Service Innovation

Hertfordshire Service Innovation Programme: designed by global experts

Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is proud to pilot the first Service Innovation Programme, harnessing the world-class expertise of Estu and Royal College of Art (RCA) to deliver service innovation, better customer experience and improved value for Hertfordshire businesses. Watch this video to find out more about this pioneering programme:

On behalf of Hertfordshire LEP, Estu and its partner, the Royal College of Art (RCA) are delivering an exclusive executive programme for the first time for Hertfordshire businesses. Over two weeks (Foundation) or eight weeks (Practitioner) Hertfordshire Service Innovation Programme , participants will learn to apply customer centric design principles to their business.

Download the Hertfordshire Service Innovation Programme Brochure

Meet our Partners

Estu is a leadership and development business which delivers enhanced business growth for clients. The team has delivered large-scale business growth programmes in the private sector and for central and regional government.

RCA is the no. 1 ranked university worldwide for design teaching. Its chancellor is Sir Jony Ive (the former Chief Design Officer at Apple responsible for the design of the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad and the Apple stores). The previous chancellor was RCA design graduate Sir James Dyson.

Find out more about RCA business

Together they have developed a structured learning programme, enabling cohorts of Hertfordshire SMEs to develop plans they can action to accelerate growth. Hertfordshire Service Innovation Programme practitioners will also interact with key institutions in Hertfordshire to develop activities that drive local economic activity and employment.

Hertfordshire LEP has funded this pilot for 70 local businesses to participate in the programme and receive follow up support.

With exciting sector developments and market opportunities in Hertfordshire, this programme, integrated with other local business support, will support high growth potential businesses to deliver better products and services, improved customer experience and increased sales.

"As Hertfordshire moves out of the acute recovery phase from COVID, supporting our high-growth businesses will be key to future economic activity and productivity. The LEP’s Enterprise and Innovation Strategy focuses on the breadth of enterprise and innovation across 60,000 businesses, offering particular opportunities for high value and ‘additional’ growth which will equip Hertfordshire to compete internationally as well as nationally. This programme is a prime example of that innovative approach being developed by the LEP in partnership with prestigious organisations."

Nitin Dahad
Hertfordshire LEP Board Member and Chair Enterprise and Innovation Board

How you learn:

For both the Foundation and the Practitioner Programme, learning will take place online with a rich virtual learning environment, live real time and interactive presentations that will be recorded for participants, online workshops in breakout rooms as participants undertake project work and an experiential project brief that enables participants to apply their learning to a real life project. The foundation programme has 4 x 2.5 hour sessions and the practitioner programme has 10 x 2.5 hour sessions. These are complemented by additional project group activities to reinforce the learning from the taught sessions, and to help participants apply this learning to their own business challenges.

Both programmes include:

  • A virtual learning environment with project activities, interactive learning exercises, online lectures and a variety of resources including templates, videos, case studies, online forums to engage with other participants
  • Live and interactive presentations from leading academics and industry disruptors, including a series of practical exercises
  • Group project assignments using briefs developed with participants and aligned with their organisational needs
  • Parallel activities and resources to enable participants to apply their learning to individual projects that represent the specific needs of their organisations
  • Design ‘sprints’ and creative workshops
  • Small group tutorials with expert practitioners and academics
  • A final review of project presentations by a panel of experts
  • Participants will have the opportunity for a post course one-to-one session with the course leader

Programme overview:


The Foundation programme is run over two weeks and comprises 4 sessions. It encompasses gaining user insight, human-centred research methods, design thinking, visualisation and systems thinking, prototyping, organisational alignment, business case development and commercialisation.

Module 1: Introduction to Service Innovation and its impact

Module 2: Discovery

Module 3: Definition and Design

Module 4: Concept Delivery and Measuring Success


The practitioner programme will be 10 sessions. Each session will be of a maximum of 2.5 hours. Estu and the RCA will work closely to ensure that the programme meets the needs of participants.

As part of the pre-course questionnaire, we will ask participants to describe a key opportunity or problems that they want to tackle. Based on this the team will develop and introduce a number of tailored group project briefs that will be used to enable participants to practice applying the knowledge gained and then, in parallel, consider how it can be exploited for their own specific business or organisational opportunity or challenge.

The structured programme:

  • Introducing service innovation principles and examples of the impact of innovative services in industry and the public sector
  • How design thinking, service design and open innovation combine with lean start-up and business model innovation to create the service innovation process
  • Introduction to on-line tools – white boards, digital post-its and social media we will use during the course

  • Systems thinking and service design - defining a business and service challenge and the opportunity to bring service innovation to life in the context of the new normal.
  • Identifying the compelling needs of key stakeholders in the systems and applying both human-centred, experiential and data led research methods including design for inclusivity and diversity

  • Systems mapping and optimisation – understanding the end-to-end customer / user experiences, the technological and operational systems that create those experiences and map where and how value is created, and where it is extracted
  • Exploration of new digital technologies, such as AI, Robotics, Machine Learning, Data Science, IoT and wearables, Blockchain, Smart Materials etc, are enabling new landscapes in smart services and customer experiences

  • Bringing concepts to life, storyboarding, sketching, role play and mock ups to visualize and prototype ideas and be ready to test with ourselves and end user
  • Examining concepts against the business viability, technological and operational feasibility and market desirability to select concepts for further development

  • Value chain analysis, assessing different business models and the implications in terms of risk, return and time to value – products, services, product/service systems, platforms
  • Prototyping, developing and presenting the value proposition to different stakeholders in the value chain

  • Individual Team Tutorials to refine the service proposition, the emerging value proposition and build an integrated proposition that is compelling in the way it addresses the opportunity, is technically feasible and commercially viable

  • Developing an upstream and downstream partner ecosystem that can enhance the value of your offering (upstream) as well as enable you to reach markets (downstream) you otherwise couldn’t serve

  • Incubation, accelerators, corporate venture capital and how to enable a more open and collaborative innovation ecosystem

  • Online facilitated workshop to help each project team apply the learning from the course to their project, as well as develop a personal innovation plan for their organisation

  • Presenting the integrated proposition to a panel of innovators and project sponsors followed by networking with leading designers, industry experts, entrepreneurs and sponsors

The programme has been created by and delivered by Estu and its partner, the RCA. Several of the sessions will include expert masterclasses by innovation leaders from international companies such as McKinsey and Lenovo, as well as organisations such as Transport for London.

Tutorials and mentoring of projects

Sessions 6 and 9 will be small group tutorials with expert practitioners and the Course Director to help teams apply the learning to their projects more effectively.

For further information contact:

Hertfordshire Service Innovation Programme with Hertfordshire LEP