To develop my long-term research agenda on collective creativity in new organisational contexts, I am currently acting as the principal investigator of an ESRC Transformative Grant Project called Networked Creativity (please see the outline below for more detail). This endeavour explores how creative interactions shape the business models of emerging entrepreneurs who make use of London’s cutting-edge coworking spaces. Dr Onya Idoko & Julia Oertli are the co-leaders of this project; there are also several brilliant external members whose profiles will shortly be uploaded on the project website (link to be added here!).

In the recent past, I have written about innovation labs as a promising vehicle for the co-creation of solutions to grand challenges, and at the moment I am developing new ideas as well as proposals around the effects of mindfulness training on collective creativity and sense of purpose in new organisations. Please give me a shout if these themes overlap with some of your own interests and areas of expertise!

Networked Creativity – a project summary

Networked Creativity (“NetCreate” in short) is an ESRC-funded Transformative Grant project hosted at the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity that investigates collective creativity among entrepreneurs who use coworking spaces in London. Led by Dr Tuukka Toivonen as the Principal Investigator, the project launched in mid-2016 and is set to continue into 2018 when key findings will be submitted to top management and entrepreneurship journals.

Using an original methodology that mixes monthly in-depth interviews, mobile surveys and episodes of shadowing, NetCreate traces the evolution of early-stage business ideas with attention to different types of creative interactions that unfold in co-working spaces and beyond. In search of ‘the creative interactions that matter’, the project seeks to identify the ways in which certain interactions co-shape emerging ideas through novelty, challenge and serendipity.

Specifically, we are linking generative interactions to changes in participants’ business models, which we evaluate through creating cognitive maps of such models at monthly intervals. This two-track methodology – that tracks interactions and business model alterations – is expected to surface new patterns of “networked creativity”. While contributing to our understanding of creative interactions in the context of the relevant organisational (scholarly) literature, our findings will speak directly to the question of how coworking spaces, incubators and accelerators catalyse creativity and knowledge-creation among their members (i.e., demonstrating their ‘creative added value’).

NetCreate strives to reach beyond the mainstream of organisational creativity studies, most of which have either been conducted in conventional organisational settings (rather than in fluid entrepreneurial contexts) or with far more attention to structural network characteristics than to the content and quality of actual interactions. We are also committed to making a useful contribution to existing coworking communities and the wider industry by evidencing the intangible, invisible value these spaces generate as they support innovation by startups and small enterprises.