The event marked World Intellectual Property Day, a yearly celebration led by the World Intellectual Property Organisation with the aim of getting people around the world to learn about the role that intellectual property (IP) plays in encouraging innovation and creativity. This year over 450 events took place in over 110 countries under the theme ‘Innovation - Improving Lives’.
Working in mixed teams consisting of architecture, engineering, construction, occupational therapy and informatics students, participants were tasked with coming up with an innovative design for a home that would meet the needs of those experiencing dementia.
An ageing population presents many challenges for the design of new buildings and a variety of professionals often need to collaborate together to innovate a unique design for a home that creates a comfortable living environment and also improves the health and well-being of the resident. The Building Ahead Challenge aimed to replicate this scenario for our mixed groups of students.
Dr Safia Barikzai, Associate Professor in the Nathu Puri Institute for Engineering and Enterprise in the School of Engineering, said: “Our aim was to bring together students from different Schools who wouldn’t ordinarily have the opportunity to collaborate with each other. We provided them with a platform to engage in solving real world problems. It was very interesting to see how their different areas of knowledge conflicted at times as team members had a lot of different ideas and it was wonderful to witness how their ideas converged and solutions were formed.”
After discussing their ideas, each team then pitched their innovations for 5 minutes to a panel of judges, including one of LSBU’s Entrepreneurs in Residence, Neil Whitehead. Teams were assessed on the originality of the idea, how it addressed the challenge of living with dementia and how feasible the idea would be technically, economically and socially.
Syeda Rahimunnessa, LSBU’s Intellectual Property Manager and co-ordinator of the event, then explained the importance of intellectual property, protecting your ideas and spotting the commercial value in opportunities.
Tom Whitemore, a first year Occupational Therapy undergraduate student in the School of Health and Social Care, said: “I came with some experience and understanding of dementia that I don’t think anyone else in the team had so I think it worked well that I could help them understand some of the problems experienced by dementia sufferers. As a team we came up with an idea to present which incorporated everyone’s different ideas.”
George Carter, a second year Electrical and Electronic undergraduate student in the School of Engineering, added:“The morning session helped us to share all our ideas, debate and get really heated as we were all coming from different places. The second half of the day helped us to refine and focus our ideas. Dividing the day into two halves really helped us to take a break, step away and evaluate what we had come up with. I’ll definitely use that thought process in my own studies and have also learnt to listen to others more as we all had valued but varied input.”