Emily Carr University’s Social + Interactive Media (SIM) Centre and Vancouver-based accelerator GrowLab announce that the BC Innovation Council (BCIC) has come on as a funding partner for a new phase of their applied research partnership, Emily@Grow. Based on the success of a pilot project undertaken last fall, the partners will test and refine a new methodology for connecting design with BC’s entrepreneurial tech ventures in order to increase product competitiveness.
Through the project, Emily Carr design research assistants engage directly with startup product innovations as they emerge within the iterative accelerated research and development process, bringing design-thinking into the mix.
Led by SIM Centre Director Kate Armstrong and Assistant Professor Haig Armen, (Faculty of Design + Dynamic Media), both of Emily Carr University, this second collaboration addresses a skills gap in the marketplace and increases the speed at which interaction designers are trained in real world settings. Additionally, the partnership builds capacity at GrowLab and establishes a solid framework for the transfer of applied design knowledge and expertise to tomorrow’s business leaders.
“Design is a valuable differentiating factor in the highly competitive startup landscape,” says one of GrowLab’s founders, Leonard Brody. “Bringing together high-quality entrepreneurs with design researchers delivers two key advantages – it allows startups to make evidence-based development decisions and it expands understanding and therefore responsiveness to a product’s end user.”
Emily Carr University is currently introducing its new group of five design researchers into four startups led by next gen innovators and influencers at GrowLab. The GrowLab Spring 2014 cohort includes BitLit, ethicalDeal, PrintToPeer and Spark CRM, who will be matched with Emily Carr University design researchers: Simonne Brown, Victoria Lee, Ben Westergreen, Jason Miller, and Jean Lin.
“What we’re doing with GrowLab demonstrates the value of art and design and the pivotal role that designers play in innovation,” says Kate Armstrong, SIM Centre Director.
“I’m very happy we’ve been able to help technology startups at GrowLab connect with the fantastic design talent at Emily Carr University,” said Greg Caws, President and CEO of BCIC. “By connecting talented people to address real challenges, we are bridging a gap in how companies engage in design and at the same time exposing students to real-world experiences and opportunities to work directly with entrepreneurs.”