HKA Asia Pacific’s Industry Innovation Partnership 2023

Innovation at HKA Asia Pacific

HKA’s SPARK team is the innovation engine of our Asia Pacific region, tackling complex problems, enabling meaningful change, and channelling disruptive thinking.

The innovation partnership

The SPARK team has chosen to partner with universities to collaborate with future thought leaders and attract potential HKA applicants who are passionate about infrastructure, consulting and innovation.

In 2023, HKA submitted a successful complex challenge for the Industry Innovation Project (IIP). For the project, students work with their industry partners to dive deep into a challenge, reframing a problem statement presented to experiment and prototype potential solutions. The subject boasts mutual learning opportunities for students and industry partners.

The IIP subject is a unique project-based engagement taught as part of the Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation (BCII) at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Two of HKA’s APAC SPARK members are BCII alums and advocate for the creative minds fostered in this degree environment.

HKA was excited to be a returning partner to the IIP project, after participating in 2019. 2023 was IIP’s largest-ever cohort, with over 200 students split across 36 teams. As part of the subject, HKA participated in UTS panels, with Ben Berry contributing to the ‘Proof of Concept’ panel and Marina Palinginis sitting on a ‘Professional Pathways Beyond BCII Alumni’ panel.

The complex challenge

HKA’s SPARK team worked with a group of five interdisciplinary students over a twelve-week period to tackle the challenge:

“How do Governments navigate the strategic conundrum of investing in long-lived assets (roads, tunnels etc.) without the ability to predict whether transport modes (e.g. air taxis, hyperloop) or people of the future will even use them.”

The SPARK team worked with the students using Agile principles, conducting weekly “scrum” check-ins and “sprints” to enable rich discovery through internal and external interviews. The students were eager to unpack the problem/challenge space, pitching thought-provoking questions, identifying stakeholder pain points and seeking to determine root causes.

UTS / HKA afternoon tea celebration to mark the end of the Industry Innovation Project

Industry innovation insights

By exposing the students to the infrastructure world and introducing them to concepts of project procurement, delivery and control, the group was able to propose:

  • Not how to anticipate but how to encourage a shared ideal future
  • How to advise governments in pursuit of this ideal state instead of playing catch up to “system shocks”
  • How to rethink infrastructural innovation and future-focused strategies.

To wrap up the IIP partnership, three members of the SPARK team attended a ‘sensemaking’ workshop with UTS staff and the other industry partners. The workshop was an opportunity to delve into transdisciplinary values and life-long learning, embracing opportunities to ask “sticky” questions, create new knowledge, and translate problem spaces into opportunity spaces. The event also enabled the team to connect and reflect with other industry partners to share learnings and experiences when tackling wicked, systemic problems.

HKA’s SPARK team will leverage insights from the industry innovation project and continue their partnership with the university by hosting students for an Innovation Internship.

HKA Spark’s Jessie Schilling, Marina Palinginis, Ben Rosengren with Emily Vickery (UTS BCII Industry Partnerships Officer)
HKA’s Jessie Schilling and Marina Palinginis with the other UTS Alumni involved in the initiative

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