Haiyan Zhang

Microsoft Research

Innovation Director


Haiyan Zhang is a innovation and technology professional, with 18-years of experience in the technology sector. She has worked hands-on in software engineering, user experience, hardware R&D, service design, Cloud platforms, design thinking and blue-sky envisioning. She continues to push on the boundaries where technology can transform people's lives for the better. Haiyan is currently Innovation Director at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK. Inventing cutting-edge technology to enable new play and wellness experiences. She is also an inventor appearing in the BBC documentary, Big Life Fix. Haiyan was formerly Innovation Director at Lift London, a Microsoft Game Studio; Co-Founder and Design Lead for the innovation platform, OpenIDEO. With over 150,000 users worldwide solving challenges for social good and used as the enterprise innovation engine for organizations such as British Airways, Deutsche Bank, Harvard Business School. Working at the world-leading innovation consultancy, IDEO, she has created new technology experiences for community building, entertainment, financial services. She has worked with leading video game makers on research and ideas for new play experiences. Clients have included Mattel, Electronic Arts, HBO, Citibank, France Telecom, Alcatel, Cisco, and AT&T. Haiyan’s work is informed by her previous profession as a software engineer and user interface designer creating applications for the biomedical and data-mining industries. As part of a team of software developers from Excel Tech in Canada, she created an electroencephalograph (EEG) visualization tool for intraoperative monitoring which is currently being used in hospitals across North America. Haiyan has a Master’s degree with Distinction in Interaction Design from the renowned Interaction Design Institute in Ivrea, and has a Bachelor of Computer Science (First-Class Honors) from Monash University, Australia. She has lived and worked in Australia, Toronto, China, Italy, San Francisco and now resides in the UK.

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