Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 4651-4661
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain
The current scenario is characterized by great economic and social trends like the increasing relevance of the creativity and the ideas generation, the network’s innovation power and the information technology growth.
The paper offer the results of a research aimed to understand the impact of this factors on the students education process and the way their creativity can contribute to the economic and social development.
We have considered the last creativity based economic theory (Florida R., Hippel E. V., Tapscott D., Rifkin J., Howe J.) and then we have analyzed both the old and the new models related with the research’s topic: from the classical business incubator to the last crowd sourcing and creative communities (Startup Weekend, H-farmventures, Innocentive, Crowdspring, OpenIdeo,…).

Trying to deepen the matter we designed a service, integrated with the academic environment, that encourages the entrepreneurship of the design students and supports the creation of project teams.
Polibrain is characterized by open innovation and online collaborative tools and provides a web platform that is the main touchpoint with which the users (students, teachers and guests) get in contact.
PoliBrain platform acts primarily on 4 different sides:
- It makes the student’s and teacher’s relations easier, more frequent and more efficient.
- It removes the cultural and physical walls between the different degrees and the different faculties, creating multidisciplinary networks.
- It makes student’s projects and innovations visible to external subject like companies and investors and directly funds the best ones.
- It provides reputation, visibility and new contacts to the University.

The platform plans some of the classic social network’s features but unlike them it’s not limited to interaction: it’s focused on the collaboration processes, allowing the development of projects from the concept and recruiting phases to the fund raising stage.
The implementation in the academic environment (we chose the Design Faculty of the Politecnico di Milano as proving ground) assures some special factors which make the creative process extremely efficient:
- There are tens of thousands of students working in different fields and characterized by different skills and competences and they all could be potential collaborators for the development of others student’s projects.
- There is an high level of pro-activity and freshness of the ideas, the student’s approach to innovation is often free of preconceptions.
- There are a lot of teachers with specializations and experience in every fields who could be the mentors of some student’s projects.
- The University has a lot of resources and got the capacity to attract investors and partners.

PoliBrain allows not only a more effective support to the project’s development increasing their possibilities to reach and to go beyond the early stage, it also provide specific benefits
to the University and its community.
All the features and the tools implemented in the platform are already avalaible on the web, in fact Polibrain is not aimed to a “technologic innovation” but to a “social innovation”: it uses the technology to change the actors role and to enlarge their opportunities, to grant more flexibility and to increase the interactivity of the system.
Co-learning, university, network, open innovation, collaboration, web, social, creativity, support, service design.