About ThinkLab

Unleashing creativity through connectivity and collaboration.

About University of Cambridge ThinkLab

The University of Cambridge ThinkLab began as a Cambridge Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) initiative, designed to help doctoral students at the university connect with social, private, and public organisations. It has since evolved to become an incubator of creativity and innovation, most notably by bridging the academic and business worlds to solve pressing real-life challenges. Devised with input from senior leaders of the BBC, Arts Council England, and the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the ThinkLab model has been applied across projects involving a wide range of partners, including but not limited to Aviva, KPMG, the BBC, the NHS, The Reading Agency, the Royal Society of Arts, the Fitzwilliam Museum, and the Cambridge Festival.

For our latest updates, be sure to follow us on Twitter @ThinkLabCam and LinkedIn.

The ThinkLab Model

The ThinkLab methodology is based upon the work of Dr. Catherine Hasted (Head of Business Partnerships at the University of Cambridge) and draws upon the seminal work in activity theory and expansive learning by Professor Yrjö Engeström.

Every ThinkLab project is unique. The diagram below gives a brief overview of how a ThinkLab project may unfold, but keep in mind as projects evolve and change organically, our teams adapt to the questions and problems as they develop:


Programme Aims

  • Present graduate and doctoral students, as well as working professionals, with a live policy situation or organisational challenge, enabling them to collaborate and brainstorm potential solutions and problem-solving approaches.
  • To promote networking and the sharing of best practice during and beyond the programme.
    Enable students to strengthen a range of capabilities, including but not limited to communications, project management, as well as analytical and research skills.
  • Provide participants of the programme with a new context to apply theories learned in the classroom to complex real-life solutions.
  • Students and organisations benefit from a supportive, shared framework overseen by ThinkLab that enables thoughtful exchanges of different approaches and perspectives.
  • Connecting organisations in need with refreshing insights and evidence-based findings from academia to inform their strategies and approaches.


Programme Impact and Partnerships

Since our inception, we have worked with a range of different partner organisations to create a framework of research, including data collection, analysis and networking opportunities.

Our recent ThinkLab projects have involved partners such as the BBC, Aviva, the Reading Agency, and other parts of the University of Cambridge. For more information about our work, please visit the “Projects” section of our website.

Should you have any additional inquiries, please contact the ThinkLab Manager, Tyler Shores: tyler.shores (at) admin.cam.ac.uk