Importing successful ideas
At Nesta, we've recently been talking about why successful innovations that originate in some parts of the world often don't get exported to other places.
Case study: Hyper Island
One example of a successful idea that Nesta helped bring to the UK was Hyper Island. It's a training programme that originally developed in Sweden that offers a new way for young people to learn the skills they need to work in the digital media industry. Unlike many more academic courses offered by universities and colleges, the Hyper Island course is developed in partnership with industry, with students working on real, live project briefs. The course is also much shorter than degree courses - with our pilot cohort being enrolled for 32 weeks rather than the more usual 3 years of a degree course.
We've just published the evaluation report, which proves that the methods used by Hyper Island are highly successful, with many lessons for universities that would like to work more closely with industry to develop good courses.
The Hyper Island team that has brought their teaching method to the UK relish seeing the above barriers to adoption as challenges to overcome. Consequently, Hyper Island now has bases in Manchester, New York and its original Sweden.
So what is it that is stopping more courses like Hyper Island from launching in the UK?
In a word - Money. It is the funding regime here (which is different to that in Sweden) that makes it harder for Hyper Island to attract students.
Despite the courses proving their worth, students are put off from stumping up for their course fees up front (Hyper Island currently charges £9,000) when they can defer their fees by enrolling on a degree course - even though degree courses do not have as good a track record (in percentage terms) at converting students into being employees in their desired sector. Allowing student loans for non-degree courses might allow more students to choose alternative ways of training for industry.
Hyper Island has continued in the UK as an MA course and I suspect that it is likely to flourish. But sometimes, despite all of the other conditions being right, it is our funding systems that need to be as innovative as the new products and services they seek to foster.
Here are some of the other reasons why successful innovations might not get adopted by others:
- It can be difficult to replicate the personal drive and commitment of the originating founder or team in a new place
- A successful team might just not want to scale their idea or service
- There are local laws, conditions or other statutory obligations that prevent innovations being replicated
- Language and cultural barriers are tough to overcome
- There are incumbents with vested interests that resist new entrants and change
- A clear business case for the new replacing the old
But we'd like to hear from you on your thoughts too...