Panel session: Dragon's den

Dragon's DenThree pitches for investment in innovative, radical approaches, followed by round table...

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Gráinne Conole
5 February 2010

Dragon's Den
Three pitches for investment in innovative, radical approaches, followed by round table discussion and final vote.
Chaired by Professor Sir Tim O'Shea, Edinburgh University and Chair of JISC

For Discussion:

  • 'If you were on the receiving end of this pitch, how would you respond?', 'What, if anything, could you take from this pitch to your own institution?' Final ten minutes for voting and any final comment from Dragons, Chair and/or successful 'pitcher'.

The Dragons: Wes Streeting, National Union of Students, Dr Diana Oblinger, EDUCAUSE, Inderjit Seerha, University of Cambridge, Professor Dame Joan Stringer, Edinburgh Napier University

The Pitchers: Professor Nigel Seaton, University of Surrey; Professor Geoffrey Crossick, Goldsmiths, University of London Professor José Chambers, University of Winchester

Extra content

Dragons' Den

Geoff Crossick's pitch:

PItching for medium sized research-intensive Uni - proposal for a Heideggar centre: starting with common misconceptions about research

Will abolish barriers between STEM and other disciplines

Real interdisciplinarity - realigned

Open collaborative space - benefits from reputation - will grasp future of research

The H centre will be a space for interactions - messy but well equipped - encounters between people.

People will bid for time to be in it - PG students etc. Need a clear definition of what they want to do, must have external players - always 5 or 6 projects

Will be off-campus - new ideas and possibilities

Once you've got a grant can't be in it any longer- put money back

Not shaping Knowledge and selling it - turning people into co-producers of Knowledge

Will it work - it's risky but not costly - wil be exciting -

'realign objects on either side of the bridge'


Robin Goodfellow
14:43 on 11 February 2010 (Edited 14:55 on 11 February 2010)

Dragon's Den

Nigel Seaton's pitch:

Uni of Poppleton - aspiring research-led - currently offer 3-year degrees - students get a degree & summer jobs - only 1 year & 3 months learning in company of Uni faculty!

Propose better value & life chances for students. Don't aspire to 2-year degrees but better integration of academic and work-based learning. Propose activity that runs for 45 weeks per year.

Want to prepare students for world of work & escape from 'agriculutural' calendar (don't need to take in the harvest).

45 weeks campus-based then apply learning in setting, followed by more campus-based then research (or other open-ended) project.

Benefits: more experience for students, more value for money, efficiency gains, better utilisation of space.

This is not inconsistent with research mission - will have to manage teaching in more effcient way. Important that new initiative for £500m development should respond.

Robin Goodfellow
14:53 on 11 February 2010 (Edited 14:54 on 11 February 2010)

Dragon's Den

Jose Chambers' pitch:

Modest proposal - may be out of tune with hard times..

Relies on concept of 'thick proximity' rather than virtual contact.

Barchester University - (cathedrals university) - been under scrutiny for 10 years, been shortlisted for uni of the year - a Times higher 'rising star' - but we are exhausted.

All efforts put student at heart of things - award winning students centre with a 'learning cafe' - closed staff common room to convert to 1-stop shop for students - now no social space for staff, except for small dark room.

90% of staff still say they like working at B. Part of HEFCE wellbeing in HE project.

Pitch is for investing in providing space for 'serendipity of interaction' - where all staff can meet and grimble, complain, challenge and learn how to be agile. The 'well' university is not amount becoming resilient, but where there is space for all learners - students and staff - to live the life of the mind.

£100k would meet it - convert the dim dark space to somewhere where staff can delight.


Robin Goodfellow
15:04 on 11 February 2010

The Panel discussion:

Like the concept of bringing staff together - being creative & agile means somewhere for it to take place.

This is the time we need to think about investing in staff - we are a people business.

Poppleton proposal is innovative - motivating for students, link to industry

Heidegger Centre is appealing - simplicity of bringing lots of different kinds of organisations into interaction with HE 


Robin Goodfellow
15:12 on 11 February 2010

The Vote:

Heidegger: 13

3-year placement experience: 11

Staff comfy room: 3

Geoff Crossick wins!

Robin Goodfellow
15:23 on 11 February 2010

Embedded Content


Patrick McAndrew
2:40pm 11 February 2010

Trying out a Drago's Den format the idea is that there are several people pitching. The Drogon's Den format means that there should be some bright ideas and then these are picked apart by the Dragon's who decide whether to fund or not. In this case it also has a touch of X-factor as the audience get to vote as well. Will this work - well I guess it depends on the ideas.

Patrick McAndrew
2:43pm 11 February 2010 (Edited 3:10pm 11 February 2010)

The idea being described by Geoff Crossick is about an inter-disciplinary Heidegger Centre that has some sort of nurturing of projects by setting up a bid for research model. Hmm - not sure it sounds different enough with mention of QR funding and overheads.

Patrick McAndrew
2:47pm 11 February 2010

Q: Don't the people you want in the centrehave the misconspetions you are trying to get around.

A:No - that is Government not the people.

Q: Physical space on/off-campus. Need to think beyond the physical. Why is it not online?

A: Best ideas come when people sit down together. (Mixed feelings on that in the room).

Q: Is this sustainable - why doesn't it work anywaywith existing IP.

A: IP models get in the way.

Q: This sounds wishy-washy creative. Need to be more about inclome.

A: Student fees will cover it! (Losing Wes's vote). Plus overestimate this sort of income - get more from side effects.

Patrick McAndrew
2:53pm 11 February 2010

The main proposition from Nigel Seaton is to integrate work-place learning with degree. Work placement generating 45weeks/year of work for students sounds like the old "Sandwich degrees" that are as far as I know still operating. I suppose the novelty comes from recommending that this is for "research-led" institutions to move to year round teaching.

Patrick McAndrew
2:59pm 11 February 2010

Q: How does this scale.

A: We do not have ambitions to take over the whole sector - but the model will spread. Expand to double in 10 years.

Q: Have you underestimated the student life outside of lectures? This will cut the student experience.

A: Will need to be careful with this and with elapsed time - model will suit some and not others.

Q: Good descripion of student hardship - but is your plan the answer? Who pays? And it sounds very rigid - bucking the trend of flexibility?

A: Yes it is constrained. Compaies will pay provided the work is economically useful - it will need backing from a development fund to get started.

Q: What will staff do instead of teaching.

A: Maintain research agenda, generate new research inclome.

Patrick McAndrew
3:04pm 11 February 2010

José from Winchester proposed a space for "serendiptity of interaction" quoting the earlier presentation. I.e. a meeting place for staff. This reminded me of a recent email I was sent about the facilities of Google and the productivity generated by a good place to work.

Robin Goodfellow
3:05pm 11 February 2010

(question from the floor - how do you spell Heid/hied/egger/ar?)

Patrick McAndrew
3:08pm 11 February 2010

Q: What is the space for - would it not be more engaging to reach out to the community?

A: Need a place on-campus where people feel that they belong.

Q: In the current context - can we afford this? And wouldn't it be better to mix with the students?

A:Yes we can - the cost is relatively low.

Q: How could you justify to the public?

A: Make available and emphasise the investment in staff.

Patrick McAndrew
3:12pm 11 February 2010

Two offers of support from the panel for José - nice comfy place for staff. One for Nigel's new structure for teaching. And one for Geoff's centre that brings interactions together.

Patrick McAndrew
3:22pm 11 February 2010

Votes in for the ideas:

  • Heidegger institute: 13 votes
  • Restructured student year: 11 votes
  • Staff comfy room: 3 votes

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