In 2012, Heather Fraser founded Vuka Innovation. Inspired by the Zulu word that means to reawaken and stir into action, Vuka is dedicated to helping organizations create game-changing ideas and strategies to deliver. We do that while building a sustainable capacity to innovate.

Vuka leverages the Business Design methodology developed over seven years of dedicated research at the Rotman School of Management under Heather’s leadership at Rotman DesignWorks.

Over the past four years, this approach has proven to be a learnable, repeatable innovation discipline. The Vuka team has worked with a broad range of organizations to help set them on exciting new paths toward success.  


HEATHER FRASEr, founder of vuka


In 2005, Heather joined the Rotman School of Management with over 25 years of experience in Business Design and leadership positions at Procter & Gamble, Ogilvy & Mather, and TAXI Advertising & Design. With her reputation for insight and business innovation, Heather co-founded Rotman DesignWorks with Roger Martin in 2005 and served as the Executive Director of DesignWorks through 2012. She has cultivated Business Design as a discipline, delivered graduate student curriculum for 10 years, and led innovation programs to over 4,000 executives in world-class corporations and government agencies.

Heather has a balanced and pragmatic view of the infusion of design principles and practices into business that has been captured in her book. She is passionately committed to integrating the disciplines of business and design, helping organizations realize their innovation potential, and spreading Business Design education and practice globally as an educator, business advisor and keynote speaker.

Heather founded Vuka Innovation to expand this work beyond the academic realm. As the driving force behind Vuka, she ensures that clients and partner teams push their thinking and realize their full capacity for business innovation. She continues to be active in public education as an Adjunct Professor, Researcher and Business Design Expert in residence at the Rotman School of Management.

Published in 2013, Heather’s book, Design Works: How to Tackle your Toughest Innovation Challenges Through Business Design demonstrates how organizations can drive innovation and growth through Business Design. The book presents a pragmatic view of how organizations committed to innovation can infuse design principles and practices into business development and planning. Her book includes inspiring interviews with business leaders, compelling case studies, and a collection of practical tools and tips on how to put Business Design into practice.  


Our Philosophy

We believe innovation matters.

Innovation is essential to competing in a fast-paced global marketplace. Managing the business of today while creating new value for the future is a tough balance. Organizations need practical ways to ignite teams and design a roadmap for future success. 

We believe in the human capacity to innovate.

Inspired by the Zulu word that means 'to awaken and to stir into action,' Vuka's mission is to awaken your capacity to innovate.

We believe Business Design brings together the best of business and design thinking.

Through this approach, you will identify meaningful unmet needs, create new-to-the-world solutions, and devise a strategy to direct you toward your envisioned future.

We believe our role is to build your capacity to innovate.

While tackling your challenges together, we help you build innovation skills through Business Design and embed new ways of working that will make your organization more future ready.


Business Design


Business Design is a discipline that integrates best business practices with design thinking — design-inspired mindsets and methods. The aim is to create new value for all stakeholders, and a distinct strategy for the enterprise to deliver on bold ideas and win in the marketplace. 

By leveraging important design principles and practices, Business Design helps business teams to develop bigger customer-inspired ideas faster and more holistically, define clearer and more competitive strategies for success, and build the alignment needed to get traction in going to market. Practices include cross-disciplinary collaboration, stakeholder need-finding, storytelling, rapid prototyping, co-creation of new value-add offerings and experiences with customers, systems mapping, and learning experiments. 

Teams have found that this approach — anchored in the 3 Gears of Business Design — taps into team wisdom, leads to a clear and ambitious vision for the business and mobilizes teams to deliver.


Gear 1: Empathy & Deep Human Understanding

A deep understanding of who matters to your enterprise and what matters to them reveals fresh, original insights, and opportunities to create new and distinct value.

Gear 2: Concept Visualization

Designing a richer and more compelling human experience creates new value. Iterative prototyping and co-creation helps translate imagined possibilities into tangible products and services that are meaningful to your users and unite all stakeholders. 

Gear 3: Strategy & Activation

Defining the strategy and activation plan to make big ideas valuable to both the market and to the enterprise brings strategic focus to your efforts and investments.