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Innovation capacity expanded in the Waikato

Wednesday, 25 July 2018 – For immediate publication

Innovation capacity expanded in the Waikato

Last week saw the first cohort of business leaders complete the inaugural Executive Innovation Bootcamp programme. Launched by the University of Waikato in May this year, it’s the first innovation programme of its kind in the Waikato region, and is the result of a strategic partnership between Waikato Innovation Park and Waikato Management School.

Academic director for Waikato Management School Executive Education Dr Heather Connolly says it’s been a unique programme about kick-starting innovation, both for individuals and their organisations.

“Delivering the programme over a three-month period allowed our participants to go back into their businesses and apply their learnings from each sessions,” she says. “This cohort has taken their learnings and successful innovation case studies from our industry experts back to their teams, executive boards and stakeholders.”

The bootcamp is a distinctive executive programme taking inspiration from intensive training workshops, that aims to help leaders and managers in existing organisations re-inject innovation into their current business model and offerings.

Waikato alumna and CEO of Te Awhi Whanau Charitable Trust, a kaupapa Māori mental health and addictions service provider in Hamilton, Laurie Hakiwai came to the bootcamp “seeking some disruptive thinking”.

“Working in the health sector is challenging and there's pressure to do things differently, so I came on the programme to think differently about my organisation and look at how we can innovate for the future,” she says.

The Waikato Management School has leveraged its academic expertise in management and innovation, and translated this into an impactful and practical programme for the local business community.

Dean of Waikato Management School Professor Tim Coltman says this course has allowed the University to contribute to the regional innovation ecosystem through connecting academic expertise and industry insights, with the local business community.

“After the success of the inaugural programme, we know it’s a vital tool for the business community and contributes to Waikato’s innovation ecosystem,” he says.

“We also acknowledge our role in developing New Zealand’s innovation capacity, and partnered with Callaghan Innovation, our government innovation agency, to help develop and deliver the programme.”

Industry experts from the Waikato and Bay of Plenty have joined the programme to balance the research-led academic content delivered by Waikato Management School staff. Regional leaders, CEOs and innovators have supported and complemented the delivery of the programme to share their industry experiences and organisations innovation case studies.

The cohort have been put through their paces, and in return have seen tangible results from short but regular sessions. Managing director of DiveCo and Waikato alumnus Kirk Hannaford says he’s really taken on board the concept of ‘innovation ecosystem’ after learning about this in an early bootcamp session. “We’ve taken action to formalise partnerships as part of our innovation pathway,” he says.

Sharing the research-led learnings and practical innovation examples with colleagues, stakeholders and executive leadership has meant the programme’s impact goes beyond the cohort and extends to their organisations. Laurie Hakiwai says the programme has made the board that she reports to embrace the business processes she has been privy to in the sessions. “It’s helped us consider a planned approach to how we will incorporate innovation in the future,” she says.

The 2018 programme is just the start of a sustained focus on leading innovation for the Waikato Management School.

Register your interest for future intakes in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato to get the practical skills that will help create positive value for your organisation.

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