Qatar Social Innovation Bootcamps
– Amin N Matni, Project Manager, Qatar Foundation Center of Design Innovation
The RCA’s Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design partnered with Hamad bin Khalifa University in Doha, Qatar, to deliver two interdisciplinary Social Innovation Bootcamps in 2014 for students drawn from faculties as diverse as journalism, art and design, engineering, medicine and business.
Led by the Centre’s Deputy Director, Rama Gheerawo, these immersive week-long experiences provided an initiation into social innovation methods and practice, and gave students the opportunity to learn people-centred innovation methods to address specific social challenges around migrant worker recruitment. Modules balanced classroom learning and experiential exercises, site visits and co-creation sessions with workers, construction companies and other stakeholders alongside practical lessons based in ‘real world’ contexts.
Participants were inspired, challenged and empowered to use social innovation processes to solve problems and deliver solutions, irrespective of their background or core discipline and training.
Several of the resulting ideas are being taken forward at operational and strategic levels within Qatar. One idea, ‘A place to...’, uses university grounds to host a fair for migrant workers, allowing them to consult students about health, wellbeing, visa or finance issues in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.
The bootcamps built on social innovation tools developed specifically for the region and delivered: a cohort of practitioners; a set of methods and support framework; real-world ideas; and high-level impact.