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VIA Connect launch a new student based open innovation platform

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There have been a few attempts down the years to try and tap into the student community for insights and expertise.  For instance, last year the Growth Strategy Company wanted to offer crowd based insights to failing companies from amongst the student body.

Despite an interesting proposition however, that competition is no longer running, which suggests it wasn’t altogether successful.  Chaordix and VIA University College will be hoping for rather more success with their latest venture.

The project, called VIA Connect, aims to connect up higher education, including both students and academics, with organizations looking for ideas and innovations.

In many ways the platform is a run of the mill open innovation site, with organizations posting challenges for the community to attempt to solve.  Interestingly though, the project does allow teams to collaborate, and to assign credit to their collaborators.  It’s a nice nod to the recent paper (covered here), which highlighted the value of open collaboration ala open source software vs competition.

Whilst initially the project will mainly work with public and private organizations, the hope is that eventually the platform will attract NGOs and take on a real, societal approach to tackling the biggest issues of the day.

“Crowdsourcing is disrupting business models and entire industries,” said Chief Consultant Flemming Binderup Gammelgaard, who directs the project for VIA University College. “With VIA Connect, VIA University College will become the first institution of higher education and research to develop its own crowdsourcing solution as a long-term commitment to driving collaborative innovation together with partners from across the private and public sectors.”

Alongside the launch of the crowdsourcing platform, VIA University College are also planning to deliver educational programs to students to help them gain the kind of social and collaborative skills they believe are needed in the workplace.

That’s crucial because a recent report from the Economist Intelligence Unit highlighted just how poor these kind of skills are in many graduates today, with various other studies also highlighting the challenges many millennials have in translating their comfort with social tools for personal usage with the use of social tools professionally.

A big part of this is of course talent management.  I wrote recently about how some banks are using hackathons as a way of identifying talented people, and it seems inevitable that open innovation challenges will be used in the same way.

Whilst the VIA Challenge doesn’t have direct plans to accommodate this just yet, it’s certainly something they’re looking to build into the platform to ensure deep relationships between sponsors and participants.

“Everything about VIA Connect is forward thinking,” said Shelley Kuipers, Chaordix Founder & CEO. “This is a sustainable model that enables organizations to make targeted, time-and-cost- controlled investments as their first forays into crowdsourcing. It also directly enables community members, so they’re better prepared to drive tangible results for the partner companies, and so they’re equipped to be key players in the crowd economy taking shape all over the world.”

“We’re excited about our collaboration with Flemming, VIA and all the partners. We think VIA Connect will ultimately prove to be a major milestone in how crowdsourcing is deployed to connect academic, corporate and public stakeholders in pursuit of innovation.”

It’s certainly a nice project, on a number of levels, and will be one to keep an eye on.

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