STEM Foundation

Innovation Centre, Hub, Lab Certification

Accelerate Innovation Capability in Staff and Students

The innovation capability is in every one of us. It is a key element that defines and shapes any social and economic activity. Innovation training, learning and development can enable learners to transform the way they think and learn, challenge their own self-bias and assumptions and stimulate their creative discovery potential. 

Innovation Centre/ Hub/ Lab – a “shorthand” for presenting a designated capability or a range of capabilities that could be brought together and clustered to drive innovation – often used by educational providers to offer an effective and visible mechanism/ platform that enables students, staff and employers to engage and build innovation capacity, thereby demonstrating the value of their innovation efforts.

This Certification Scheme (Certified Innovation Centre, Certified Innovation Hub and Certified Innovation Lab) covers Innovation Training, Innovation Development and Innovation Assessment, all within the context of advancing innovation education, learning and development.

The IKE Institute operates three Certification options – one for each of the terms: Innovation Centre, Innovation Hub and Innovation Lab in order to reflect the primary focus of your organisation. The choice of which certification option you would like to pursue should be identified at the application point to best reflect your context and need. However, the specifications for certification process for each of the three options remain the same.   

The following table provides guidance on interpretations of the three certification options:

Table 1

IKE Institute Certification Option Certified Innovation Centre Certified Innovation Hub Certified Innovation Lab
Primary Focus
New Product Development (Initiation, Ideation, Integration and Implementation)

Business Model Innovation Development

Strategic Business Development
Networks' Development and Support
Technology Experimentation 

Significant Innovation Challenges


New Proof of Concepts/Prototyping

A function within the main educational providers
Can either be semi-autonomous or fully autonomous


Common Features
Dedicated space that supports brainstorming/design sprints and engages diverse participants (students, educators, employers).

Facilitation of entrepreneurship and employability.

Delivering Innovation Training and Development.
Dedicated space that supports brainstorming/design sprints and engages diverse participants (students, educators, employers).

Facilitation of entrepreneurship and employability.

Delivering Innovation Training and Development.
Dedicated space that supports brainstorming/design sprints and engages diverse participants (students, educators, employers).

Facilitation of entrepreneurship and employability.

Delivering Innovation Training and Development.

The common denominator across the Innovation Centre, Hub and Lab is in your ability to demonstrate Innovation Training, Development and Assessment to your students and other users within the educational context. These are the services that are being Certified by the IKE Institute under this Certification Scheme.

Benefits »

Achieving the Certified Innovation Centre, Hub or Lab status helps your organisation to gain:

  • Visible recognition by a UK Professional Body aligned to International Standards;
  • Validation of how robust your innovation systems, processes, culture and engagements are;
  • A competitive advantage and attractiveness through differentiation of a Certified status;
  • Enhanced innovation capability readiness and increased innovation maturity level;
  • Better ecosystem (students, staff, employers, partners) and stakeholder commitments and collaborations;
  • Insights into the wider innovation Training, Development and Assessment space.

Who Can Apply For The Certification Mark? »

An organisation (an educational provider or a company with educational focus) who operates an Innovation Centre, Hub or Lab and is able to satisfy the following two-point criteria:

  1. Complete  and submit Your Application Form for a Certified Innovation Centre, Hub or Lab to the IKE Institute Accreditation and Certification Team (compulsory);
  2. Undergo the Assessment Validation by the IKE Institute Visiting Panel.

Those educational and training providers with an Innovation Centre, Hub or Lab who have successfully met the above criteria are deemed to have the requisite understanding and knowledge in applying innovation processes, management and systems. Thus, they are authorised to use the Certification Mark ‘IKE Institute Certified Innovation Centre, Hub or Lab’.

Reference To International Standards »

The IKE Institute Validation applies the ISO 56002 Guidance Standard 2019  (available from BSI) as the benchmark in setting the baseline for assessing practices pertaining to establishing innovation processes, instilling a culture of innovation, obtaining customer/ end-user insights and engaging networks and stakeholders.

What Are The Requisite Characteristics To Become Certified?

