As part of its mission to evolve into a knowledge economy, the Belgian City of Genk, together with the Province of Limburg and the city’s Media and Design Academy worked with Experientia to define the vision for a future design centre that could stimulate and support creativity and innovation within companies, cultural organisations and social institutions.
Experientia started with benchmarking and interviews aimed at understanding the needs of the region and the people who live and work there, using these as a basis for the six guiding principles of their vision development for the design centre: project based activities, thematic structure, multidisciplinary approach, radical choice for the end-user, company-focused commitment and research based analysis. The core objective of the Transformation Factory is to bring about concrete social and economic change in the region through the application of research and design in the broadest sense.
The realisation of this project is underway, and has been stimulated by the recent establishment of the Humin programme, which aims to translate user understanding into tangible, bottom line benefits for business. Experientia (in collaboration with Richard Eisermann of Prospect and Tjeu Arits of Arits Consulting) worked intensively with the Cities of Genk and Kortrijk, Belgium, to set out the project vision for Humin and prepare all the application documents in order to gain funding from the Flemish Government/European Regional Development Fund. It is now a Flemish Government design innovation project, aimed at stimulating innovation with SME’s through user-centred design.
The Belgian Province of Limburg, like many other places, is under pressure to evolve towards a knowledge economy. Experientia worked with the Belgian City of Genk, the Belgian Province of Limburg and the city’s Media & Design Academy (M&DA) to help them to define a future design centre that will stimulate and support creativity and innovation within companies, cultural organisations and social institutions.
Called the Transformation Factory, to indicate the concrete results and change it will bring about, the design centre will be located at C-Mine, a former coal mining site that is being transformed into a hub for creative institutions (such as the Media & Design Academy) and innovative companies (Jaga).
The mission of the Transformation Factory (TF) is to be a dynamic structure of the highest international level that develops scalable and multidisciplinary design innovation projects for (clusters of) regional companies and public organisations, to generate diversification and renewal within product and service development.
The core activities of the TF will be experience prototyping, mentoring and hosting a creative incubator. The TF is targeted at small and medium sized companies, government and semi-public organisations, schools and universities and professional designers.
Stakeholders and end-users were actively involved during both the research phase and the vision and concept development phase, which included:
Six criteria were devised, for eligibility to activate under the auspices of the TF. Activities must be: project based, thematic, multidisciplinary, a radical choice for the end-user, company focused, and research based.
The TF is currently in development. Another Experientia project that involved the City of Genk, together with the City of Kortrijk, Humin, also focused on innovation for SME’s and start-ups. This project will provide vital momentum and promotion for the TF. Humin is a programme developed for Flemish SMEs and start-ups that creates competitive advantage through people-centred innovation. It is now a Flemish Government design innovation project, aimed at stimulating innovation with SME’s through user-centred design.
Experientia (in collaboration with Richard Eisermann of Prospect and Tjeu Arits of Arits Consulting) worked intensively with the City of Genk, Belgium, to set out the project vision and prepare all the application documents in order to gain funding from the Flemish Government and the European Regional Development Fund. The project successfully gained €1.4 million in funding and was officially launched in May 2009 by the Flemish Minister of Economy, a high level endorsement of this exciting innovation programme.
Humin aims to understand the people who use an organisation’s products and services, and using design methods, to translate these insights into tangible, bottom line benefits for business. The funding gained will help to connect businesses and designers, providing SMEs with innovation tools and training through workshops, interventions and coaching.
Design and user research was the founding basis for the vision of the Transformation Factory. The needs of the region and the people who live and work there came first in the vision development and also in the themes around which the TF will end up working. The Transformation Factory will create economic and social value for companies, government entities, semi-public organisations, educational institutions, and designers in Limburg and surrounding regions. It will be a high level centre that is strongly focused on the characteristics, needs and future development of the region, as they have emerged from our research.