How to contract with a 3rd Party (Betaversity) to install and launch an innovation space
This article discusses key strategies to initiate change by creating new spaces on your campus for design and innovation. To start, one could contract with the third party company, BetaVersity, that designs spaces and environments which spark inspiration, generate creativity and works to build out innovation ecosystems on campuses. In their initial investigation to assess demand for their first project, the BetaVersity found that 84% of students wanted more entrepreneurship at their universities, and 45% of students replied that they would transfer to a university that did have these spaces. These spaces not only provide a collaborative environment for idea generation and invention among students, they help universities attract high level students and retain existing students who are seeking engagement in entrepreneurship and innovation!
Need and Goals
BetaVersity first meets with the client, such as a universitry, and discusses the client's needs, goals and general scope of the project. The program and design of the space can be adapted to what the university already has and what they are looking to offer. After BetaVersity meets with the decision makers, BetaVersity engages with the student community, undertaking independent research through surveys and discussions with students about their needs and goals. To evaluate exisitng spaces and resources on campus, BetaVersity brings in their idea and equipment teams to determine how the scope of the space can tap into existing resources.
This is important! Be mindful of what the university requires in order to create new spaces and associated programs and curriculums for those spaces. A university is bureaucratic and likely has myriad policies in place regarding responsibility and oversight of certain programs and decisions. Familiarize yourself with these policies and AT THE VERY LEAST, meet with a sponsoring faculty member, the Dean, and a few student leaders. Ideally you will meet with as many people as possible, including Deans and other decision makers, as well as students to assess interest on campus.
Stimulate interest and integrate personnel at the university or organization to be advocates for the project. Work with faculty members and student leaders who can rally the student community and reach a wider audience on the ground. Where possible, speak with leadership, alumni and even the greater professional community to make them aware of the project, its intent and the innovation it will yield! This community support will be central to maintaining the excitement, enery and engagement in this space as time goes on.
The creation space that BetaVersity is now launching was funded by the College of Engineering at UC Davis. BetaVersity is, however, a full service company that can help to identify outside sources of fudning and acquire it. University funding that is set aside for investment in this space is used first, then BetaVersity helps identify sponsorships and grants in order to bring in more funding for the space.
The creation space at the University of California, Davis is located within the College of Engineering because that is the organization that funded the project. Altough it is starting out as a space that will be primarily used for engineering students, it is open to anyone on campus. The more students that use the space, the more potential for these spaces to expand and replicate across campus.
It will be an ongoing experiment to see how students use the space. BetaVersity is full service! BetaVersity not only designs and implements the space, it provides a curriculum for ways to use the space and how to promote continual engagement with the resources it provides. Students interested in building ideas would come to this space on campus for prototyping and idea generation to aid in starting new student ventures.
It is not JUST about the materials and tools within the space, it is more about the people within it and the student community engagement in activities held within it.
Continue to add value with content. For example, BetaVersity provides ongoing services that help to continually build the student community. For the long term, they help to facilitate the ongoing usage of the space in order to sustain it. After the space is launched, they offer consulting support and provide curriculums for the spaces they implement.
To launch the new space at UC Davis, BetaVersity held a Friday to Sunday Hack-a-thon. The BetaVersity team brought in students to teach them about ideation and prototyping through workshops and hands-on interaction. This launch was meant to demonstrate to students how the space could be used moving forward.
Lessons Learned and Ingredients for Success
- The success of this community ultimately depends on the students
- If you are able to engage passionate student leaders, it will help the space become dynamic, sustainable and successful
- Interact with and gain support from multiple levels at the university in order to rally around the space for idea generation