Another year passed and we are already nearly into the end of January 2017. So, what have we been up to since we last communicated with you?

The BDC Innovation Lab, has been collating a variety of information, research and indeed networking with industry professionals, researchers, educators, innovators, public authorities and citizens. Based on our values of firmly believing in the new sharing and circular economy and the horizontal approach of forging public, private and citizen engagements and partnerships.

With this in mind and being based here in Brussels, we have had the pleasure of being invited to many conferences and events over the latter part of 2016. Attending many of the EU conferences and high level Summits, from ERRIN’s EU Design Days, BEDA Insight Forum, Enterprising Women in Tech, EU Smart Health, EU-InnovatE, EU ‘Inclusive’ Smart Cities. Along with some conferences abroad from the World Towns Leadership Summit in Edinburgh, to the Design For Europe conference in beautiful Tallinn, Estonia. With this in mind, I’m sure not all have been mentioned, as another comes to mind relating to how new species of trees would impact the environment with the EU Forestry conference in December.It has been an incredible overview from the Design industry, Social Innovation, Health, Environment to Technology.


With each conference, I realised how indirectly or indeed directly, the vital role that Design Thinking processes orDesign-led innovation had to play within each industry and sector. The sharing of best practices from European projects from country to country, with taking key learnings and participating in workshops to create solutions with key stakeholders were showcased in some of these. The role that fast moving technological advances have to play in each sector and an all inclusive, sustainable integrated approach is necessary and a key to success. Along with the role that education has to play in this is crucial. Moving from traditional ways of ‘old school’ to the future of work. EU Smart Health, touched on the role of the patient and the doctor and how this has changed dramatically, with the patients now becoming ‘Dr Google’! Also, how the learning of the language of Latin for students, which would aid them for the medical terminology, is changing to the necessity to learn and be aware of the ‘language’ of technology. With the primary message of this conference, as being the ‘need to connect to the patient’ from the Doctors to the Pharma companies and Industry as a whole.

Looking at Social Innovation and how ‘Transforming Europe through Citizen Innovation & Sustainable Entrepreneurship’ at the EU-InnovatE final conference. An inspiring conference, listening to some of the amazing grass roots initiatives across Europe, looking at sustainable living in Europe by the year 2050. Creative thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship all rolled into one. Again some amazing speakers ranging from experienced entrepreneurs and philanthropists to some of the young new aspiring entrepreneurs who want to help create better communities, mixed with Senior EU policy analysts.

The key messages that I took way from all of these conferences was this : it was the clear desire to ‘connect’. Whether it be withthe ‘patient’, ‘designer’, or ‘citizen’, etc., – this was clear to me. Going back to basics and being ‘user centric’. As one speaker did for a client, from the Royal College of Art in London, testing – by literally walking into the steps of the user in order to test every step of the process. Being aware of the different perspectives, trying, testing and trying again – until we get it ‘right’ or somewhere that seems comfortably close to the desired result. It seems that in this fast moving world of digitalisation and of ‘too much information’ it seems to easy to forget or skips some steps of the process.

I also found there is a sense and need to create and build on our communities again, from the EU ‘Inclusive’ Smart Cities conference. Connecting with the environment and it’s citizens. A ‘holistic’ approach with connecting and communicating with each other again is required in order to create and build resilient, sustainable and inclusive cities. Thinking ofSmart Citizens, that in turn will create these Smart Cities.

I’ve always been proud that the BDC has been a grass roots organisation. Overall I/we see this bottom-up approach gains momentum, with the some of the exciting entrepreneurs, innovators and active citizens, in and around Belgium and throughout Europe. People coming together from a variety of sectors, social and economic backgrounds, diverse individuals that have the burning desire to contribute to society. These organisations ands individuals are organically drawn together like magnets. Open to workingtogether, co-creating and learning to evolve and manage the change and innovation together.

It is essential, in order to create an impact, we learn to manage and educate the process of innovation and change. The ‘old school’ way of thinking, still practiced within many organisations, public authorities and Governments, has to be open to work ‘horizontally’ and co-create and support with being open to ‘public, private and civic’ partnerships and engagement. Whilst emphasising the importance of evolving and to better ‘design’ their organisations from ‘inside and out’, to create environments where people can thrive and not be afraid to push the boundaries to evolve and experiment with new ideas – to innovate.

If there is one message I take away from all of these sessions/conference/summits, it is the intrinsic value and importances of communication, connecting and taking’human centred’approach…whether you’re a Designer, Entrepreneur, Social Innovator..or a Doctor.

If you wish to discuss or know more about any of the above, please reach out – via email or telephone.


Article written by : Rozina Spinnoy



BDC Innovation Lab – ‘Human’ Centred Design

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