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David Gauntlett
Entrepreneurship Series: expert-comment

Q&A with Professor David Gauntlett

An interview with Cass Innovate 2017's keynote speaker.

by Kyla Jardine (Senior Communications Officer)

We spoke to David Gauntlett, one of Cass Innovate's keynote speakers about innovation and entrepreneurship - two key themes at this year's conference.

David is Professor of Creativity and Design, and Director of Research, at Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design, University of Westminster.

He has made a number of popular online resources, videos and playthings, and has pioneered creative research and workshop methods. He is an external examiner for Information Experience Design at the Royal College of Art, London.

David has worked with a number of the world’s leading creative organisations, including the BBC, the British Library, and Tate. For 12 years he has worked with LEGO on innovation in creativity, play and learning.

How would you define innovation? And, how is your organisation supporting and leading innovation?

Innovation is about doing things different and better, which results from having generated some good ideas, and communicated them simply and clearly. So organisationally it is important to give people the space to develop their own passions – because all good things come from personal quests – and then to help people to communicate about them and to develop worthwhile applications of them.

What do you look for in an innovator?

Broad interests, ability to connect up different things, and clear communication. Plus a sense of fun.

What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur?

First, starting up. Then, keeping going. Also, knowing when to stop. In all these things you benefit enormously from mentors, supporters and friends.

What do you wish you had learned at school to make your innovation/entrepreneurship journey easier?

When school was boring, I learned to muck about creatively with my friends. So that was quite good, because school was often quite boring. But the new model where a small number of cool schools make it so that the lessons themselves are all about mucking about with your friends to solve creative and real-world challenges, well that’s mind-blowing, and obviously sounds quite inappropriate.

If you could have given yourself advice 10 years ago, what would it be?

10 years ago I already knew the value of diverse faraway connections, so my advice would be much more local. I would say, "There are amazing things happening within your own building that you have no idea about – go for a walk along unexpected corridors and see what turns up."

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