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Delivering accelerated innovation with Centrica

8 April 2022

Students at a workshop in Cardiff Business School

Cardiff Business School has completed a three-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Centrica plc to deliver an accelerated innovation process.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between the Business school and Centrica, a global energy and services company, was led by Dr Luigi M. De Luca, Professor of Marketing and Innovation and Pro-Dean for Doctoral Studies at Cardiff Business School.

The KTP brought together project management, technology marketing, new product development design, and redesign of team processes and organisational systems. The 3-year project ended successfully in October 2021, after navigating two tumultuous years characterised by the pandemic and other shocks to the energy industry.

The KTP delivered its key benefits through Centrica’s Accelerator Hub, a new innovation team tasked to develop and support innovation within Centrica. The core activities of the Accelerator Hub are collaboration, consulting and coaching.

With support from the KTP, the Accelerator Hub developed a repository of innovation and product development tools and techniques, which have been shared with hundreds of Centrica employees over the last two years – across the whole organisation – via their internal innovation academy, Feel, Empathise, Learn, Identify, Test, Evangelise (FLITE School).

The collaboration between the Business school and Centrica has attracted interest internationally and the case study will be featured in the forthcoming Handbook of New Product Development by the Product Development Management Association (PDMA).

Working with MBA students

The Accelerator Hub team recently returned to the Business school to deliver a guest lecture for the Creativity, Innovation and Enterprise module ran by Professor Jon Gosling on our full-time MBA programme.

During a four-hour session, titled “Design Thinking: The What, The How, and The Why”, MBA students explored the concept of Design Thinking, its application in corporate settings, and ran their own Design Thinking workshop.

The session was facilitated by the Head of the Accelerator Hub, Zahir Sumar and Accelerator Hub’s Innovation Developer Andrea Rossi (former Cardiff University’s KTP Associate), who led our MBA students through the same journey shared by innovation teams at Centrica.

“Both the delegates from Centrica were very friendly and taught us the concept very clearly: I particularly liked the use of interactive elements such as the Lightning Decision Jam workshop,” commented one of the MBA students.

“The Centrica team provided a very collaborative and enjoyable session for our MBA students, expertly guiding them through the theory and practice of Design Thinking. In addition, they provided very valuable hints and tips for making the approach work well in a large organisational setting, which is hard to absorb from reading textbooks,” commented Professor Jon Gosling.

The partnership between Cardiff Business School and Centrica will continue in the future with new objectives, including more collaborative research, a two-way exchange between Centrica and Cardiff’s MBA and Executive Education programmes, student placements and doctoral projects.

“We are excited by this ongoing collaboration: we strongly believe that the integration of research-led expertise and on-field experience can provide both parties with great advantages when it comes to transferring and integrating knowledge around innovation and new product/service development. We are looking forward to nurture this collaboration with Cardiff University further” said Zahir Sumar, Head of Centrica’s Accelerator Hub.

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