The term innovation lab can mean many things to many people. At Bayes, we are already working with collaborators on innovation projects so it’s important to note what makes an innovation lab different. In short they are a model for a consortia, who are substantially committed to working together on a major challenge, to leverage an iterative method for experimentation to deliver significant real world impact.
Our labs enable collaborators from multiple organisations and sectors to come together as a team, emulating the practices and environment of a start up, to develop radical ideas and exploit advances in research and technology for truly innovative products and services that will benefit people. Typically a lab will exist for more than 6 months, and may even run to a few years. During this time the team may change, their experiments most certainly will - as the core team and associates with domain expertise test and develop a pipeline of innovative ideas – the result is a portfolio of game changing solutions which deliver positive outcomes and disrupt existing markets.
Bayes Innovation Labs always start with a common vision for target outcomes. This ensures that all collaborators have a shared purpose, and are clear on thematic focus for the lab. We have developed a highly effective approach for engagement and for the accelerated development of ideas across the lab lifecycle. Our Innovation Lab framework ensures that collaborators are mission focused, and establishes the critical success criteria and stage gates for all parties early on to ensure everyone pulls in the same direction whilst providing space to explore and get creative around what exact form the solutions and experiments themselves might take.
EPCC is a key collaborator within the Bayes ecosystem and offers a range of services that can potentially be leveraged by an Innovation Lab including data assets covering domains such as financial services, healthcare and space and satellite as well as many others. The University is in a unique position to act as a data broker for dealing with sensitive data where organisations want to collaborate but cannot for regulatory or practical reasons share data. E.g. we have a large and growing dataset on banking within the Global Open Finance Centre for Excellence (GOFCoE) which takes data via open banking APIs to enable models to be developed at pace on large datasets reflecting consumer transactions across multiple Financial Services organisations which might lend itself to an Innovation Lab focused on developing solutions for financial crime or financial inclusion.
We expect all collaborators to leverage background experience and IP (albeit rights may be retained) to bring to bear their best offering from an intellectual perspective, and to agree up front upon the rights of foreground IP which is developed as a result of our collaboration. Our Innovation Team can provide more advice on the various options and mechanisms available.
It is critical that a core team is established with meaningful contributions from all collaborators. It will be necessary to bring additional people in depending upon the nature of each experiment and solution but continuity of a cross collaborator team will ensure the smooth running of the lab through a shared understanding of the purpose, methods and approach to be used as well as providing an element of quality control in terms of the potential for a particular solution to deliver against target outcomes. It also ensures there is clear accountability for the lab’s success. It is also critical that senior buy in and support (both financial and in kind) is anticipated/ secured at key stages of the lab agreement and mobilisation. This ensures there’s ‘skin in the game’ and a shared appreciated of the balance of risk and reward. Bayes Innovation Teamand Edinburgh Innovation’s Major Projects Unit can support relationship management and engagement at senior levels to ensure that adequate governance, support for relationship management and commitment is in place from a University perspective and that the right protocols and terms of reference are in place for the wider consortia.
By making a strategic commitment to collaboration on a major challenge (e.g. financial inclusion, climate change) there is effectively a runway for deepening the relationship between industry and academic experts, which helps each of us to secure the best expertise over a sustained period. The expectations are that Innovation Labs will focus on solving for a complex, challenging problem which necessitates multi-partner engagement to develop meaningful solutions that cannot be delivered by one partner alone and which will offer transformational levels of impact for industry partners which the potential to disrupt existing markets, and offer exciting learning opportunities for all participants including academic experts.
Finance & Funding
Innovation Labs are expected to deliver significant benefits for industry, SME, public sector and for academic collaborators and therefore it is expected that there will be contributions from all parties to ensure they are adequately equipped to seize the opportunity for radical innovation through the research and adoption of data technologies and methods. However, there are multiple options for funding which are available, e.g. Strength in Places, Prosperity Partnerships, ISCF funding, which can be leveraged to increase and accelerate the return on investment for collaborators. It is recommended that an initial meeting is held with Bayes Innovation Team who can provide more details and support to compete for the most suitable funding options based upon the needs of a particular Innovation Lab and the composition of the potential consortia of collaborators. The University also has an internal IAA fund which may be leveraged during 2021 to support the mobilisation of Innovation Labs as part of deepening relationships with collaborators, depending upon the themes involved in a given Innovation Lab.
Options for Delivery
There are some options which can be considered in set up of the lab. For example, our collaborators may be able to conduct many research and development activities remotely, and in COVID times and to reduce our environmental footprint this may be desirable on a day to day basis. However we recognises the value of colocation at critical points in projects and can provide options for fixed, temporary and flexible space to collaborate within the Bayes Centre itself. The University more broadly also has a number of physical assets such as 3D and nano-printing facilities, and robotics labs which may be made available. Additionally it is possible to spin in academics and other collaborators to operate as part of an internal innovation lab inside a company or organisation should this be desirable from a data handling or other perspective.
For more information, please reach out to Bayes Innovation Team