PROJECTS

We’re collating Service Design and Social Innovation projects and case studies from across the Asia-Pacific region. If you have a project or case study you’d like listed feel free to submit a project.

Design For…

design for is a non-profit organisation, funded by Nanyang Technological University’s New Silk Road Grant. It is an open platform for collaborations on social design projects.

In developing a network of collaborators, we aspire to create design solutions for the good of the individual and for a better society. Ultimately, our goal is to achieve holistic solutions for a sustainable world.

The name design for is a catalyst for the possibilities of design with a humanistic view; members of design for intentionally focus on designing for good, for people, and for cultural preservation.

Utilising scholarly research, we advocate cultural understanding and preservation by using design as a dialogue. Through this dialogue, we aim to translate, reinterpret, adapt, and try out new ideas and forms in traditional crafts for contemporary living.

As part of our work with communities, we share cultural information and aim to promote ethical consumerism for sustainable livings.

The concept of design for is built upon models of Asian apprenticeships that are based on the methods of traditional craftsmanship and the adoption of a hands-on, process-driven method. By visiting craft villages and learning from the original artisans themselves, we come to understand their philosophy of life, learn from their techniques, and derive a wealth of knowledge that is slowly fading away today. This leads to a model of research into meaning, conception of designs by making, and fostering human relationships through sharing.

Historically in the Asian cultures, there are strong links between craft, design, and meaning as the basis of the sense of cultural identity: the people live with a respect for nature and an appreciation of tradition. Collaborators in design for see the value in this perspective and seek to apply it to our Southeast Asian region, which is rich in heritage, culture, and craftsmanship.

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Proximity Designs

Proximity Designs is an award-winning, social enterprise based in Yangon, Myanmar that designs, makes, and delivers affordable, income-boosting products and services that complement the entrepreneurial spirit of rural families. They focus on irrigation technology, agricultural knowledge and financial services for small farmers that help open up new economic opportunities. 

Founded in 2004, their products and services have improved the lifestyles, and boosted the incomes of over 484,000 rural households (almost 2.5 million people) across the country, by more than US$231 million. To reach scale and maximise impact, they apply a business model and design thinking to their mission. With user-centered design at their core, they design products and services that are cost-conscious, well-designed, high-quality, aesthetically attractive, convenient and provide a great user experience. By treating farmers as customers, rather then beneficiaries, Proximity is able to achieve large-scale social impact while their aspirational rural customers have the dignity to decide through the market whether they value the products and services. 

For more information on Proximity Designs visit their website here.  

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Mae Fah Lung Foundation 

The Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage (MFLF) is a private non-profit organization established to improve the quality of life of the people in poverty and deprived of opportunities. The Foundation provides the people in the project area with education, proper infrastructure, and legitimate ways to earn their living, while fostering co-existence between man and nature. It also encourages the conservation of Lanna and tribal arts, traditions and cultures.

One area of focus for The Mae Fah Luang Foundation is their alternative development (AD) programme. AD programs have helped villagers in remote areas, particularly ethnic minorities, reduce or quit their dependence on illicit crops and turn toward sustainable farming, while maintaining, or even improving, their income, and helping to reforest denuded mountainsides from their slash and burn cultivation.

By working with and alongside villagers, The Mae Fah Luang Foundation are discovering the importance of empowering locals to build livelihoods that generate income and a healthier environment for their communities.  

The problems faced by the villagers of hills of Doi Tung are not unlike those of El Meta in central Colombia which, in 2007, was one of Colombia’s top five municipalities with the largest coca cultivation area and potential cocaine production. A recent visit of Colombian officials to Doi Tung has proven to be a source of inspiration and renewed thinking surrounding how best to work with communities beset with problems of illicit drug crops.

See here for more information on the The Mae Fah Luang Foundation AD program in Doi Tung.

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Scope Group

Headquartered in Malaysia since 2007, Scope Group’s mission is to create impact by design through harnessing the power of social innovation and partnerships for social good and leveraging technology and cross-sector collaborations to deliver.

Scope Group’s expertise lies in supporting the “people” element of change and impact creation: engaging stakeholders, facilitating processes, coaching, leading and challenging the change process within organisations big and small. This often involves working in and between sectors to craft strategies, form synergy partnerships, and implement projects.

