Innovation Challenge - Bridging the Gap between Science and Business Studies


For today’s IT organization, working in teams across functional and even organizational boundaries has become an integral part of every project. When asked about these projects, practitioners regularly report on how grave differences between business professionals and technology teams have negatively affected project performance. The serious gap between how the two sides think, talk and work is systemic already in the training and education of both Business and Computer Science students at the university level. This paper describes the design of a competitive “SFU Innovation Challenge”, which aims to bridge that gap by tasking interdisciplinary groups to create iPhone application prototypes and related business innovation roadmaps. This document then summarizes the objectives of the SFU Innovation Challenge, and reports on the difficulties and positive results that materialized when students combined their technological problem-solving techniques and managerial strategies for effectively confronting real-world problems.

In the Fall of 2009, Dr. Jan Kietzmann from the Faculty of Business and Dr. Herbert H. Tsang from the School of Computing Science, both at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in British Columbia, Canada, approached this problem by combining two class projects and hosting a joint SFU Innovation Challenge. In this project, teams comprised of students from both BUS 338 (Understanding Technological Innovation) and CMPT 275 (Software Engineering I) had to work together to develop an iPhone application and an innovation roadmap to market. This joint effort received funding from SFU's University/Industry Liaison Office (UILO). At the end of the semester a grand finale was hosted, where teams presented their work to a panel of judges.

A paper that described our adventure in Fall 2009 (SFU Innovation Challenge) was published in WCCCE 2010.

  • J. Kietzmann and H. H. Tsang, "Minding the Gap: Bridging Computing Science and Business Studies with an Interdisciplinary Innovation Challenge", WCCCE 2010 - the 15th Western Canadian Conference on Computing Education, University of British Columbia, May 7 - 8, 2010, P. 80-84

To see student's project examples, click here.


The following table summarized the different projects we have done in various semesters.

Semester Special Projects Description
Fall 2009 CMPT 275 Class Project - SFU Innovation Challenge Project centered on “Mobile education in today’s workforce”. Collaboration with Dr. Jan Kietzmann, SFU School of Business and Elmer Sum, SFU’s University / Industry Liaison Office (UILO)
Fall 2010 CMPT 275 Class Project - Information portal There were two sponsors for this semester: The Dean's office of Faculty of Applied Science and the School of Business (SFU Innovation Challenge II)
Fall 2011 CMPT 275 Class Project SFU Innovation Challenge III


Please feel free to contact Dr. Herbert H. Tsang is you are interested in collaboration.

© 2011, Herbert H. Tsang,

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