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EXPANDING OUR CONSORTIUM, EVOLVING OUR MODEL, SETTING THE STAGE FOR COLLABORATIVE TRANSFORMATION

April 11, 2016

UI LABS started with the concept of solving challenges that are too big for any one organization to address. We put U+I in our name to represent the importance of bringing universities and industry together to tackle these issues.

Over the past year, it became evident that while our original concept still holds true in many respects, our mission has expanded, and our model for delivering value has evolved.

We realized that we could easily tack on more letters beyond U+I (although we won’t!) to represent the government, civic, and startup communities that are also essential to the cross-sector collaborations we curate. It is only with all these stakeholders at the table that we can move the needle on innovation and develop solutions that transform industries.

At the same time, it became clear that our role was not only to convene these players, but also to catalyze action that wouldn’t occur without a nudge in the right direction. As a first-of-its-kind innovation accelerator, UI LABS builds projects and accelerates outcomes that wouldn’t take place organically.

The UI LABS 2015 Annual Report is a window into this journey. It showcases many of the milestones that occurred along this path over the past year: launching R&D projects, moving into our permanent home, adding to our already tremendously talented team, and welcoming our 200th member.

It also outlines the process UI LABS has developed to unlock value at every step of our projects, from defining the problem through scaling the solution – and includes examples of this model in action for our two Labs: The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) and City Digital.

One-to-one partnerships will always have a place in the portfolios of companies, universities, and government organizations. “Buy versus build” will remain in the vocabulary of corporations looking to innovate and expand into new areas. But the option that UI LABS provides – collaborative transformation – is available to our consortium for the persistent challenges that require creative partnerships and room for risk-taking that isn’t always available in traditional models.

Taking a look back at 2015, it’s clear that we’ve set the stage for even greater impact in the years to come, due in large part to the continued support of our network of partners and supporters. I’m thrilled to share this update and hope you’ll take the time to read our report, be inspired, and get involved!

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.