In 2015 and 2016, Scope Group managed an ASEAN-wide social innovation competition in 10 countries, with 1,200 social innovators. Scope Group worked with over 30 impact partners including corporations, governments, multilateral agencies and philanthropic organisations interested in investing in innovations for sustainable communities and resilient nations.

The ASEAN Impact Challenge winners for 2016 were Siam Organic, who created an organic rice product, which benefits local farmers and the environment, and water filtration solutions by Water Roam, which are designed to bring about the quickest access to clean drinking water at disaster-hit locations, and help to promote social change in rural development areas.

Scope Group also runs Impact Hub KL, a community and creative space for those who want to join together to make a difference. Their diverse community consists of impact driven individuals and organisations which include entrepreneurs, social businesses, freelancers, corporates, start-ups, creatives and many more.

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Colab Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland

Colab are launching a Social Innovation Hub in 2017. The hub will provide a way to connect and awhi the network of community members, practitioners and organisations surrounding the course. It will provide a foundation for research and related events in the community and be a place to publish stories, case studies, news in the area and inform each other about upcoming events. We’d love to be able to profile local stories and mahi and we have already gathered material as part of a video based case study research project some of you have participated in this year. If any of you would like to share your work, ideas and dreams we have a call out for blog posts, video excerpts and articles and will start feeding these in to the Hub early in 2017.

One of the Hub’s first public events will be one day symposium on Impact Evaluation to be held on May 19th. This will be an opportunity to explore issues and emerging practice around how we design for, account for, and capture impact and value of social innovation initiatives and efforts.

Learn Education

Bangkok, Thailand

One of the biggest problems facing Thai education is student drop-out rates. Low national examination (the O-Net) scores has caused many students to drop out of school every year, halting their education short and cutting access to important life opportunities. Between 2008-2013, more than 170,000 Thai students dropped out of school.

In addition, there is an alarming lack of qualified K-12 teachers in the system. Many teachers do not have the requisite background and preparation to deliver quality instruction in the subjects they currently teach. Moreover, they are overburdened with administrative duties and other responsibilities that pull them away from their actual focus: to teach.

These challenges inspired the founding team of Learn Education. With great determination to fight for better education for all, Learn Education provides a solution that ambitiously tackle the very heart of the issue in an innovative and sustainable way.

Having achieved traction in over a hundred schools in Thailand, Learn Education’s goal is to reach 3,000 schools in the next five years, with plans to expand impact to the rest of Asia.

By identifying leverage points in Thai education, Learn Education believes that technology with the appropriate learning content, supportive software and, most importantly, the right implementation process, can improve learning and teaching experiences for all.

InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

InSTEDD designs and uses open source technology tools to help partners enhance collaboration and improve information flow to better deliver critical services to vulnerable populations. They envision a world where communities everywhere design and use technology to continuously improve their health, safety and development. InSTEDD’s mission is to improve global health, safety and sustainable development through:
• Building Capacity within communities to foster a local culture of innovation
• Creating Collaboration Technologies for social good
• Collaborating with End Users through a bottom up design and development process
• Ensuring Usefulness and Impact through research and evaluation

In 2008, InSTEDD launched the first iLab located in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with the goal of building technological capacity for addressing health, safety and sustainable development issues in the Mekong Basin.

At the InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia, solutions are developed and evolved in the field. The iLab team designs and uses context-appropriate tools to help their partners overcome obstacles that hinder collaboration, allowing them to work more effectively to improve health, safety and development. They work side-by-side with their partners in their communities throughout the process of design, implementation and evaluation.

The InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia team adapts existing tools to local contexts, provides training and support, and evaluates outcomes in a cycle of continuous improvement. By building local capacity, they help to ensure that the systems created are more relevant than when introduced by outsiders, and that necessary innovation will continue beyond the life of a single project. To learn more about the iLab Southeast Asia, please visit their website here: www.ilabsoutheastasia.org

Solo Kota Kita

Indonesia

Solo Kota Kita (Solo Our City) is a bottom-up initiative which originated from a pilot-study conducted in 2009 by architecture students of a local university in Surakarta (Solo). The goal of the project is to raise awareness among citizens about issues in their own neighbourhood in order for them to have a proper voice in the city’s participatory budgeting (musrenbang).

