Teaching Fellow teams up with M&S for new online course in business innovation

World class innovation by leading retailer Marks & Spencer will be featured in a new free online course, one of two new MOOC's (Massive Open Online Course) launched by the University of Leeds.

Design expert Dan Trowsdale, Senior Teaching Fellow in the School of Mechanical Engineering, will be heading up the three-week Innovation course. It aims to provide valuable professional development to people at various stages of their career.

Innovation: the key to business success runs from September 15 and uses case studies from the University of Leeds as well as M&S, with which it has a key partnership – illustrating how people are key to driving successful innovation in existing businesses.

Dan Trowsdale said: “This course is about the innovation process, not just the idea of invention, but taking a creative idea, commercialising it and also how simple ideas can have a huge impact on society.

“To illustrate successful innovation, we will draw upon case studies from Marks & Spencer. Using material from the Company Archive based here on campus and interviews with Marks & Spencer employees, we will explore a number of their innovations.”

He added that examples of innovation from the University would show how cutting-edge research can lead to innovations that move businesses forward.

Alison Houston, Head of the M&S Company Archive, said: “This unique course brings together learnings from professional business and academia, illustrating how creative concepts are balanced with commercial thinking to forge business success.

“M&S has always had innovation at the heart of its business, right from our early beginnings in Leeds, and we are looking forward to collaborating with the University of Leeds to open this experience up to all.”

The course is the second of a two-part business series developed by the University – the first course looks at enterprise and harnesses entrepreneurial expertise gleaned from successful start-ups. 
Starting a business: realise your vision will run from June 30, will show participants how to turn an idea into a successful business opportunity.

Both courses will run FutureLearn, the social learning platform, and are open to anyone with a computer, tablet or smartphone. The courses feature videos, interactive quizzes and fora allowing participants to ask questions and interact with their peers. Both courses will offer the opportunity for learners to buy a Statement of Participation on completion of the course.

Professor Neil Morris, Director of Digital Learning at the University of Leeds, said: “Both courses aim to stimulate and encourage further growth in innovation and entrepreneurialism in the business sector. They illustrate how the University is working with successful individuals and companies to develop freely available educational materials for the benefit of all online learners.”

Both courses offer about four hours’ learning each week, which participants can do in their own time.

For more details, see digitallearning.leeds.ac.uk/starting-a-business and digitallearning.leeds.ac.uk/innovation. Or visit FutureLearn at https://www.futurelearn.com