Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The STEAM+D approach to innovation

Last Friday I had the opportunity to visit Brooklyn's New Lab, "an interdisciplinary space designed to support entrepreneurs working in emerging technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and connected devices." The New Lab is an incubator focusing on growth stage companies, offering prototyping and fabrication facilities along with venture and entrepreneurial support support. There are 29 companies located there spanning the range of fields outlined above. Located in a repurposed industrial space - the Navy Yard - New Lab offers companies a community commons approach to incubation and acceleration. According to New Lab, no other place in the US has prototyping supports, business support, VC funding, and shared work space under one roof that are not part of an educational institution or corporation. It is funded by the civic government, and is a pathfinder for the reshoring of manufacturing and industry 4.0.

One of the member organizations of New Lab is Terreform ONE (Open Networked Ecology), "a non-profit architecture group that promotes smart design in cities." Check out their projects - this is a bold and creative group that shows the value of the STEAM+D approach to innovation: integrating science, technology, engineering, arts, math and design. Students from undergraduate to graduate come to Terreform to engage in a sort of “career discovery” process – a developmental process whereby they discover what they want to do, often building on their thesis projects. Fail and learn is a significant component of the latent pedagogy of the place.

When arts and culture mixes with engineering and technology and design there is a multiplier effect on the innovation. This mix underscores the importance of facilitating interaction among disparate disciplines – this is where innovation takes root.

It is this “amniotic/primordial” zone that encourages experimentation and idea generation. This ideation is a necessary precondition to the design of products and services and their execution through entrepreneurial ventures.

Inside of New Lab: Looking out at the building sign

Inside of New Lab: Shared space with colourful chairs

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