New enterprise converts student design ideas into commercial reality

A lecturer at the University of Huddersfield has launched a new enterprise to bring student’s innovative ideas to the production line.

Design tutor, Joanne Harris, is a senior lecturer in surface design and has launched the enterprise, Ideashaus, to act as a conduit between students and industry.

For several years, design students whose work is a direct result of industry collaboration have been selected to exhibit at the highly prestigious International Surface Design Show, held annually in London. Their design ideas have created exceptional interest and links with industry were being formed, but the ideas were not directly converting into revenue so Harris saw an opportunity to take things further.

“Every year we have an exciting stand on display, as the only university exhibitor at the Surface Design Show, though I realised many companies don’t have the time to explore ideas and concepts even though they were very interested, so the real business opportunities generated through the exhibition are not being converted effectively into commercial enterprise opportunities.

“So, Ideashaus is a commercial enterprise working with current students and alumni to convert designs for the surface industry that companies can buy or commission.” 

The name of the new enterprise is a reference to the influential German art and design movement, Bauhaus, as Harris was inspired by its fundamental belief in taking ideas from art and design practice through to industry.

Harris masterminded the initiative as part of the research for a Doctor of Enterprise (EntD) degree, now being offered by the University as part of its mission to boost entrepreneurialism. The degree requires candidates to establish an enterprise and use it as the basis for research and a thesis. Harris will use real case studies to show the journey of ideas from curation to industry.

She explained: “As Ideashaus takes shape, the enterprise could have a number of roles, such as acting as an agency for design students as they formed links with industry. It could also help design students boost their employability skills and play a part in developing Knowledge Transfer Partnerships that are formed between universities and industry and receive government-backed funding.”