Co-creating the future through design-based education in innovation hubs




Design Factory, Challenge-Based Innovation, Design-Based Education, Challenge-Based Learning


Creativity and innovation have become prominent in higher education curricula. Applying a design paradigm has been frequently used to build innovative and creative skills in graduates across different discipline domains. Besides the design approach, another element that is important to increase innovation in organizations and society involves multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral cooperation. This observation triggered the establishment of the Aalto Design Factory in Finland in 2008, establishing an integrative, multidisciplinary education platform for design and experimentation. Offering vision, space, and courses focused on building capabilities to collaborate and innovate, Aalto Design Factory started sharing its reference model with other universities, supporting the establishment of other Design Factories worldwide. In 2022 the Design Factory Global Network (DFGN) included 37 co-creation platforms in 25 countries across the world. Sharing and learning from these experiences has become a crucial resource to develop DFGN operations further. One avenue where this takes place is a yearly meeting between the partners of the DFGN. In order to broaden the discussion beyond current Design Factories, as well as extend considerations from teaching and management to research, the first Design Factory Global Network Research Conference (DFGN.R) was piloted. In October 2022, 68 participants from 11 countries presented 22 studies at the first DFGN.R that took place at NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. This special issue presents five selected papers that were first discussed at the DFGN.R 2022. The studies approach innovation and education from complementary perspectives and methods. Most of the studies have been conducted at one of the Design Factory hubs, showcasing the range of collaborative activities that happen in these hubs to increase innovation capabilities. Taken together, these five papers from three different continents give a glimpse into the activities taking place in the various Design Factories around the world. They explore how new approaches to innovation and creativity in Higher Education can take place, through applying effectuation theory and social learning theory, featuring metaphors such as cooking and sailing to inspire co-creation in action. We hope that these experiences will inspire educators, researchers, students and organizations active in Design Factory’s and similar co-creation platforms, to continue experimenting with the design paradigm, by exploring approaches and skills towards innovation and creativity that are imperative to champion change. 

Author Biographies

Peter Joore, Future Design Factory, NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands; TU Delft, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, The Netherlands

Peter Joore is professor Open Innovation at NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, and researcher at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering of TU Delft. His research focuses on the relationship between new incremental innovations on the one hand, and long-term societal transition processes on the other. He is founding member of the Network of Applied Design Research, a practice oriented research network linking 25 research groups at 14 universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands. 

Tua Björklund, Aalto University Design Factory, Aalto University School of Engineering, Finland

Tua Björklund is an assistant professor of creative practices in engineering at Aalto University and the co-director of Aalto Design Factory. She leads a multidisciplinary research team on designing impact through co-creation, and teaches innovation practices in different degree programs and executive education at Aalto.

Christine Thong, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

Christine Thong is academic director of the Design Factory Melbourne, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia. She is a highly experienced Educator, Researcher, and Facilitator for design innovation methods and interdisciplinary collaboration applicable to complex challenges and various industry sectors. 


Eduardo Zancul, University of São Paulo, Brazil

Eduardo Zancul is an Associate Professor at the Department of Production Engineering of the Polytechnic School at the University of São Paulo in Brazil.  His main research interests include product lifecycle management, advanced manufacturing, and engineering education, with a focus on design education.


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How to Cite

Joore, P., Björklund, T., Thong, C., & Zancul, E. (2022). Co-creating the future through design-based education in innovation hubs. CERN IdeaSquare Journal of Experimental Innovation, 6(2).