This is accomplished by sending out community facilitors (along with residents) to collect and share data about their neighbourhoods. Both by traditional methods such as pen and paper as well as more modern methods such as an sms-tool which allows residents to text data to the project team directly. This data then is compiled in so-called ‘mini-atlases’, which can then be used by residents during the musrenbang meetings with the local government so that they can have insight into the issues and the development in their own neighbourhoods

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Living lab for child-raising mothers by Concent, Inc.

Tokyo, Japan

Concent, Inc. is a design firm with strengths in editorial design, web design and service design. They help their clients resolve communication design and service design problems, utilizing tools from strategic design, interaction design and UI development. Their design approach is based on Human Centered Design process and Creating Shared Value (CSV) that involve a variety of stakeholders such as citizens, companies, creators and governments.

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Fujinomiya: Bridging Communities, Sharing Our Memories

Fujinomiya, Tokyo, Japan

What kind of social infrastructure is necessary for creating a society where people with dementia can live a healthy and positive life?

What type of new businesses could we create by focusing on the needs and wants of people with dementia?

What can we do to change business culture that could connect better with the rest of the society?

How and where should we start to build and enhance relations with our stakeholders in future markets?

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Space Between – Massey University

Wellington, New Zealand

Space Between is a new social enterprise for fashion which is is a thoughtful new way to design, make and use locally-produced fashion. Situated in Massey University’s School of Design, it is about exploring alternatives to mass-produced high-waste clothing, and creating ethical business opportunities for new designers.

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VEIL – Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab

Melbourne, Australia

The Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL) seeks to identify and promote emerging technical, social and organisational innovations that could form part of future sustainable systems. VEIL creates conditions to research, envision, innovate, create and test, ideas and concepts for sustainable, desirable and realisable products, services, built environments and lifestyles.

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Healthabitat

Sydney, Australia

Healthhabitat is an Australian company with the goal of improving the health of disadvantaged people, particularly children, by improving their housing and the condition of the living environment.

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Object: Australian Centre for Design

Sydney, Australia

Object: Australian Centre for Design is Australia’s leading centre for contemporary design and play a critical role in building a significant design culture for the country. They nurture a nation of innovative thinkers and we inspire audiences to use design in their lives.Read More …

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Designing Out Crime research centre (DOC)

Sydney, Australia

The Designing Out Crime research centre (DOC) was founded by the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), following a competitive tender process by the NSW Department of Attorney General & Justice (DAGJ).

DOC applies a ‘Design Thinking’ approach to find solutions to problems that have proved impossible to solve. Read More …

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Enspiral

Wellington, New Zealand

Enspiral is a network of professionals who cooperate to guarantee they do meaningful work. Each of their ventures tells a story of collaboration sparked from like minded people coming together. Their strategy, structure, funding model (a portion of profits goes towards projects for social impact) and the products and services that they develop, has been designed to ensure positive social outcomes. 

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Critical Pixels Design Ltd.

Auckland, New Zealand

Critical Pixels Design Ltd. is a company focused on using open source solutions to meet the needs of local communities, through design and 3D Printing. The aim is to have a process in design work that encourages starting from scratch in order to best match a creative need to a creative solution. Their designs are dynamic, future thinking and empowering.

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The Lien Centre for Social Innovation

Singapore

The Lien Centre for Social Innovation is a partnership between the Lien Foundation and Singapore Management University (SMU), established in 2006 to advance the thinking and capability of the non-profit sector. Based in Singapore, the Lien Centre seeks to enable global thinking and the dissemination of best practices related to social innovation in Singapore and beyond. Read More …

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DESIS-lab Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia

DESIS-lab Melbourne is a space to talk, share ideas, approaches and opportunities. This enables to think differently, be inspired, be excited and hopefully tackle the various ‘wicked problems’ we encounter in work/lives in a more effective way.

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Zeroth Labs

Singapore

Bernise Ang is co-founder and Executive Director of Zeroth Labs, an experimental research lab and consultancy which uncovers behavioural insights and applies them to public policy issues. They do this by blending methods from the social sciences, management strategy and the startup world to work with public sector agencies.

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Ground Up Initiative

Singapore

GUI – the Ground-Up Initiative, is a non-profit organisation located in Singapore. It began as a small group of people bound by the desire to be the change that they want to create. The aim is to search for answers in how people can live within urban landscapes and adopt a social and ecological harmony with the Earth.

