By @SimonCocking we spoke with Barbara Diehl, Executive Director of the Innovation Academy at UCD, to get her insights into what makes for good innovation, and how to encourage and inspire it. Barbara will be moderating our Innovation panel at our #Fintech20 event on October 26th. Get tickets here.

Can you explain how the Innovation Academy looks to encourage innovation?

We see ourselves here in the Academy very firmly anchored in the ‘entrepreneurial mindset’ and ‘growth mindset’ teaching and training space. Incidentally, today came the announcement of the two inaugural laureates of the Yidan Prize, a new prize in Education Practice and Research, endowed by the Yidan Foundation based in Shanghai (which in turn has been set up by one of the billionaire founders of Tencent.)

Both laureates are firmly in the ‘growth mindset’ and the ‘experiential’ teaching space which is great validation for what we are trying to achieve with the Academy’s programmes and modules. We try to get the message about ‘action based’ learning through to the movers & shakers in the education establishment and within our own institution, a process that sometimes moves slower than one would wish.

What are the key skills for an aspiring entrepreneur?

We see an ‘entrepreneurial mind and skillset’ as the foundation for any entrepreneurial activity, be it for profit, not for profit, community based or even within a large organisation (e.g. companies or public sector organisations). (The latter is commonly referred to as ‘intrapreneurship’.) Very often support mechanisms around entrepreneurship focus either on providing infrastructure (e.g. incubators, accelerators, science parks, etc.) or financial incentive schemes (i.e. prizes or cheques). However, without the right mindset and skills, such as team working, collaboration, problem solving, persistence, adaptability, experimental prototyping and testing, many of these initiatives come to nil. Also, many initiatives seem to be clustered in the start-up space, but not in the growth support for companies who are transitioning from the start-up to the growth phase.

Why will you be speaking at this event?

Events like this conference are always exciting and very high-energy. The area of fintech is, of course, one of the currently most talked about. Fuelled by the past financial crisis entrepreneurs are calling many of the established business models and services into question. This in combination with technological developments, such as blockchain or crowdfunding as an alternative to traditional investment raising mechanisms, make this a very interesting, ‘fermenting’ space. (One of the alumni in my past work set up Seedrs in the UK.)

Where do you get your inspiration from?

In terms of influencers I follow the ‘usual suspects’ (FastCompany, Wired, Inc magazines & blogs, and Irish Tech News of course!) We recently completed a training programme for the Irish Stock Exchange and, low and behold, the day after the final presentations, I came across this article which I found very interesting. Some of them might be attending the conference. Also, I liked this company which is experimenting with a new approach to insurance brokerage:

You can see more about Barbara and her work with the Innovation Academy here:
E: [email protected]
T: @UCD_Innovators
W: www.innovators.ie

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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