields of innovation and entrepreneurship. Organizational members are enabled to create and publicize their own events at this platform. Organizational members can also become the community “partners”, and they can sponsor the community initiatives as part of their “Corporate Social Responsibilities” (CSR) initiatives, and their logos are accordingly published at Innoplore website to help them build their market reputation and to reach out to the global community.
7. Furthermore, organizational members can create “Innovation Contests” or idea competitions on different themes to solve their corporate issues and public-sector challenges with help of the intellectual and innovative contributions of the global community member. The community members can participate in these competitions or contests to receive financial rewards, prizes, certifications, opportunity of internships and other types of rewards. Members can also create and participate in survey polls at Innoplore to learn about the community opinion on different issues. The researchers can also have an opportunity here to know the public opinion and current trends of the global community.
8. The community members would be able to build (or upload) their CVs at Innoplore on the provided template to benefit from our internship portal, which will help the students find the suitable paid or experience-based internship opportunities in different industries or sectors, and thus get an insight of the future job markets after the completion of their education. The industrial and market players can also have an opportunity to head-hunt the best talents from universities through the internship portal at Innoplore.
9. The supporters, investors, sponsors, mentors, service providers, industry and market players can have access to a vibrant marketplace where they can build their strategic ties, relations and market reputation through helping the new generation of innovators, entrepreneurs and future employers. The individual supporters would benefit from supporting others through spreading the virtue of sharing, as what goes around comes around. On the other hand, the professional market players may also seek for the commercial value out of supporting the global community of young innovators and entrepreneurs through serving them the offered services below the market prices. The organizational supporters may explore the social and strategic benefits of participating into this community initiative as part of their CSR programs and initiatives, considering the fact that the best mode of sustainable charity is not about providing a fish to a poor man as a one-time meal, but it is to help him learn how to catch a fish in order to find a sustainable solution to hunger and poverty.
10. The universities, teachers and researchers can help the society by producing a whole new generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, critical scholars and future employers to shape the economy and society. Innoplore can be considered here as a facilitating platform towards achieving the envisioned goal.
11. The incubators, accelerators, and other types of innovation & entrepreneurship centers should consider Innoplore as their partner, since it essentially complements their efforts by providing a virtual platform and workspace to the innovative entrepreneurs, and help them connect with these specialized centers, which are located within their physical proximity.
12. The governments and public-sector institutions can also potentially see Innoplore as their partner in their mission to transform their local communities and national institutions into innovative and entrepreneurial entities through promoting entrepreneurial culture and support ecosystem; so they could competently lead in today’s knowledge-based and innovation-led global economy, and hence build the foundation for a sustainable society.