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Neighbour Program

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Neighbour Program dialogues between research and practice project, aimed to reconnect art and design institutions acting within the Southeast Asian region. The intention is to include forming mutual networks to organize exchange programs and creating cultural collisions.

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Tandemic

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tandemic is a social enterprise focused on helping the world progress through creativity and innovation. Our programmes include Makeweekend, which brings people together to build solutions to tough challenges like improving education and disaster relief, Do Something Good, Malaysia’s largest volunteering platform.

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COLOURS collectively ours

Singapore

The company name COLOURS is actually a combination of two words “Collectively Ours”. As implied by the name, their envision design practice to not only involve but empower the community and raise the sense of ownership. They work with clients to facilitate community dialogues that produce user-centric design. The mission is to design urban spaces through community participation, based on our core values of diversity, flexibility and empowerment.

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design for – Nanyang Technological University

Singapore

design for is a non-profit organisation, founded by Professor Nanci Takeyama from Nanyang Technological University. It is an open platform for collaborations on social design projects. The name ‘design for’ is a catalyst for the possibilities of design with a humanistic view. The members of ‘design for’ intentionally focus on designing for good, for people, and for cultural preservation.

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frog design

Singapore & Shanghai, China

frog design is a global product strategy and design firm. We identify business opportunities, create great products, and design meaningful experiences to grow brands and delight customers. There are more than 600 strategists, researchers, designers, and technologists who consult and partner with clients across industries. Headquartered in San Francisco, we have offices in Amsterdam, Austin, Boston, Milan, Munich, New York, Seattle, Shanghai, and Singapore.

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Re:public

Tokyo, Japan

Re:public Inc., is not just a design firm nor a research agency, but a Think & Do tank specialized in architecting innovation ecosystems in an organization, a society, or a nation. When problems are becoming increasingly complex beyond the control of a single entity, we take a systemic, human-centered approach to understand the issues and build innovation capacity to act.

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i.club

Kesennuma, Japan & Aizu, Japan

i.club is an after-school program for high-school students. i.club was initiated as a form of experimental and participatory social innovation in Kesennuma, a small fishing town devastated by the March 2011 disaster.

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Studio L

Osaka, Japan & Yamagata, Japan

Studio L undertakes approximately 80 design projects aimed at rejuvenating communities ranging from villages of just a few dozen residents and regional cities to some of the biggest commercial facilities in Japan. In contrast to other approaches that aims to reverse the population exodus or revive local economy, the co-founder Yamazaki tackles these issues through ‘community design’

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Design for Disasters

Bangkok, Thailand

Design for Disasters (D4D) was established in 2010. It consists of young designers, artists, and academics. Public participation is also welcome in sharing ideas and find long-term solutions for everyone to be prepared for natural disasters, particularly those resulting from extreme weather, which may attack the city any moment.

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Thailand Creative & Design Centre (TCDC)

Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC) was established in 2004 in Bangkok to connect and promote interaction among creativity, skill, cultural asset and business conducive to creating quality products and services that meet the global market demand. TCDC pushed forward the development of creative economy in 2008 to promote creative entrepreneurs as the key element of Thai economic driving force. Also, TCDC has built a knowledge management network through 14 mini TCDCs nationwide and opened TCDC Chiang Mai in 2013 as a center for exchanging creative ideas and readying regional entrepreneurs to keep up with ever-changing global demand.Read More …

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Sustainable Living Lab (SL2)

Singapore

Sustainable Living Lab (SL2) is a social innovation lab and makerspace. The work lies at the intersection of social innovation, sustainability and technology. Creating nurturing environments, organizing programs and rally people around the idea of Purposeful Making. 

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The Thought Collective

Singapore

The Thought Collective shares the common purpose of building up Singapore’s social and emotional capital. Its group of five social enterprises offer new possibilities in the way people think, live and serve as a community.

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The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI)

Adelaide, Australia

The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) exists to help find new ways of tackling big, persistent social problems like child abuse and neglect, Indigenous disadvantage, and the challenges of ageing and caring. They use the best of design, social science and business thinking to develop new programs in the community, and to build the innovation capability of the social sector.

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The 5000+ Project

Adelaide, Australia

The Australian Government in partnership with IDCSA (Integrated Design Commission of South Australia) funded The 5000+ project through an integrated design strategy for inner Adelaide. The aim is to be a national model for designing, planning and building Australian communities in a more unified way for better living.

