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Innovation Community Lab

Would a colleague at your small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) benefit from a network for aspiring managers and ambitious new starters? If so, Innovation Community Lab (ICL) could be the key to their success and your business growth.

Innovation Community Lab is a development programme designed for early-career individuals working in an SME. ICL gets graduates proactively innovating for their employers, catalysing business growth and encouraging long-term job retention.

This programme not only addresses key skills required by the business community to prepare graduates for work, but also offers peer-to-peer learning and a regional support network of young professionals who might be the sole graduate working within their SME and feel distant from their peer group.

Through the programme, businesses and graduates can access a new community of innovators in the local area who share good practice, fostering a supportive business network across a range of sectors.

innovation students working

Programme Delivery

The thirty-hour programme, facilitated by Gradconsult, offers a regional professional network, blended learning, and develops desirable innovation techniques not typically gained at University

Throughout the programme, participants complete a business profiling toolkit, enabling discussions with their line managers and directors. This profile covers corporate strategies, culture, vision, and stakeholder engagement to improve their knowledge of the business they are working in. Their learning will directly benefit your business.

NTU has already run three successful cohorts on ICL and supported over 130 graduates enable innovation within their organisation.

The Sessions

  • 1. Introduction

    18 July 2018

    This workshop will support the participant with;

    • Introduction to the ICL programme
    • Networking principles and get to know your community
    • How to create a high performing team
    • Managing a team
    • Assess your Mindset at work
    • Peer-to-peer coaching

    Work-based task: Create a company profile including the company’s strategy, vision/mission statement, growth plans and objectives. Assess the effectiveness in your team and the mindset of the business.

  • 2. Illustrate your Idea

    22 August 2018

    This workshop will support the participant with;

    • Articulating and presenting ideas
    • Creative thinking methods
    • Idea generation methods
    • Selection and prioritisation
    • Identify the objectives and criteria
    • Strategic proposal writing
    • How to pitch your idea

    Work-based task: Pitch your ideas

  • 3. Implement the Idea

    19 September 2018

    This workshop will support the participant with;

    • Project management tools
    • Understanding the business capabilities and resources
    • Tools for problem solving
    • Negotiation, persuasion and influencing techniques
    • Learning through failure
    • Knowing your team and their strengths
    • Delegation

  • 4. Initiate Sustianability

    24 October 2018

    This workshop will support the participant with;

    • Evaluate against set objectives
    • Define the success factors and how to incorporate them into a wider context
    • Tools to measure impact
    • Ability to change
    • Continuous improvement of the idea
    • Buy-in from colleagues and stakeholders

  • 5. Invite Change

    21 November 2018

    This workshop will support the participant with;

    • Managing up
    • Driving change in the business
    • Sharing best practice with colleagues
    • Nudging skills
    • Improving risk taking in a safe environment
    • Creating a culture of innovation

  • 6. Ignite Your Innovation

    12 December 2018

    A celebration event, where the participants will have the opportunity to showcase their work and the influence they have had on their business. Managing Directors and colleagues from the business are invited to attend this event to be inspired by the innovations brought in by their graduates. The session also provides an opportunity for networking and sharing best practice, but also a chance to exchange skills and knowledge.

Benefits to SMEs

In 2017, 86% of managers saw increased participant confidence to innovate. 77% said the programme had a direct impact on their capability to innovate as a business. Furthermore, company culture is notoriously difficult to adjust and typically requires significant time to make small gains. 86% of managers saw an improvement in company culture, which demonstrates outstanding impact in just six months.

ICL has had a positive impact on the business, I have seen some interesting signs on cultural shifts within the wider team. Embracing new ways of working, and building the team attitude to innovating in everything we do. Starting to see the team drive the innovation agenda in the business, rather than management.

Simon Elliot - Diversity Creative Marketing

Supporting BYG Systems

BYG Systems on ICL

BYG Systems enrolled graduates from their organisation into ICL to explore innovation around teamwork, communication and creativity. Through the programme, the graduates were able to develop a proposal for innovative changes to be brought back to their organisation. Find out more in the video they created for their final session of the programme.

Jordan from Affari

How to enrol

To enrol your business and graduates into ICL, please contact our team

Managers will need to complete a short enrolment form on behalf of the employee attending the sessions. These will be made available before each cohort.

The programme is offered free of charge to eligible SMEs.

Support for SMEs

ICL is part of the Enabling Innovation programme. This is a programme funded by the European Regional Development Fund for SMEs in the D2N2 area. Enabling Innovation runs a wider programme of one-off events, workshops and masterclasses, as well as provides local SMEs and start-ups with access to University specialists and expert facilities free of charge.

European Regional Development Fund logo

Still need help?

Support for SMEs
+44 (0)115 848 8899