Bringing Innovation to Life: Future Design Day at Tech Futures Lab

Just two years ago Techweek was solely an Auckland wide festival with 55 events and 10,000 attendees. In 2017 Techweek went nationwide, including 287 events in 24 locations and attracting more than 20,000 attendees. This year, featuring the theme ‘innovation that’s good for the world’, Techweek is bigger than ever.

Last Saturday 19th May, Techweek ‘18 kicked off around the country, including Tech Futures Lab's Future Design Day event. Bright and early a diverse group of people from all backgrounds gathered at 22 McColl Street to explore new ideas and gain a greater sense of how we can solve problems in our rapidly changing world.

Facilitators Matt Sorkin and Rich Rowley structured the day around 'design thinking', which describes creative strategies initially used in the process of designing, but has now been adopted by businesses such as Google, as well as startups looking to find successful, sustainable solutions - fast.

After a mind-bending game involving balls, buckets and a challenge to think outside the box, the group heard from a select group of experts from four different sectors. We welcomed Christelle Blanchet-Aissaoui as our entertainment expert, Paul Brown as our non-profit expert, Chris Stevens from the healthcare industry and Mitchell Pham as our finance expert. Each of the four offered background information and their unique perspective on their sector. Following this, the group was split into eight teams, given one of the four sectors and a number of resources, and then guided through a series of challenges and activities.

Throughout the day, the groups explored the challenges facing the different sectors, came up with different ideas and possible solutions, tested these ideas, sought feedback, reiterated their ideas and built prototypes. Concluding a very full day of activity, each team pitched their final idea to the entire group.

We heard ideas about improving trust with banks through enhancing user experience, providing tailored and automated financial advice, using Artificial Intelligence to have a customised treatment plan, 'rebellious' search engines to curate content, how to provide millennials greater opportunities to donate to a cause, and 'Google for Good'.

It’s a testimony of humanity that you can put 30 people in a room, give them a problem to solve, and by the end of the day they will have a testable prototype ready to go. Our focus was to give attendees the chance to expand their mindset and understand how they can find creative, actionable solutions to wicked problems they may encounter in their industry or career, and they definitely surpassed our expectations.

Check out the video to hear more from Matt and Rich:

Tech Futures Lab was built on the understanding that to thrive today we need to invest in lifelong learning, open our eyes to how the world is changing, and make brave but informed decisions to create, invent and innovate.

We bring innovation to New Zealand business professionals through our core programmes, primarily our contemporary Master's degree - our next intake is July, come on in for coffee and a chat to find out more.


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Tech Futures Lab is an education facility of The Mind Lab, a NZQA registered Tertiary Education Organisation under the provisions of the Education Act 1989. Candidates who are studying on a programme delivered by Tech Futures Lab are enrolled with The Mind Lab.

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