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Centre for Social Impact

Sydney, Australia

The Centre for Social Impact (CSI) is described as an “organization of system thinkers and creative innovators”. It creates positive, meaningful and sustainable systems change for the benefit of the Australian community and particularly for those disadvantaged as a result of complex, long-term systemic issues. The CSI takes a holistic, adaptive and systems-led approach to creating sustained and meaningful social change.

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Tasman Munro Design

Sydney, Australia

Tasman Munro is a Sydney based designer who specialises in Social Design. The ‘Intensive Learning Centre for Maximum Security Prison‘ is a collaborative design project between Designing Out Crime (DOC) and Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) to design and construct a therapeutic learning centre within the context of a maximum security prison.

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The Social Studio

Melbourne, Australia

The Social Studio is a dynamic space where clothing is created from recycled and excess manufacturing materials, who empowers young people from refugee communities in Melbourne to achieve their ambitions through work experience and training in clothing design, production, retail and hospitality.

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Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB)

Melbourne, Australia

Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB) is a not-for-profit organisation to design systemic change through humanitarian engineering. Their main aims are to work in partnership to address a lack of access to basic human needs such as clean water, sanitation and hygiene, energy, basic infrastructure, waste systems, information communication technology and engineering education.

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iDE InCompass – Human Centered Innovation lab

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

inCompass is a non-profit consulting practice within iDE, based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. inCompass is the first innovation lab of its kind in Asia, with a mission to bring the best practices in innovation to serve the poor trhough Human Centered Design approach. 

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InSTEDD’s Innovation Labs

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

InSTEDD’s (Innovative Support to Emergencies Diseases and Disasters) Innovation Labs undertakes innovation, research and consultancy with a focus on collaborative technologies for social good. Each iLab promotes cross-sector collaborations that bring people together to explore solutions to regional health, safety and development problems.

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Carpets for Communities

Mitpheap Village, Cambodia & Mandurah, Australia

Carpets for Communities is a non-profit social enterprise which aims to break the cycle of poverty through supporting education and sustainable development solutions. The project aims to offer immediate intervention, followed by a transition to a more sustainable solution through various micro businesses.

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Kamworks

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Kamworks is a social enterprise. Their vision is not only to develop new products in Cambodia, but also to assemble locally, thereby bringing technology, jobs and spare parts to the country. This way, they truly help to build a solar market.

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Peace Innovation Lab

Nepal

Rural Innovation Lab set up a technology lab in Tansen, Palpa. The lab is equipped with basic prototyping tools and other relevant resources to enable community members (and entrepreneurs) to design low cost technology solutions that directly increase the impact of their enterprises.

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Empower Lanka

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Empower Lanka, is a youth led social enterprise that aims to literally empower Sri Lanka with electricity which nearly 20% of the population has no access to. Part of the Global Changemaker, the tag line is “Powering Sri Lanka, One Village at a Time” and hopes to achieve the ultimate goal of eradicating poverty through the spread of electricity while promoting renewable energy among the community.

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BRAC Philippines

Dhaka, Bangladesh & Cotabato City, Philippines

BRAC is a development organisation dedicated to alleviate poverty by empowering under-resourced people, and helping them to bring about positive changes in their lives by creating opportunities. Their priorities focus on women, health and education, farmers through empowerment and inclusive financial services and self-sustaining solutions. BRAC’s main strength is thinking local, acting global.

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Financial Solutions for Post-Disaster Communities

Philippines

IDEO.org is the non-profit arm of design firm IDEO, working with a human centered design approach to shape products, processes and business systems. Their ‘Financial Solutions for Post-Disaster Communities‘ was initiated six months after the devastating Typhoon Yolanda. IDEO.org partnered with Mercy CorpsBanKO, and CauseLabs to explore how to help communities in the Philippines rebuild their financial lives through the use of mobile banking tools. They are continuing to design new financial products to support the financial security for the future.

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Lifehack HQ

New Zealand

Lifehack works at the frontline of catalysing meaningful action to improve youth wellbeing in Aotearoa New Zealand. They represent a new way of working by creating a Social Innovation Lab which is constantly designing, prototyping, implementing and iterating interventions to find the highest impact approaches to address well-being.

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DESIAP PARTNERS

Funded by

Arts & Humanities Research Council

Coordinated by

Northumbria University Newcastle

Coordinated by

RMIT Design Research Institute