Innovations That Inspire

BSc in Digital Business and Innovation

Recognition Year(s): 2023
School: Dublin City University Business School, Dublin City University
Location: Ireland

The BSc in Digital Business and Innovation was co-created with industry partners using a blue ocean strategy framework. Students in the program follow a thematic learning journey blending digital and human quotients.

Call to Action

The Irish Government’s Human Capital Initiative (HCI) is a national competitive funding program designed to future-proof graduates with industry-relevant skills for emerging technologies. It aims to promote innovative methods of teaching and delivery so that learners will benefit from improved quality and more engaging ways of learning on enterprise-focused courses while increasing institutions’ ongoing capacity to anticipate, understand, and respond rapidly to emerging skill needs of enterprise.

Dublin City University (DCU) secured funding under pillar three of the HCI scheme targeted at “a radical reimagination of the university’s curriculum to enhance innovation and agility for future skills needs,” which is a central element of DCU’s strategic plan. As a critical part of this DCU Futures initiative, the degree was co-created with industry partners who are also involved in its delivery and evaluation. It aims to transform the learning of undergraduate students by reconceptualizing teaching; introducing exciting, new areas of study; and embedding digital literacies, disciplinary competencies, and transferable skills.

The BSc in Digital Business and Innovation is positioned at the intersection of the opportunities and challenges posed by digital transformation and innovation. It is estimated that there are now five times more connected digital devices than people on the planet, and the equivalent of 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the last several years (CISCO, 2021; World Economic Forum, 2020). Many companies recognize the need to innovate in the face of these challenges, but they are struggling.

Innovation Details

The BSc in Digital Business and Innovation was designed to do things differently. Key stakeholders, industry partners, and cross-faculty groups engaged in a series workshops following the blue ocean strategy framework, outlining pain points and legacy approaches that hinder innovation as well as identifiying ideal approaches forward. For example, what could we create that had never been offered before? Drawing from these insights, the program was designed based on the following principles:

  • Eliminate—Terminal examinations: the degree is the first in Ireland to be based on 100 percent continuous assessment.
  • Reduce—Traditional lecture format and timetable; assessment pinch points; exclusive reliance on face-to-face format.
  • Raise—Industry engagement through multiple touchpoints rather than exclusively for work placements; formative learning opportunities; tech-rich assessment; student community; opportunity for holistic self-development; recognition of failure; number of longer—10-credit—and yearlong modules.
  • Create—Teaching blocks via sprints and hackathons; autonomous learning pathways; international virtual collaboration; themed learning journey and work placement; live learning portfolio; suite of modules focused on personal development.

Innovation Impact

The BSc in Digital Business and Innovation won the Higher Education Awards’ Best Student Experience Category, March 2022. As per the judges commendation, “DCU’s approach to reimagining their curriculum was very exciting to our panel.” They felt it was designed to provide students with the skill set needed to navigate a career in a rapidly changing and challenging work environment.

The transversal skills development program was of particular interest to the judges who commended the resulting high level of employer engagement with significant graduate employment rates. A critical cornerstone to the success of the degree is ongoing engagement with our partners. As noted by DCU alum Brian Smyth, global innovation director at Accenture, “Accenture is delighted to partner with DCU to co-create DCU Futures—a groundbreaking initiative to transform the student learning experience. We passionately believe that traditional approaches to higher education need to be disrupted to prepare the next generation for an exciting but uncertain future.”

Twenty-four students pursued the degree in the first cohort in September 2021, while in 2022 we welcomed 36 students. On completion, students will have gained:

  • An understanding of key enabling technologies and their business, economic, and social impact.
  • Practical knowledge and experience in applying digital technologies to achieve business objectives and address societal challenges.
  • An innovative mindset, providing insights into how to create value by leveraging digital technologies.
  • A capacity to explore, understand, develop, and enhance the basis of personal achievement.

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