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University of Galway IdeasLab Stanford University Innovation Fellowship

December 4, 2023

University of Galway IdeasLab students have joined with students from across 67 educational institutes in 15 countries to become University Innovation Fellows. The University Innovation Fellows (UIF) program empowers students to become agents of change at their universities. 

Fellows work to ensure that all students gain the attitudes, skills and knowledge required to navigate a complex world and build the future.   These student leaders from schools around the globe create opportunities to help their peers build the creative confidence, agency, and entrepreneurial mindset needed to address global challenges. Fellows create student innovation spaces, start entrepreneurship organizations, facilitate experiential workshops, work with the university community to develop new courses, and much more.

– Mia Shanley-Brookes, BSc Medicinal Chemistry, 2024
– Sophie Spellissy, Computer Science and Information Technology, 2025
– Ciaran Cox, Biomedical Engineering, 2028

The inaugural fellows in University of Galway are Mia Shanley Brookes (Medicinal Chemistry, 2024), Sophie Spellissy (Computer Science and Information Technology, 2025) and Ciaran Cox (Biomedical Engineering, 2028).  Mia, Sophie and Ciaran are working as advocates for lasting institutional change with university leaders, lending the much-needed student voice to the conversations about the future of higher education and entrepreneurship. 

The students participated in a 6-week training experience during which they learned to analyse their campus ecosystems and identify opportunities for change related to innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking, and creativity. They worked to understand the needs of peers on the University campus and apply this new knowledge and perspective to design new educational opportunities for their peers. In early 2024 the student team will prototype a new programme that focuses on shadowing start-ups and early stage companies to better understand how firms work and what types of roles students may wish to undertake once they are finished university and moving onto their next chapter.

The Fellows programme is run by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d. School). With the addition of the new Fellows, the programme has trained more than 3,100 students since its creation.   Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, Co-Director of the University Innovation Fellows programme ‘Fellows Mia, Sophie and Ciaran have developed new ways to help students at the University of Galway enhance their innovation skills, connect their learning with real-world applications, and gain access to essential resources. We’re so proud of the hard work they’ve done already, and we’re excited to see the impact they continue to have’.

Dr Natalie Walsh a Faculty Innovation Fellow with Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school) and the Director of Entrepreneurial Development in the University of Galway stated that ‘We are delighted to join the University Innovation Fellowship community and support our students to design new experiences that support all students to develop the skills and mindsets necessary to navigate these uncertain times and to shape the future they want to see.  The partnership aligns with our values of excellence and sustainability, and we are excited to launch a new programme designed and delivered by Mia, Ciaran and Sophie in early 2024’.

 University of Galway is the only Irish University who have taken part in the UIF programme.  A core theme of the programme supports responsible futuring and the team look forward to travelling to the University of Twente in 2024 to build skills and expertise and connect in person with the UIF community of over 2,000 faculty and students from across the globe.

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