What do IBM, Verizon, Levi’s and Mattel have in common? Sponsorship of the newly founded Annenberg Innovation Lab, a digital incubator looking to nurture cutting-edge thinking around social technology and communication.
The Lab’s initiatives will focus on real-world applications as students and faculty from USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism tackle a range of issues related to technology and communications.
As pitched above, students can develop their own new projects in digital media while receiving technical assistance and competing for funding.
The Lab, thanks to its brand partners and mentors, will sponsor a variety of design competitions to provide a venue where student innovators can develop their own ideas, form interdisciplinary teams and get help bringing those ideas to the attention of top businessmen and investors.
The subject matter that falls under the Lab's umbrella will be broadly and loosely defined as the digital media revolution and its impact on society.
Designs that emerge from the Lab will have a better-than-average chance to see the light of the day in the marketplace.
In the queue for R&D so far:
• Digital tools for journalism and communication scholars including semantic technologies and geolocation apps;
• ITV widgets and apps for HDTV next-generation fiberoptic delivery;
• Advancement of multimedia e-Books;
• Development of 3D Transmedia storytelling tools;
• Social networking around commerce, entertainment and journalism;
• Portable digital devices for the digital eco-system.
All four charter sponsors, known for leadership in their industries, were attracted to Annenberg's culture of communications, journalism and innovation.
"As the inventor of jeans, the Levi's brand has always been at the forefront of innovation, and we're constantly exploring pioneering ways to engage with our consumers. We're thrilled to be a founding partner of the lab and together create the next social media revolution," commented Robert Hanson, president, global Levi's brand.
Verizon’s SVP product design and development, Shadman Zafar said, "The blending of networks, software and devices is enabling a whole new world of interactivity for our customers. We are confident that the lab's research on this revolution will foster increased creativity and innovation, and infuse high-IQ thinking into the high-IQ networks of the future."
USC Annenberg was founded in 1971 by US Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg with a humanitarian mission: “Every human advancement or reversal can be understood through communication. The right to free communication carries with it the responsibility to respect the dignity of others, and this must be recognized as irreversible.”
It’s a good day when the best and the brightest in academia and major brands join forces. Walter Annenberg can rest easy.