5 Innovation Campaign Ideas for Universities

university open innovation

Some universities come to IdeaScale with a targeted problem they want to solve, and with a vision to use open innovation to source solutions. Others come to IdeaScale with a vision to use open innovation to increase community engagement, but the specific problem to which they will apply this method is not yet defined. Either way, we are here to help you shape a university open innovation campaign that meets your objectives.

When university open innovation is the solution to an existing objective

For some universities, the decision to build an open innovation program derives from a targeted problem they want to solve. They have identified open innovation is a key component to their overall strategy, and they come to us for a university open innovation software solution to scale up their ability to gather input and ideas from the crowd. In this case, the campaign is designed around the target problem.

For example, one university approached us with a high-level directive to make attendance at their school more affordable. The university president had already set up a task force for addressing this issue, but they needed a way to capture and organize ideas from the entire university community. We worked with the university to set up a targeted “affordability campaign” on IdeaScale’s platform, gathering creative ideas from students, faculty, staff, and administrators on how to control the cost of attendance at the university.

When an innovation campaign issue strikes close to home – in this case, the pocket book – the crowd will be eager to contribute ideas. It’s important that you choose the right platform to capture that enthusiasm and cultivate an online environment to develop them into full solutions for implementation.

When existing objectives are the seeds for university open innovation

Some universities are not certain which problem they want to target, but they approach us with an entirely different directive. In these cases, the university leadership has heard about the power and importance of open innovation and wants to position the university community at the cutting edge of innovation methodology. There is a high-level directive to engage the university community in an open innovation program.

This is an important object in itself, because it supports an institutional culture that is open, innovative, and cutting edge. However, just as in the first case, the university still needs a campaign around which to rally the crowd.

Starting with a blank canvas can seem daunting and the directive to “engage the community in open innovation” can seem amorphous. But the IdeaScale team draws on their extensive experience in this area to guide universities through the process.

Your 5 Innovation Campaign Ideas

To this end, I have compiled a list of ways that universities have used the IdeaScale solution to support organizational excellence. It includes a template of 5 question types and their formats as well as a list of 38 potential improvement sites on your campus.

If your open innovation program is a blank canvas right now, I recommend the following:

  • Take a moment to peruse this list
  • Select a campaign type that will work well for your audience + 3-5 topics that you think are top priorities at your university
  • Discuss with your leadership to choose the priority areas that you will put forth as your inaugural campaigns on the IdeaScale platform

I hope this helps you in shaping your program. We are here for you to discuss what some of these campaigns might look like and to provide tips for communicating these campaigns to engage and activate your audience.


This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

This post is by Whitney Bernstein, Innovation Architect at IdeaScale.

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