In the first week of December, Cairo became the central meeting point for startups from North Africa, the Middle East and beyond as the community came together for the annual Rise Up Summit. On this occasion, the American University in Cairo (AUC) and the HPI School of Design Thinking (HPI D-School) hosted a four-day Global Design Thinking Week initiated and designed by Dr. Claudia Nicolai as a featured bootcamp of Rise Up Summit.
From 2nd to 5th December 24 participants worked in four Design Thinking teams on AUC campus in New Cairo. During four workshop days, the teams addressed a design challenge focusing on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
The project partner Rise Up Summit gave them the task to design new ways to run a completely sustainable event. In the context of a circular approach, the teams had to consider the wishes of the event participants and other stakeholders.
A global initiative
The Global Design Thinking Week is an initiative of the Global Design Thinking Alliance (GDTA), a global platform for the exchange and exploration of best practices in Design Thinking education, training and research. As part of this initiative, an international team of Design Thinking coaches from Canada, Egypt, Germany and Sweden guided the teams in the course of the workshop week.
“With this Global Design Thinking Week, we intensify and extend the cooperation between AUC, HPI and the GDTA”, says Hoda Mostafa, Associate Professor of Practice and Director of the Center for Learning and Teaching at AUC. “Especially on the occasion of AUC’s 100th anniversary, we are happy to use this opportunity to strengthen our Design Thinking activities and design new ways of learning and teaching.”
Creating sustainable business ideas
After four intense workshop days, the Design Thinking teams pitched their ideas on stage at the second day of Rise Up Summit. Rise Up Summit was founded in 2013 and is now the biggest startup event in Africa. For three days around 10.000 thought leaders, tech experts and entrepreneurs gathered in Cairo to share their experiences, support and invest in the Middle East and Africa’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Our Design Thinking teams developed numerous ideas to make businesses more sustainable. One team suggested using big data analysis that is aligned with the SDGs. According to their pitch, businesses should identify SDGs and align them with a long-term strategic plan. They should then classify relevant measurement units for progress and add those metrics into their existing measurement system. This way, they can use data to make decisions oriented at the SDGs and create a sustainable brand identity.
“The findings of this Global Design Thinking Week and the ideas pitched at Rise Up Summit clearly show that human-centered design approaches can help developing solutions matching sustainability and business growth”, Claudia Nicolai, the Academic Director of the HPI D-School reflects. “We are happy about the amazing idea pitches and look forward to continuing the cooperation with RiseUp Summit and the AUC in the future.”
The next Global Design Thinking Week will take place at HPI D-School in Potsdam from 12-18 March 2020. Applications are open until 31 January.
Photos and video: Center for Learning and Teaching at the AUC / Mohammad Saleh