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Collaborative Innovation Centers (CIC)

The Collaborative Innovation Centers (CIC) is a smart service system that IBM has instituted to work with regional government, academia and business for developing in-demand skills, accelerating research innovations into markets, and driving regional economic development.

About the Program

About the Program

A common theme in all CICs is integrated learning (teaching/skills), discovery (research), and engagement (application/entrepreneurship) on real-world challenges. The focus is on real-world challenges, real-world tools, real-world data, mentors from industries, and leading-edge teaching and research faculty that expand the professional social networks of the students. While education, research and entrepreneurship are the three pillars of CICs’, the model is flexible and can be easily modified to meet the regional needs.

Expertise, Insight, Invention - Education & training, Development, Research - Skills Solutions, Innovation - CIC Cliente challenges, CIC resources Regional Economic Development: (CIC): Government, Academia, Industry

  • Education and Training

One of the most important goals of the CIC is to build competency for new technology and design a regional workforce with T-shaped professionals (depth and breadth) that keeps jobs locally. Today, most students graduated are I-shaped with depth, but lack of adaptive capacity, innovation capacity, teamwork capacity, and boundary-spanning breadth. T-shaped professionals have breadth, and a special type of empathy that motivates them to learn about the expertise areas of their teammates. T-shaped professionals are adaptive innovators, highly-socially networked, lifelong learners, and make excellent entrepreneurs.

Teaching can take the form of improving existing courses including upgrading to the latest technologies for expressing concepts in the course. This has the least invasive impact although the results are not as directly monitored. Where the innovation is the result of a significant evolution of existing technologies, a new course might be added to a degree program. Adding a new course is a much larger commitment of time and cannot happen overnight but the results are more immediate and can be verified. The partnership of private sector (providing tools and expertise) and academia (providing educational know-how and delivering the materials) is powerful. For substantial evolutions of technology, there may be opportunities to further expand to offer a minor, major, or even a specialist designation within a program. These may not take effect for a year and may not deliver graduates until three years or longer after the decision but they are substantial and graduates will be highly sought after. In some instances, this might expand to a full degree program.

Another route to take is developing graduate programs, especially professional Masters Programs that can often be developed in a year with 18 more months for intake, education and graduation. The more traditional graduate programs involve more rigorous (and time consuming) processes but may be warranted depending on circumstances. Other choices are focused on skills development and training. These could take the place of post-graduate diploma or certificate programs, certification (where an appropriate certifying body exists), and even individual continuing education courses. Where business partners are actively involved, the academic partner might offer to develop in-house training programs.

  • Research and Think Tank

Since the materials in question are state-of-the-art developments, they represent a potential for academic research, which, in turn, helps focus academic attention on the innovative technology and grant challenges that our society is facing. In particular, the Analytics environment is vastly different from the recent past with the exponentially increasing amount of data available, the exponentially increasing compute power, and the evolution of Business Analytics, Social Analytics, Content Analytics, Information Based Governance, etc. Many universities are creating centers of studies for related topics and it would be mutually beneficial to partner with industrial companies such as IBM to share resources such as skills, hardware, software, professional expertise, etc.

Research provides a unique way for the most highly qualified students to learn both practical and academic skills in the context of the new technologies. On the other hand, advanced research also helps improving the overall ranking of academic institutions. As to the government, the CIC is a think tank for policy studies and setting future directions for regional growth. Governments can use the resource for applications crucial to national security, public safety, life quality and the environment. In addition, material-flow-analysis, energy-flow-analysis, talent-flow- analysis can inform and help policy makers who advise regional economic development boards to make better decisions.

  • Entrepreneurship (start-ups and spin-offs)

The third pillar of the CIC is proactively putting knowledge to use and creating direct impact on social and economic development. By definition, the collaborative innovation is interactive rather than a linear model of innovation, which can generate higher levels of training and in sharing of knowledge. Government can act as a public entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As universities develop connections, they can combine discrete pieces of intellectual property and jointly exploit them. The academic ‘third mission’- involvement in socio-economic development, next to the traditional missions of teaching and research, is most salient in the Entrepreurial University.

A recent study has found that University spin-offs are more innovative, more successful than comparable firms because of the characteristics that are specific to spin-offs, such as high R&D intensity, high cooperation frequency, and the location of the business. The analysis also reveals that university spin-offs are more likely to hold patents, whereas the research institute spin-offs are more likely to have introduced radical product innovations. Thus, the initial endowment and knowledge transfer from the parent institution would explain the superior innovation performance of spin-offs. IBM Global Entrepreneur Initiative provides startups with access to world-class advisors and IBM support, free software and technology, and an extensive network of global experts, VCs, and investors. IBM SmartCamps are exclusive events aimed at identifying early stage entrepreneurs who are developing business ventures that align with our IBM Smarter Planet vision. SmartCamps enable startups to take advantage of mentoring opportunities, learn from thought leaders, and network with serial entrepreneurs, investment firms, academic institutions, and industry and technology experts. They also give selected startups the opportunity to connect with the venture community.

Today there are more than 13 CICs globally. For example, we have Big Data and Business Analytics CICs in Singapore, Italy, Netherland, Canada and US; a Risk Analytics Center in Shanghai; a Cyber Security Center in Israel and Accessibility Centers in China and US. The CICs have proven to be a successful model for building a healthy ecosystem of public-private partners to share resources, critical skills, and innovation.

List of CICs