Innovation Hub Insights & Ideas

Headshot of smiling woman with short red hair in dark grey topBy Julia Smeed, Innovation Hub Project Lead

The Innovation Hub has engaged in over one hundred honest conversations with U of T students. From these conversations we have gained a number of insights that can help us to design innovative programs, services and resources to better support students.  Twenty five ideas were also imagined by the students and staff in the Innovation Hub.  We have prepared a comprehensive report of our findings which can be obtained by contacting us.

Ideas from the Innovation Hub: Feedback Needed!

Headshot of smiling woman with red hair in dark grey top

By Julia Smeed, Innovation Hub Project Lead

The Innovation Hub teams have developed 25 ideas to improve the student experience at the University of Toronto and we need your feedback! More than 100 in-depth interviews were conducted with students during the Innovation Hub’s insight-gathering process. After identifying key insights that emerged from needs expressed by students, the domain teams worked to develop ideas to improve the U of T student experience. These are the final 25 ideas, organized by domain team.  These ideas are in prototype format and they are waiting for your feedback and input so that we can iterate them! After reading through the ideas, please follow the link to leave us feedback on the ideas!

Recap of the Innovation Hub Presentation of Insights & Ideas

Headshot of bearded man with red hair and glasses in green checkered shirtBy Josh Hass, Communications/IT Team Member

The Innovation Hub Presentation of Insights & Ideas took place on Friday, January 27 in Desautels Hall at the Rotman School of Management. The event celebrated the unveiling of the opportunity canvases that the five domain teams had developed during the ideation phase, in consultation with the U of T community.

From Research to Design: Six Key Insights from the Operations and Design Team

By AlexHeadshot of smiling woman with curly blonde hair in blue dressandra Rodney, Student Innovation Leader, Operations Team

At the Innovation Hub, the Operations and Design team is providing support to the five domain teams. Over the course of this project our team has switched gears from a focus on “research” to a focus on “design”. Why the shift? We purposely wanted to move the conversation to a focus on design-thinking in order to help team members break free from other research methodologies and approaches to problem solving. In this way we can encourage creativity by breaking free from our habitual practices and developing new ways of thinking. By encouraging a focus on design, we are contributing to helping the hub teams “undo” our learned problem-solving patterns and making way for innovation in both process and result.

As simple as a sticker or a longer walk


Headshot of smiling women with wavy blonde hair standing outside in front of a tree in a white shirt by Cristina Peter, Whole Student Development co-lead

Two of my favourite innovation stories come from industries that seem very different to our educational context, but can inspire some creative thinking on some of those shared values that we strive for: it’s all about good service and a great experience.

What is Access?


By Emma Beaulieu, Domain Team Member, Access for Every Student Domain

It’s a more complicated question than it sounds. I’m an occupational therapy student, and accessibility is a big part of my chosen profession. Occupational therapy is all about helping people do the things they need to do, want to do, or are expected to do, and for that you need access to resources. In the most basic sense, that can mean putting ramps outside buildings so people using wheelchairs can get inside, or making “handicapped” spaces in parking lots. But that’s far from enough. Being a student involves a lot more than physically getting to school.

Fostering Connectedness

Headshot of smiling middle-aged woman with brown hair and brown top By Erin Clifford, Fostering Connectedness Staff Co-Leader

The Fostering Connectedness domain team has been talking with students about their sense of connection with U of T. An interesting insight we have discovered is that connectedness means different things to different people.

For some, it means knowing what is going on and not feeling like they are missing out on experiences just because they didn’t know how to find out what is available. Other students have said that a friendly environment where strangers smile at each other or making a friend in a class is what connects them to U of T.

Ecosystem Mapping: October Innovation Hours Recap

Headshot of smiling woman with curly blonde hair in blue dressBy Alexandra Rodney, Student Innovation Leader, Operations Team

During the October Innovation Hours we asked students, staff and faculty to help us create a map of the University of Toronto ecosystem as it relates to our five domains of innovation.

Ecosystem mapping is an exercise designed to discover all of the resources an organization has at their disposal including people, programs, services, members and their relation to each other in both digital and physical realms. An ecosystems framework is borrowed from biologists who study the relationships between organizations and their environment, especially the impact that they have on each other.

Student Success: One Student at a Time

Headshot of smiling woman with brown hair in pink topBy Jacqueline Beaulieu, Student Co-Leader, Integrated Learning Experience Domain

On October 5th, members of the Innovation Hub’s Domain and Operations Teams attended a training day where we learned about design thinking for innovation from Nogah Kornberg of the I-Think Initiative at the Rotman School of Management.

You might be wondering: what is design thinking exactly? It is all about developing innovations that respond to real people’s needs. As the Innovation Hub seeks to understand and respond to the unique needs of UofT’s students, design thinking is a method we are utilizing to learn more about students and develop innovations that provide further support.

Meet the Innovation Hub Team!

Headshot of smiling woman with red hair in grey topBy Julia Smeed, Innovation Hub Project Lead

A year ago I would have never imagined that I’d be taking on the Innovation Hub project.  I feel that leading the Innovation Hub is the best job at U of T!  I love to see how people from diverse backgrounds and with a wide range of life experiences can come together to create change.  To me, the spirit of innovation is really in the collaboration and creativity of talented people coming together and each contributing in a unique way.  We are living in an age where technology and ideas are moving faster than we can and it is so hard to keep up with the innovation and disruption that exists all around us.  Yet one thing that technology can never replace is that creative spark that happens when like minded people come together with a common purpose.