Team Space Enabled awarded NSF Grant to Study Inclusion within Emerging Innovation Practices in Boston and Detroit


Todd Kent

Todd Kent 

Innovation Dynamics of Emerging Co-Creation Practices: What are the impacts on Inclusion?

The National Science Foundation has awarded Prof Danielle Wood and Dr. Katlyn Turner of the Space Enabled research group a grant of $475,000 for a three year project to study the dynamics of Innovation Practices known as "Co-Creation" and to evaluate how these practices impact the inclusion of groups that traditionally have limited access to participate in technology development. Specifically, the study will create detailed case studies of organizations in Boston and Detroit that implement Co-Creation Practices and explore how the methods contribute to the involvement of creating new technologies and business models in the energy and robotics sectors.

Project Abstract

The process for creating technology directly shapes who benefits from a technology and how it impacts societal disparities along characteristics of historic discrimination such as gender, race, class, national origin, immigration status, and sexuality. The proposed project creates new knowledge and evaluation methods to understand specific, emerging innovation trends while considering geographic effects. The work also creates methods to evaluate how these innovation trends relate to inclusiveness of who participates in and who benefits from innovation. The project describes the emerging innovation activities known as Co-Creation practices and evaluates how these practices may impact the extent to which historically marginalized groups participate in innovation and experience beneficial outcomes in the context of several urban centers: Boston and Detroit. The study team will perform interviews to learn the stories that describe how start-up incubators, technology development teams, and government agencies lead innovation processes that consider the needs of a variety of groups within society. The outcomes of this research will help local and state governments in the United States create policies that foster inclusive innovation that helps more people benefit from technology. The research design builds case studies of organizations that participate in Co-Creation Innovation Practices, focusing on the areas of robotics, autonomous vehicles, and urban energy. The organizations are "Co-Creation Facilities" that seek to incubate start-up companies while enabling close links to potential end-users or "Living Labs" that seek to design a technology in a context similar to the end-user environment. The study will consider how history, demographics, geography, culture, and other regional factors play a potential role in case study organization behavior and outcomes. The expected outcomes of the study include detailed case study narratives for several Co-Creation organizations in Boston and Detroit. For each case study organization, the research team will use the Systems Architecture Framework to map the objectives of the organization and compare these objectives with their outcomes. For example, objectives may include providing support to help start up organizations meet potential funders and outcomes may include the number of star- up companies within an Innovation Hub that receive external funding within each year. The evaluation will also consider the extent to which the innovation process expands participation and safety for groups that experience disproportionate, harmful discrimination. Finally, the research project will propose theoretical propositions for cities in the US that can be compared in the future to other cities. The project incorporates issues of equity throughout? The composition of the research team, the design of the project, and the dissemination of results all focus on broadening the impact of research. The project will incorporate undergraduate and graduate students, will disseminate research through publicly accessible lectures, and will include both industry and international partnerships.

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