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Design's Role in innovation

Rozina Spinnoy emphasises why design in innovation is vital to creating better solutions at the community level and beyond

Innovation - what does this mean to us in practice?

This got me thinking about the design process, creativity and the role individuals, teams and networks have concerning innovation. By definition we mean ‘doing things differently’ equating with innovation, rather than ‘doing things better’ equating to adaptation. Over the last year I have been looking at the variety of contexts this can cover; from products, organisations, institutions and cities. Also people within organisations, who have an entrepreneurial spirit with being defined as an ‘intrapreneur’ - someone who is an innovator within an organisation. 

At the Belgium Design Council (BDC) and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) Belgium, we looked at the combination of design-led innovation and social innovation/entrepreneurship along with applying ‘design thinking’ methodologies in creating or ‘designing’ our projects and communities, for BIDs Belgium. We did this by placing the customer first and being ‘user centric’, co-creating partnerships with a variety of stakeholders - private companies, public administration, civic organisations - along with being inclusive of citizens and taking a bottom-up approach.

With an educational and professional background stemming from design, it became a positive ‘occupational hazard’ to have this thread of design strategy as the base line. I do believe creativity, and innovation especially, are often team efforts and go hand-in-hand. I believe some of the most profoundly innovative people in history had large groups of people working with them, from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs. No doubt innovating within their own hives of creativity-enabling environments. 

Brussels has become a hive of innovation and creativity over recent years. The rise of grass-roots organisations in the city, are now coming together in various forms. The Civic Innovation Network (CIN) is a Brussels-based lab to foster unforeseen collaborations that can tackle the systemic challenges of the city by connecting people, projects and communities. It was obvious for both the BDC and BIDs Belgium, to contribute and be one of the co-organisers of such a network.

The achievements and successful projects of EBN show the value of collaboration and continuation to innovate. What EBN is to business, CIN can aspire to be for civic grass-roots organisations. Brussels, is a starting block to build upon while looking to other cities within Europe, and perhaps beyond, connecting with multi-level, cross-sector stakeholders.  

The idea is to build collective frameworks on CIN initiatives, gaining formal support and momentum. At CIN we have 'Impact Joint Ventures' or ‘IJV's’. Ventures that address local and global challenges like food surplus, whilst simultaneously managing unused spaces and utilising sustainable transport and delivery systems. 

Another IJV is the ‘Care in the Community’ initiative, looking at a variety of mental health challenges for vulnerable and challenged children. It bridges the creativity and technology skills gap along with a bit of fun, with our ‘Analogue and Digital’ project. Inclusivity and entrepreneurship is vital for our communities and future workforce. 

CIN thrives on the creative opportunities that co-creation and working on crosssector collaborations can bring with such innovating and high-impact projects. I believe this innovative approach is what Brussels and other cities need to further foster and stimulate socio-economic growth across Europe.

If you feel motivated to know more and want to know how you can get involved with some high-impact projects, or wish know more about how you can successfully implement creative ideas within your organisation, don't hesitate to reach out via EBN or the CIN website.

Rozina Spinnoy champions the value of design strategy and innovation, as an approach to improving processes, environments, businesses and communities whilst advocating the benefits of collaboration. She thrives on sharing her creativity and tackling challenging social and political systems and traditions. A passionate entrepreneur, Rozina is the Founder and Director of the Belgium Design Council and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) Belgium, which is a non-profit organisation, that promotes collaboration in communities between private, public and civic society for socioeconomic growth. In her most recent venture she contributed as a coorganiser of the Civic Innovation Network and the Creative Director for Design2Style, a branding and interior design agency. 

Published on 18-07-2017 00:00 by Rozina Spinnoy. 66 page views

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