A COLLEGE has launched a pioneering innovation module as a direct response to employers’ needs in the North East.

New College Durham has created the innovation management module following an idea from Business Durham, the economic development company for County Durham.

Business Durham, which works on behalf of Durham County Council, engages with thousands of companies and it was convinced that innovation management was a skill that needed to be taught in addition to entrepreneurship and enterprise, which are already part of the curriculum.

Catherine Johns, innovation and business growth director for Business Durham, said: “The skill of actually launching a product or service into the market and doing it successfully is a core life skill, one that helps all of us, no matter if we are working for someone else or setting up in business for ourselves. And it can be learned, so we asked New College Durham if they would be willing to at least try it.”

The college worked alongside Business Durham to develop the exciting innovation module, which will be integrated into all of the college’s higher education programmes, including foundation degrees and degrees.

Mo Dixon, Vice Principal at New College Durham, said: “We have carried out extensive research and have designed a specialist module to ensure our students are equipped with the skills and knowledge to become creative problem-solvers, innovators, idea generators and entrepreneurs, to meet employer needs and underpin innovative business growth in County Durham.”

The college has already appointed four Innovation Champions to drive forward the pioneering project and inspire and influence innovation within the college.

IT students from New College Durham, who have studied the innovation module since September as part of their foundation degree, applied what they have learnt so far when they visited NETPark, in Sedgefield, for an innovation challenge.

Rhiannon Hardy, 19, from Crook, who is studying the Foundation Degree in Computing with Networking at New College Durham, said: “The innovation module has made me think in a different way about solving problems and I feel like it is an integral part of my learning and experience. The trip to NETPark was an inspiration for my future projects and business ideas because of the way it expanded and nurtured my ability to think differently and creatively.”

Sean King, one of the Innovation Champions and Lecturer for Foundation Degree in Computing with Networking at New College Durham, said: “The foundation degree students are really enjoying their studies of innovation this academic year, gathering the skills and knowledge to develop them to be innovative thinkers and practitioners. The support from Business Durham for the delivery of the learning has been fantastic, and has enabled students to see innovation in action at NETPark. It has also opened up the opportunity to work on projects with global innovators across the county.”