This year, the Holon Institute of Technology in partnership with ECOWEEK hosted a 7 Days of Genius discussion on using entrepreneurship for social good in Holon, Israel. It was attended by 50 young designers, including graduate and undergraduate students of Design at the Holon Institute of Technology.
The workshop centered around social entrepreneurship, and the aim was to expose students to innovative entrepreneurial approaches with a wide spectrum of examples presented by veteran designers: from nanotechnology in materials and how they can benefit society, initiatives involving foreign workers, immigrants, and people with special needs, to the revival of public space, and the activation of the local community. The innovations presented illustrated, in different ways, the 7 Days of Genius challenge around designing the Cities and Communities of the Future.
The goal was to inspire students of design, on their way to building their own careers as designers, and show them how they can combine their talent with an entrepreneurial approach and create new services and products which will benefit society.
Nanotechnology in materials can benefit society in a variety of ways; this can be from medical applications to new materials that can serve society without putting more pressure on natural resources; initiatives by young designer groups in foreign worker, immigrant and low-income neighborhoods, provide social services and community life by reviving and reclaiming public space in areas that authorities have often given up on; in institutions for people with special needs, instead of segregation, they become an integral part of the local community, providing alternative services and a point of reference and engagement for local businesses and people.
It is also no accident that the event was hosted in an academic institution. Within the context of star-architects and designers, flashy magazines and global practices, we took this opportunity to combine concepts that students are not always exposed to. Putting the focus in context, local community, innovation, entrepreneurship, place-making and design, we aimed to turn students’ attention to their cities and communities, and how their real needs are opportunities for designers to discover and develop their talent and skills by being creative, entrepreneurial and engage in work that benefits their city and their community.
The 7 Days of Genius events are opportunities for networking and forging new collaborations. The event has provided a fertile platform for this to happen. Students were exposed to new ideas and inspired to new possibilities. This will hopefully engage students to discuss more after the event and captivate them to do some research on their own. It also helps facilitate a way to learn more about how they can use these new ideas in their own work.
7 Days of Genius partner and event organizer Elias Messinas of ECOWEEK concluded, “I am convinced that it is only a matter of time before the seeds we planted in the event, will grow to become tangible initiatives for the well-being of cities and local communities.”
Learn more and watch the full livestream below.