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The role of creativity in technological innovation

Technological creativity and innovation are key to competing in a global economy. An EU initiative is establishing an interdisciplinary research network to examine creative design in various applied fields.
The role of creativity in technological innovation
The importance of creativity and design in innovation is well acknowledged. However, they need to be considered within a broader conceptual framework to gain deeper insight into design practices that result in technological innovation.

With this in mind, the EU-funded DESIRE (Creative design for innovation in science and technology) network has set up an interdisciplinary team of researchers to better understand creative design methods used in scientific and technological problem solving, with the aim of modelling creative processes, and developing better support tools for creative design and creativity training.

This 4-year project has trained 13 researchers with expertise in human-computer interaction, psychology, arts and design. Some fellows have explored creative processes at individual level, including poetry composition, modelling insight in industrial design, or developing a design pattern language for software design. Other projects have focused on group creativity, for example by developing a meta-design model for multidisciplinary design teams, or new paradigms for understanding macro-scale creativity.

Furthermore, other fellows have developed design methods and tools to support creative design processes, such as wearable prototypes for supporting embodied design, portfolio of still and animated visual analogies for supporting insight problems solving.

Other examples involve novel design methods based on improvisation- and body-based design, end-user development platform for in situ data collection, and proof-of-concept multi-modal tool incorporating dramaturgical techniques from film and sequential art. These all provide design teams with an experiential approach towards designing interactive products.

DESIRE outcomes received two best paper awards (IADIS 2010, DESIRE 2011), one best paper nomination (DESIRE 2011), one design award (Norwegian Award for Design Excellence), and the 2009 Design Studies Award made annually, jointly by the Design Research Society and Elsevier Science. The network has generated over 100 research outcomes including over 20 journal papers and over 50 conference papers.

These outstanding outcomes have been enabled by an internationally recognised research programme consisting of 5 network-wide events, i.e. two summer schools in Italy and Portugal, two conferences, in Denmark 2010 and The Netherlands 2011, and an outreach event in the UK.

For maximum impact, the proceedings of the two DESIRE conferences had been archived within the ACM DL. Dissemination activities include a website, a targeted mailing list, a dedicated page on a popular social networking service and a wiki for the research network.

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Creativity, technological innovation, technological creativity, creative design, science and technology
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