Sustainable innovation – Delft 2010

At the start of this month, Strawberrysoup took part in a trip to Delft University of Technology. We attended a 2 day workshop organised by Ecomind, an organisation that supports sustainable innovation. Our aim for the trip was to find about how Strawberrysoup can offer more sustainable products and services.

Sustainable innovation - Delft 2010Our trip started with an early drive to London where we boarded the train at London St Pancras and in just two hours arrived in Brussels, we then continued to Rotterdam and Delft. The university campus was huge and inspiring; the building we going to be in was the Delft Faculty for Industrial Design Engineering. The atmosphere was energetic and there seemed to be a large focus on sustainability throughout the university.

On arrival, we were met by designers, inventors, marketers and students, who came from the UK, France and the Netherlands, to take part in the workshops. It was interesting to meet such a diverse group of people and to discover who they are and what they do. Many people had created interesting, sustainable inventions. One product that I particularly liked was a new intelligent tyre pump designed by Laurens Drogendijk from Band op Spanning. He has identified that most people do not pump up their tyres and that most don’t event know how. He has created a pump that is intelligent and easy to use in order to promote sustainability and safety.

The workshop kicked off in two parts, one about marketing your sustainable products and the other focused around finding the right sustainable ideas.

Sustainable innovation - Delft 2010I took part in the Marketing session, run by Sara van Aarden, which focused on ‘Social Marketing’ a practice that combines marketing tools with social psychology. This technique has been used to encourage people to alter their behaviour, moving away from things that are bad or harmful to them or others such as smoking, binge drinking and drink driving.

The theory works on the concept that ‘there are no bad people there are only unaware people’ and that ‘if we train people they should choose the right behaviour’. I found this session very interesting and thought it would be a good process to use when designing for socially led clients. We can also use it to encourage our clients to choose the more sustainable options for services such as website hosting or selecting print materials. Find out more here about Social Marketing here – http://www.social-marketing.com/Whatis.html.

Neil took part in the ‘Finding the right sustainable ideas for your successful business’ workshop and commented ‘the session really made me think about how the business could be transformed in stages to become sustainable. Small, identifiable changes help bring large changes over time; its not something that can be rushed.’

Sustainable innovation - Delft 2010The next day’s session, run by Rolf Bossert from Syntens, asked us to focus on our company identifying and matching our needs for knowledge, technology and skills.  This was an interesting session that encouraged you to think in a different way and to consider each area of your company or organisation. After identifying the elements of each area we then had to decide which were the strongest and the weakest. This was a helpful exercise and was great because it could be used by everyone whatever their business.

The 2 days were concluded with a networking lunch, which gave us a final opportunity to get to know and chat with the inspiring people at the workshop before our long journey home. Finally, we had the chance to take a look round the University’s great collection of product design and then headed back for our 10 hour journey back home…