What is an Innovation Hub?
Innovation—creating new and better solutions to meet user needs—has long been a staple of the business world. Now, the same trend is emerging in higher education. One way in which innovation is being brought into postsecondary institutions is through Innovation Hubs, positioning student affairs staff as key players who can keep universities relevant in the future through innovation.
An innovation hub creates an environment in which innovation can happen through developing infrastructure and acting as a campus-wide resource. The hub can be a physical space, a point of contact or an environment in which innovation is fostered and modelled. The goal of an innovation hub is to discover sustaining innovations, those designed to improve existing systems, and disruptive innovations, revolutionary creations that significantly alter the landscape.
Innovation Hub at the University of Toronto
Everyday, over 80,000 students engage with the spaces, communities, and systems of the University of Toronto. Today, the student demographic at UofT is vastly different from what it looked like a generation ago, and what it will look like a generation in the future. In the face of rapidly changing student demographics, questions arise around how we might design and re-design programs, services, and resources. That’s were the idea of an Innovation Hub comes in.
In May 2016, the Innovation Hub at UofT launched as a project of the Student Life Division, out of a desire to explore two questions: 1) Who are our students? and 2) How is the world changing for them? We wondered how the answers to these questions might shape the ways in which we design programs, services, and resources to support students throughout their time at UofT, from start to finish. To tackle these questions, we began by creating a diverse team that brought together over 100 students, staff, and faculty from across disciplines and departments to work in partnership with each other.