The Creation Spaces project is one of several projects included in the Digital Problem-Solving Initiative (“DPSI”) pilot at Harvard University.  DPSI is an innovative and collaborative project that brings together interested students, faculty, fellows, and staff and enables participants to work in teams on practicable and concrete digital use cases – problems and opportunities – across the university. The pilot offers students and other participants a novel opportunity to enhance and cultivate competency with digital tools and online activity as teams engage with research, creative production, and policies governing the digital world.

The Creation Spaces project seeks to catalog, design, evaluate, and develop shared practices around innovation labs and related spaces that bring people together to promote creativity and innovation. Innovation spaces and communities have thrived in recent years, including independent centers and programs affiliated with organizations (such as philanthropic foundations, media companies, venture funds, and universities). They include maker spaces, labs, and accelerators that vary widely in terms of goals, resources, and methodology. These centers are typically focused on serving the needs of their communities and fostering the development of viable businesses. Many such spaces have emerged independently, ad hoc, often without robust mechanisms in place to evaluate their effectiveness and share knowledge with other centers or the innovation community as a whole. They typically conduct only modest amounts of research, if any, and may be in a position to invest only limited time and energy reflecting on their own experiences and examining the experiences of similarly-situated centers. From design to management to evaluation and assessment, innovation spaces and accelerators might benefit greatly from a broader and more developed sense of current policies and practices.

The Creation Spaces project seeks to close a knowledge gap by engaging in strategic research geared toward identifying practices and trends and pooling knowledge about the role that innovation spaces can play in effectively promoting entrepreneurship and innovation. In so doing, it is expected that the project will also identify opportunities for collaborations and cooperative resource creation that could extend the reach and efficacy of innovation communities broadly while also identifying additional productive and engaging digital problem-solving challenges within the Harvard community.