The Certified Mark of Innovation Centre, Hub or Lab is defined by the following 4 Characteristics:


1. Innovative Capability

Having the ability to perform innovation activities and innovation initiatives and to achieve innovation. Innovation capabilities can include proficiency in technologies, strategic intelligence, access to funds, operational functions, processes contributing to innovation and an established approach for the development and management of innovation competencies.
2. Empowered Innovation Environment Capability Having the ability to create an empowered innovation environment characterised by openness, curiosity, and user focus; encouraging feedback and suggestions; encouraging learning, experimentation, creativity, change, and challenging current assumptions; encouraging risk-taking and learning from failure; networking, collaboration, and participation internally and externally; diversity, respect, and inclusiveness of different people, disciplines, and perspectives in innovation activities; shared values, beliefs and behaviours; balancing assumption-based and evidence-based analysis and decision-making; balancing linear and non-linear planning and processes.
3. Collaborative Networking and Ecosystem Capability Having a defined approach for the management of internal and external collaboration (e.g. universities, research organisations, accelerators, catapults and other wider innovation ecosystems) to facilitate sharing and access to knowledge, competence, other intellectual assets, and resources.
4. Market Trends and Customer Analysis Capability Having demonstrable capabilities in acquiring insights and knowledge about relevant trends and challenges, competitive analysis, analysis of disruptive technologies, patterns and behaviours within markets and discovery of customer needs to inform business case development and value realisation.

The Certification Process

The certification process consists of the following two stages:

Stage 1: Application Process »

When you are ready to apply, you will need to complete the Application Form provided by the IKE Institute.

The Form requires the organisation to satisfy the four characteristics needed by the Certification Scheme.

The Form is split into a ‘Support Statement’, and, ‘List of Evidence’ – all focused on meeting the following four characteristics:

  1. Innovative Capability (20 points)
  2. Empowered Innovation Environment Capability (20 points)
  3. Collaborative Networking and Ecosystem Capability (15 points), and
  4. Market Trends and Customer Analysis Capability (15 points).

Completion of the Form contributes 70% of the application process.

For each of the four characteristics, the Form identifies the sections that need to be completed by both the applying organisation and the Institute's Assessment Panel. The Form also provides guidance on the Type of Evidence expected in the submission to support the application for entry into the Certified Mark scheme.

Stage 2: Validation Visit by the IKE Institute Panel of Advisors »

The Validation Visit takes place at the organisation. The organisation would be expected to give a presentation covering the four characteristics. The visit would include a tour around the facility (Centre, Hub or Lab), with demonstrations by the applying organisation and part taking in a Question and Answer session by the IKE Institute Advisors.

Completion of the Validation Visit contributes 30% of the application process.

The IKE Institute Panel would then provide a final score.

The minimum threshold to join the Certified Mark Scheme is 60 points.

Annual Review Process

For a member organisation wishing to maintain its membership in the Certified Mark Scheme, they will be required to undergo an annual Review at or before the anniversary of them being admitted to the scheme. An Annual Review will be conducted by a Panel from the IKE Institute.

The review process will primarily consist of 3 elements »

  1. Completion of the Review Questionnaire by the organisation with cited evidence list;
  2. A Review Meeting, which will last for approx. 3 hours, must highlight any new evidence, new innovation initiatives, activities and targets relating to each of the characteristics that may impact the final score;
  3. Review the status of any outstanding previous outstanding Actions and Recommendations that required to be addressed.

Under the Review Process the following point-allocations are used »

  • Innovative Capability (20 points);
  • Empowered aInnovation Environment Capability (20 points);
  • Collaborative Networking and Ecosystem Capability (15 points); and
  • Market Trends and Customer Analysis Capability (15 points).

A minimum score of 60% must be achieved to enable the Certified Mark to be maintained.

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“Working with the Institute to gain Investor in Innovations status as well as develop an Innovation Hub has been highly beneficial for Highbury College. The IKE expert team of practitioners and advisors has really helped me and the College understand its current innovation capability and has also helped identify gaps to further develop the strategic innovative capability of the organisation. The team are highly knowledgeable and offer extensive networks of experiences which the College is leveraging to develop its growth plans.”
Paul Rolfe, Head of Technology & Innovation, Highbury College, Portsmouth

“We are absolutely delighted to receive the I3 Hub Certification – the whole college works very hard to underpin excellence in innovative practices – from fostering a culture of learning innovation to creating inspirational learning experiences, we demonstrably identify and fulfil industry demand with relevant qualifications, which ultimately make a dramatic difference to individuals, businesses and our local community. As a team we think very differently to provide solutions, and this is the core of our practice underpinning this recognition.”
Audrey Kingham, Deputy Principal, Tyne Met College

“The Innovation Hub at East Berkshire College will enable the College to realise its vision to put employers at the heart of the curriculum.  Empowering employers to shape aspects of the curriculum which improves the employability of learners (STEM, Design and Entrepreneurship).  Additionally employers will have access to a secure creative space to explore innovative solutions in collaboration with students or in seclusion with their teams and business partners.”
Virginia Barrett, Deputy Principal, East Berkshire College

“The IKE Institute’s assessment of Thales Innovation Hub has meant that innovation continues to spread and remains fresh. It also challenged our assumptions, and, to come up with new thinking. We continue to learn from the process.”
Drew O’Sullivan, Thales Technical Coordinator

STEM > Innovation Driven Education