The Annenberg Innovation Lab is a high-energy, fast-paced Think & Do Tank in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. We define innovation as a social, collaborative process involving artists, scientists, humanists and industry professionals working together on new problems and opportunities raised by technological and cultural change. Our mission is to foster real-world innovation at the dynamic intersection of media and culture.
The Lab emphasizes research that combines theory and practice to understand the ongoing evolution of media and its impact on governments, businesses, education, creators and consumers, with a particular focus on the future of the media landscape and its impact on society over the next 3-5 years.
By mixing leading domain experts, thought leaders, scholars and practitioners from across USC with sponsors and research partners from some of the world’s most innovative global companies, foundations, and public sector entities, the Innovation Lab has pioneered breakthroughs in multiple areas, including big data social sentiment analytics and the use of transmedia techniques in branding, ideation, social curation and storytelling.
In its short history, the Innovation Lab has attracted support from leading media, technology, telecom and consumer products companies from around the world, including BET Networks, Cisco Systems, DirecTV, Disney, Dreamworks Animation, EPB, Fox Broadcasting, Havas Media, IBM, Intel, The Los Angeles Times, Mattel, Orange, Paramount Pictures, Petrobras, Spark 44, Verizon, Viacom, and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. We have also received funding from the Ahmanson Foundation, the Blackstone Foundation, the Digital Media Learning Research Hub supported by the MacArthur Foundation, and the Gates Foundation to work on projects at the intersection of social and technological spheres.
To achieve our mission, the Lab engages in five key activities:
- Design and deliver participatory learning and executive education experiences, such as our Think & Do Workshops. We use our proprietary “Think & Do” method to bring together students, executives, artists, entrepreneurs, scholars and policy makers to generate innovation on a specific problem that yields tangible processes or products. Recent workshops have focused on Re-Envisioning the Home TV Experience and Investigating Business Models in an All- Mobile Environment.
- Create prototypes that demonstrate the real-world applicability of our theories. Since the best way to shape the future is to build it, we test the theories and insights that emerge from our research, including our Think & Do Workshops, by creating functional prototypes that we share with our sponsors and the public to accelerate understanding and growth for everyone.
- Author multimedia publications to advance learning in academia, industry, and the public. Even the greatest insights are useless if no one hears and adopts them. The Innovation Lab shares its findings in multiple venues, including books, white papers, academic journals, media industry trade publications, and mass media such as the Wall Street Journal or the Los Angeles Times.
- Design innovation challenges that support and mentor student startups through events, challenges and prizes. Past winners from the Lab’s CRUNCH student innovation challenge have gone on to prestigious accelerator programs. In 2014 we expanded the initiative, with funding from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, to welcome students from across USC into what is being called the USC Blackstone LaunchPad.
- Inform policy on the infrastructure and ethics of a new media and entertainment ecosystem. Members of the Lab’s research council have advised the FCC on Net Neutrality, testified before the U.S. Senate on media effects, and advised foreign heads of state both individually and via the World Economic Forum.