Priorities:Macquarie University Faculty Projects

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Project Name: Putting the ‘I’ in TEAM

where I is Innovation

Project by Faculty Innovation Fellows Candidate Melanie Lewis

Why is this project important to you, your department, & your Fellows?

We have all heard at one time or another that there is no ‘i’ in ‘team’ – a leadership saying designed to illuminate that teamwork is a collaborative endeavour and one in which we work together to achieve shared goals; it’s the ‘we’ not the ‘me’ that gets this work done most effectively. As an increasingly important employee capability, teamwork in post-pandemic online environments might now even call for working with peers you’ve never met before. Organisations look to universities to provide young people not only with specialised knowledge but also the developmental skills that create capable employees. It is with this in mind that we look to empower our students at Macquarie University with the best possible learning experience and one that enhances their future problem-solving abilities and provides innovative, collaborative team players ready to tackle diverse challenges in any workplace. In fact, our tagline is YOU(US)

  1. YouToThePowerOfUs

As Expert-in-Residence at the Macquarie University Incubator, as well as a University Innovation Fellow myself, I believe that the’s UIF program provides an effective framework for us to be able to better deliver collaborative and innovative team players to the future workforce, where problem-solving and creative thinking will be major contributors to creating a better, more just world. This project proposal creates our internal support structure to enable MQi to support the development of our UIF extension.


Our own data from the past 12 months shows a concerning trend: students are failing to experience campus offerings that create meaningful friendships, build teamwork skills, and participate in a learning environment they hoped for at university. Our inaugural UIF team uncovered groupwork frustrations, and a lack of connection to peers was a shared experience amongst first and second year students that were yet to realise a university journey like that of pre-COVID times. The Macquarie University Incubator (MQi) is a leading innovation hub, connecting students, startups, scale-ups, academic researchers and local organisations in our precinct. This allows us to offer a wide range of value to the University and leverage the network to stimulate new innovation projects. I would like to combine the power of this network to develop our UIF offering. Phase One of this project has been realised by securing funding for our inaugural team, who now go on to implement various activities that are aimed at increasing student awareness of MQi and of the fun to be had in the I&E space. These activities will unite students of all faculties by taking place within the newly opened Central Courtyard (the socialisation hub on campus). To capitalise on and complement these activities, I propose to develop a dedicated student space where students can participate in both structured and unstructured activities that introduce and/or further develop their creative problem-solving and design-thinking abilities. I envision a three-pronged outcome from this endeavour: i) supported student-led change activities; ii) increased cross-faculty collaboration, iii) enhanced network capabilities to create theory-to-practice experiences facilitated by MQi. The MQi has recently secured a new building within the precinct that can allow a student space to be designed and developed. I would like to use what I have learnt throughout my own UIF journey to co-design this space with our UIF team and other students and faculty members across campus. This activity in itself will provide the scaffolding for the coming together of currently-siloed departments that are also physically segregated across our vast campus grounds. The allocated space is located in a prime position, close to the university's entrance from the adjacent shopping and business precincts and servicing metro (train) station. It is within a high foot-traffic area alongside major faculties such as the business school and houses co-working spaces for our resident startups and scaleups. Activities I believe could be supported by such a space include: Maker Space (low fi prototyping space) Lunch & Learn’s (presentations by expert speakers) Student Shareouts (presentations by students) MQi Shorts (connecting startup problems to student design challenges) Hang Out (UIF Headquarters) As part of my project, I would aim to pilot these activities - and more - in order to test their efficacy in creating a space that students love and connect with.

Stakeholders served

  1. Students - alumni from our existing programs
  2. Students - new recruits from UIF activities in the CC
  3. UIF Team - inaugural and ongoing members
  4. Campus Innovation Manager - who has expressed interest in enhancing the UIF program offering
  5. MQi Startup ecosystem residents
  6. Spin Off academic community
  7. University Executives (I&E Director, Dean, VC)

Key Milestones

  • December 2022: Full Proposal to I&E Director
  • March 2023: Co-design Design Challenge developed
  • June 2023: Space operational
  • September 2023: Program integration with existing MQi student LX activities achieved
  • December 2023: Measurement of Success survey rolled out to all stakeholders
  • March 2024: Published report and establishment of UIF as a key offering at MQ.

An Innovation Portfolio

As part of this project development, I aim to produce a number of documents, reports, operational guides, and activities that would be valuable for other FIFs. I would also love the opportunity to learn from other FIFs that may have more experience in building such a comprehensive student offering.