Guest Blog: Anna Schaefer – University Innovation Fellows – Innovation & Creativity on Campus

In October 2018, me and two fellow students, James and Sarah, were officially launched as University Innovation Fellows. We are now part of a passionate community of people from all over the world who want to make a change. We can proudly say that we are the first ever Fellows in the UK and we are going to work together with the Lancaster University Enterprise Team to create valuable events for students.

As part of the University Innovation Fellows programme by Stanford University´s Institute of Design (the “d.school”), we´ve been trained to become agents of change on our campus to create lasting impact on students´ lives. We want to increase engagement with innovation, design thinking and entrepreneurship because we believe that these areas are valuable for every student. To do so, we are going to create events to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge they will need in the future and even to address global challenges.

In May 2018, I applied to be part of the programme and I got accepted to be a UIF candidate. In September the 6-week online training started. We had weekly assignments to complete as a team, so it was very important to stay on top of our work. Especially when the new term started, we had to work efficiently to keep up with the workload. But we received great support by the Enterprise Team and our mentor, Jill, a Fellow from the United States who we could always ask for help.

During the training we learned about design thinking and we had to think creatively about possible ways to improve the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem on campus. We found out about opportunities and which parts of the university need improvements in these areas. To understand needs and wants and how we can help, we interviewed many students and lecturers. We brainstormed ideas, prototyped solutions, got feedback and constantly improved our prototypes. The training was challenging but extremely rewarding as we have learned so much already and the real work hasn´t even started yet.