Innovation is not only STEM! The value of strategic and entrepreneurial approaches in Art and Design Education

Carlos Alberto Montana-Hoyos (UC) and Camilo Potocnjak-Oxman
2017 Conference

The government has recently proposed Australia as an Innovation Nation, trying to promote the commercialization of science and research. However, this focus on ‘innovation’ is usually linked to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths), and priorities are given to Science, with fields as Biomedical or Information Technology (IT) receiving most of the government funding. This view neglects the role of the creative disciplines such as Art and Design, which are sometimes perceived as having ‘cosmetic’, or ‘maker’ roles, rather than ‘tactic’ and ‘strategic’ ones.

In this context, traditional Design disciplines (Graphic, Industrial, Built Environment) have evolved from merely the conception of ‘things’ (be it a print magazine, a piece of furniture, or a building), to broader creative problem solving, management and strategic approaches to achieve predetermined goals, in what becomes a ‘dematerialisation’ of design. New design disciplines, such as Service Design, User-Experience Design (UX) and Business Model Design are increasingly important.


How can design education better prepare designers to play value-creating roles in the Innovation Nation, when non-design professionals are the ones increasingly practicing ‘design thinking’?


This paper describes various educational projects by the authors, which incorporate strategic and entrepreneurial approaches in education. Projects range from ones that explore design of systems, services and user-experiences, to projects that enhance entrepreneurial skills. The paper offers ideas for educators, exemplifying new and increasing values of strategic and entrepreneurial approaches in Art and Design education.

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About the author

A/Prof. Carlos Alberto Montana-Hoyos (PhD) is an Associate Professor of Industrial Design (ID) in the University of Canberra since 2010. He has developed award-winning, multidisciplinary design projects while living in Colombia, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Australia. As an academic, Carlos was Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Product Design Engineering course of EAFIT University in Colombia (2001-2003). He was also a Fellow and Assistant Professor in the ID Program of the National University of Singapore (2006-2010). His research interests are on multidisciplinary and cross-cultural approaches to design, and include topics as Design for Health and Sports, Biomimicry and Design for Sustainability.

Camilo Potocnjak-Oxman is an Industrial Designer from the Universidad de Chile with a Master of Management from the Australian National University. He has worked as an independent designer in a range of industries, including education, games, food and the mining sector. Over the past eight years he has been involved in business education, focusing on innovation and entrepreneurship. This experience has enabled him to work as part of an interdisciplinary team designing and delivering “InnovationACT”, Canberra’s largest entrepreneurship competition, and more recently “Stir”, an online grants platform aimed at drawing emerging creatives to engage with the local innovation ecosystem.