Chapter 6: Bridging the academia-industry gap through design thinking: research innovation sprints
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The infamous gap existing between academia and industry has its root causes in the different approaches, methods, goals, and funding modes that these two worlds follow. Researchers are striving to increase the impact of their work in the ‘real-world’, while industry partners are looking to leverage the solidity and rigour of scholarly investigations. As an answer to multiplying calls for academic research to increase its impact on society, in this chapter, we present a selection of 30 design-led, problem-focused innovation projects called Research Innovation Sprints (RIS). Conducted by the QUT Centre for the Digital Economy, these engagement and research formats are enrooted in Design Thinking and mainly adopt design-led methods to allow rapid exploration of innovative opportunities and co-create viable solutions to solve client organisations’ problems. We share our learnings from running RIS to propose them as an innovative approach to conducting quality research whilst delivering real-world impact.

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