– The great challenges of our world require global thinking and engineering across all disciplines, across organisational and cultural boundaries, says Lara Littlefield at GIX, one of the speakers at the UniverCITY Partnerships Conference in Stockholm and Uppsala.
Lara Littlefield is responsible for business development at Global Innovation Exchange, GIX, at University of Washington, which is a partnership between universities and research on the one hand and innovative companies on the other. Initially, Tsinghua University and the University of Washington are academic partners with Microsoft as the support from the industry.
– GIX develops new forms of learning by connecting students and world-leading faculties with research-driven companies and non-profit organisations with a view to jointly finding solutions to the global challenges, she says.
The idea is that GIX will be an injection in the Seattle region. In particular, the partnership offers a degree that combines design, technology development and entrepreneurship to strengthen the innovation of students in areas such as health and sustainability.
Lara Littlefield talks about creating an inclusive attitude and bringing down walls.
– Innovation works when it bridges barriers between disciplines, countries and cultures.
She raises a number of options for greater cooperation between regions, academia and industry, such as collaborative research, innovation training, incubators and investments in the new centres with private/public partnerships for societal challenges.
– Collaboration is essential in all these areas. One advantage of collaboration is that you can have a greater impact through greater opportunities to implement new innovations at various levels in both public and private activities, says Lara Littlefield.
She takes the traffic challenges in our major cities as an example.
– Sharing data is an important element in solving challenges of mobility. This data is often very disparate and available in different ways for different users. Being able to integrate data and making it accessible and user friendly not only highlights the challenges and opportunities in our urban environments, it also empowers innovators to contribute and develop new solutions with new technology.
GIX is one of the participants at the UniverCITY Partnerships Conference 12 to 14 October in Stockholm and Uppsala, and Lara Littlefield is looking forward to coming to Sweden and to meeting other regions with similar challenges.
– Innovation cannot be created in isolation, but requires that we combine ideas, people and resources, that we learn from the best practices of each other and see opportunities to influence and develop our societies.