Experiencing the Business Innovation Lab

By Shal Segar

The Business Innovation Lab provides students with the opportunity to apply theories learned in class to real-life business problems using Design Thinking principles and methodology.

The Faculty of Business and Economics’ Business Innovation Lab has been an ambitious project to support experiential learning at scale. Now in its fourth year of delivery, the Lab has doubled its intake, enabling hundreds of students to undertake an intensive work-based learning project.

Running up to four times per year, the program guides students to solve problems for a range of industry partners using design thinking. The Business Innovation Lab encourages all students to get involved, no matter their level of experience. Blended teams across university faculties including Arts, Science, Engineering and IT also promote diversity of thought and ideas.

Leon participated in the Lab and returned to become a facilitator

Leon Lai - a Bachelor of Commerce student majoring in Finance and Economics - participated in the Business Innovation Lab in 2021. The skills he gained as a participant encouraged him to further upskill and return to the program as a facilitator.

Participating in the Business Innovation Lab was a one-of-a-kind experience which took me beyond my textbooks and lecture slides, to put theory into practice.

Leon was assigned to the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) as an industry partner. Along with his team members, he was tasked with designing and building a solution aimed at increasing diversity in both gender and culture in the entrepreneurial space.

“The challenge allowed me to improve my professional skillset, whilst providing opportunities for interpersonal growth. We built on each other's insights and assisted each other in comprehending the complexities. Working with my peers to solve real-world business problems gave us a first-hand idea of strategic planning and execution.”

The popular program typically sees around 300 students apply for 100 spots per intake, with a further 10 students taking on facilitator leadership roles. The Lab has also partnered with 46 unique industry partners from a range of sectors, that have included the Australian Red Cross, VicHealth, Sustainability Victoria, Wise Employment and many more.

July 2021: Eric and Gloria, along with Dr Sandro Demaio (CEO of VicHealth) and Maya Rivis (Acting Executive Manager, Programs Group)

Industry clients participating in the Business Innovation Lab get to engage with the next generation of business leaders at both the undergraduate and graduate level, while meeting their industry counterparts who may experience similar social challenges. Wise Employment’s Chardee McEwan noted: “There was such a wealth of engagement and originality delivered from the students that I just know all the businesses involved were running back to their CEO and board with these incredible solutions.”

For some teams, the Business Innovation Lab extends beyond the three-day program, with students being invited to present their solutions in person.

Following Leon’s participation in the Business Innovation Lab, he applied to become a facilitator as he was eager to support and aid others to build their design thinking process. In this leadership role, Leon acted as a guide for students and a touchpoint for their allocated industry representative between an industry partner and the student team. “It aided in the development of my professionalism and confidence in dealing with industry partners.” Looking forward, Leon plans to work in either consulting or investment management. He credits the communication and teamwork skills gained from his experience in the Business Innovation Lab in helping him to identify and pursue these goals.

Are you a business interested in having a student team consult on a project for you? Please contact us to discuss how we can work together.

Are you a BCom or MBS student, interested in taking part in the Business Innovation Lab as a participant or facilitator? Find more information here.