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Royal College of Art Pioneers Design Innovation Lab with Tata Consultancy Services

The Royal College of Art has announced a new Design Innovation Lab, developed with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a leading global IT services, consulting and business solutions organisation. The initiative consolidates the College’s position at the forefront of the most innovative strategies for creating new knowledge and expertise in art and design; a position recently affirmed when the RCA was named the world’s leading university of Art and Design in the 2015 QS World University Rankings. 

The TCS-RCA Design Innovation Lab embodies the College’s continuing commitment to Knowledge Exchange, as located in cross-disciplinary, industry collaborations that address real-world problems. Absolutely at the cutting-edge of this confluence of design thinking, technology and business, the Lab will develop and deliver joint research outcomes, including patent applications and publications.

The Lab, due to open on the College’s South Kensington campus in September 2015, will also act as a hub for the full range of activities supported by the project, adopting an organisational and conceptual model that will facilitate fruitful exchanges between RCA researchers, TCS and their clients. This will see the Lab host students on internships and researchers on sabbaticals, showcase exceptional work by RCA students, TCS clients and partners, and hold workshops and industry events.

As an exercise in Knowledge Exchange, the initiative has clear benefits for all. By bringing together the RCA’s academic and research expertise with TCS’s technological and business insights, it creates ideal conditions for testing and honing design ideas. Specifically, TCS and its clients will have the opportunity to gain access to the RCA’s academic expertise and advice in the development of design projects, while prolonged contact with world-leading industry expertise will open up new avenues of enquiry to the College’s researchers.

The project builds on an already successful working relationship, with past collaborations between the RCA and TCS resulting in outcomes including an innovative new method for contactless payment. Significantly, this emphasis, on long-term development and growth over short-term gains, exemplifies the College’s attitude towards industry partnerships.

Looking ahead to future successes, Shankar Narayan, Country Head UK & Ireland, Tata Consultancy Services, identified the clear gains for TCS of involvement in the Lab. He said, ‘As one of the world’s foremost centres for design innovation and research, the Royal College of Art was the obvious academic partner for TCS in the UK. We have already seen first-hand the value that joint research projects with the RCA can bring and we are excited about the potential benefits that the TCS-RCA Design Innovation Lab will bring for TCS customers in the UK and elsewhere.’

The RCA’s Rector, Dr Paul Thompson, concurred, describing the initiative’s strategic benefits for the College’s international positioning. He concluded, ‘The Royal College of Art’s reputation is founded on our world–leading design research and technological innovation. Key to this is the ability to apply theories and methodologies to real-world issues, translate research findings into practice and work directly with academic, corporate, non-profit and government sectors. The TCS-RCA Design Innovation Lab will give our researchers the facilities and resources they need to explore new areas of research and test their theories with TCS’ impressive list of international clients, looking for the best technology, design and data solutions.’