Thursday, 26 May 2016 – The Innovation Academy at UCD is working with the Department of Higher Education in Malaysia as it implements its policy on entrepreneurship education and development.

Established five years ago, the Innovation Academy has established a reputation internationally for its work in developing impactful entrepreneurship and creativity programmes in the context of government cutbacks in education and a severe economic crisis. Over 2000 people have undertaken Innovation Academy programmes since 2010.

Suzi Jarvis, co-founder of Innovation Academy is now spearheading its internationalisation and has appointed an international advisory board to advise on its future direction and growth. The advisory board includes leading entrepreneurs Raomal Perera (Chair) Entrepreneur and Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at INSEAD and Colm Lyon, Founder and CEO of Fire Financial Services Limited and Founder and former CEO of Realex Payments. Educationalist Gay Haskins, Former Dean of Executive Education and CEO of the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford; and Datin Dr. Syahira Hamidon, Head of the Entrepreneurship Unit, Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia also sit on the advisory board.

In addition to its work in Malaysia, the Innovation Academy has delivered workshops in the United Kingdom, Slovenia and Estonia and has been invited by the Zurich University of Teacher Education to deliver its workshop programme in Switzerland next year.

“Our experiences in Malaysia are very interesting and we can learn a lot from each other. There the government has invested heavily in education reform and in addition there are new private universities which are very student centric and are innovating around the student experience. Here in Ireland we could enable more agility and flexibility in the system but we are still focused on teaching according to age cohorts; in subject silos and with a strong emphasis on teaching to the test. We are at a crucial point where if we don’t enable greater innovation in the education system itself, the consequences will be very serious for our society and individuals within it”, said Prof. Suzi Jarvis, founding director, Innovation Academy UCD.

Prof. Jarvis said that like Ireland, Malaysia has a young and growing population which will see increased demand for higher education, and both countries have experienced severe recession. However, Malaysia has a clear blueprint for higher education and is following through with action.

“The Malay Government has in place an economic development plan for the development of an Entrepreneurial Nation and at its heart is entrepreneurship education and development, together with an Entrepreneurship Strategic Plan for universities, polytechnics and community colleges who co-ordinate programmes on entrepreneurship. That focus on developing creativity and nurturing entrepreneurial mindsets in our young people is happening in an ad hoc way in Ireland and may well leave our young people rudderless in a rapidly changing world.”, she said.

“Our understanding of how people learn is changing and we need to develop an education system that better reflects all our human needs and development. We now know that the plasticity of the human brain is far greater than previously thought and lifelong curiosity and an appetite for learning must become the norm. Frankly, sitting in a classroom or lecture theatre listening to teachers or lecturers is not the optimum. We learn by doing and reflecting on our experiences and we are often at our most motivated and receptive when we share the learning experience with others.

“At the Innovation Academy we’re focused on experiential learning in multidisciplinary communities. To develop creative minds and entrepreneurialism we have to embed experiential learning into our formal education structures and we have to support our teachers and lecturers in doing this”, she said. “The revolutionary change we need can only come from within the system”.

“The measure of our impact as educators should not be based on exam results but rather on the outcomes for our students once they leave us, how well they are prepared for life.”, she added.