Experience Innovation at UCD


Unlocking Creativity Across the Public Sector


Public Sector Innovation

Unlocking Creativity Across the Public Sector.


UCD Innovation Academy

We have ten years’ experience developing world-class immersive workshops and courses in innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial thinking for over 7,000 people including public sector employees.

UCD Innovation Academy offers a range of talks, workshops, hackathons and programmes for Public Sector Organisations. We enable organisations across the sector to build powerful innovation strategies, discover unmet customer needs, imagine and prototype effective solutions. Our solutions build the capabilities of staff at all levels to champion innovation practices in their organisations. 

Each solution takes an experiential approach. Participants at the Innovation Academy learn by doing from seasoned practitioners who have walked the talk and understand the nuances of innovation. There is a strong focus on equipping participants with the mindset, skill set and actionable toolkit to make an immediate impact in their organisation.

See below for descriptions of some of the solutions we offer:

Our Experience Supporting Public Sector Innovation

In the past year the Innovation Academy has contributed to public sector innovation initiatives in the following ways:

  • 64 staff from 37 public sector organisations have developed their abilities to innovate with the UCD Professional Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Leadership
  • ‘Secretary General’s Challenge’ Hackathon + Ideation Workshops for the Department of Education and Skills
  • Mixing and Matching Ideas Talk at Innovation Week at the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation
  • Prof. Suzi Jarvis, Founding Director at UCD Innovation Academy was invited to sit on the Action Team focused on Promoting a Culture of Innovation in the Public Service.
Public Sector Innovation Week
Contact us at david.nevin@ucd.ie or mary.saunders@ucd.ie for support planning and delivering events and activities for your Public Sector Innovation Week

Workshops and Events

The following offers a few examples of ways in which UCD Innovation Academy can support individuals and organisations in the public sector. If you would like us to develop a specific workshop, event or activity for your organisation that is not listed here, please don’t hesitate to contact david.nevin@ucd.ie.

Click below for descriptions:

A Hackathon is where teams of employees of all levels and from across divisions come together to work intensively in a collaborative, high-energy environment to develop and share solutions to particular problems facing their organisation. They are fast-paced and fun events that generate innovative solutions quickly.

Following a creativity  warm up, teams are presented with a broad challenge domain. We immerse the teams in searching for the real problem(s) to be solved within this domain by building empathy (i.e. walking in the shoes of) with the stakeholders impacted by the problem and gaining insights through a combination of interviews, observation, body-storming and research. From the insights garnered, each team defines a specific problem to be solved and develops ideas to address that problem before presenting them at the end of the event.

UCD Innovation Academy has designed and delivered multiple hackathons in collaboration with organisations including The Department of Education and Skills, Irish Stock Exchange, PwC, Deloitte and Arnotts|Brown Thomas.

Often the challenge that faces organisations in developing a culture of innovation is that they are perennially busy and heavily focused on delivering on the day-to-day. The desire to innovate may exist at senior management levels but middle managers are often under pressure to deliver on their annual targets and respond to crisis and opportunity. Innovation becomes an additional task and is de-prioritised.

This interactive workshop facilitates managers to step back from the day-to-day, recognise and internalise the importance of innovation and identify barriers and enablers that can prevent and support them to begin to create a workplace that fosters a greater level of innovation across the organisation. 

Design Thinking is a proven, user-centred, creative problem solving process increasingly employed by organisations of all sizes across sectors and industries to develop new products, services and processes. It focuses on understanding the unmet needs of users, what the real problems to be solved are and takes an iterative approach, testing prototypes and adapting in a way that de-risks innovation.

These workshops will immerse participants in the Design Thinking process. Participants will work in teams applying the process to design a product or service and present a prototype at the end of the workshop. In taking this approach, participants will experience every part of the process and reflect on how to apply Design Thinking in their own professional context.

Innovation does not happen in isolation. Collaboration is key to building a culture of innovation in any organistion. At the Innovation Academy we focus on team dynamics as a key enabler of innovation. This highly immersive workshop offers participants an opportunity to reflect on their approach to teamwork and collaboration and their natural role in a team. Participants will be equipped with a suite of innovation tools and techniques and a framework to apply these quickly. During the workshop, your team will work together on a live challenge relevant to the organisation.

Developing great ideas is a collaborative process. During this highly experiential workshop, participants will gain an introduction to Design Thinking and the role of ideation within the context of this proven process for new product and service development. Participants will explore and practice a series of ideation processes including brain writing, brainstorming and brain swarming to develop a large volume of both blue sky and grounded ideas to solve a real problem. Idea selection techniques will assist participants to focus and prioritise the ideas that have most potential.  

UCD Innovation Academy offers an international team of highly experienced innovation practitioners across disciplines and sectors including Education, Science, Agriculture, Finance, Communications, Business, Social Entrepreneurship and The Arts.

Our Entrepreneurial Specialists are regular speakers at events and conferences in Ireland and Internationally. With each of our talks, we take a highly immersive and interactive approach. Rather than the ‘sage on the stage’, consider us your ‘guide on the side.’

“My experience with UCD was a very positive, engaging and energising one and I learned practical skills that I will use throughout my career as well as a creative shift in mind-set.”Rachel Caprani, Garda, Prison Investigation Unit
My experience with UCD was a very positive, engaging and energising one and I learned practical skills that I will use throughout my career as well as a creative shift in mind-set.Rachel Caprani, Garda, Prison Investigation Unit
David NevinPublic Sector Innovation