Supporting urban innovators in framing their capacity-building journey

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The current project started with the intention of exploring how design could support initiatives in their complex challenges trying to bring innovation in cities. The scale and complexity of such societal challenges, force urban innovators to constantly adapt and learn, developing new capabilities that can help them succeed in a multi-level process that forces them to create valuable propositions for several actors in the system. The opportunity for the current project was seen in exploring how design could be used to support these initiatives in developing their own capacity building process throughout their complex challenge of embedding innovation in cities. The goal of the project is, in particular, to investigate how to design a methodology that supports urban innovators in framing their capacity building steps, in order to foster their continuous development of capabilities for their innovation processes.
After initial explorations through theories on transdisciplinary and reflective approaches, combined with designed interventions with master students, a clearer research direction has been identified to answer the following research question; How can a reflective tool enable urban innovators in developing their own Designscapes capacity building trajectory in order to facilitate continuous improvement and diffusion of capabilities? The project takes a research through design approach, articulated in five iterative design interventions. During the interventions, prototypes are designed and evaluated with urban innovators from Designscapes project, leading to the final proposal of a reflective tool for DEI initiatives. Through five iterations, insights are generated regarding how reflective processes can better facilitate the identification of capacity building needs in DEI projects. Simultaneously, each intervention informed as well the requirements for the design of the reflective tool as final outcome of this project. The final result of the project, a reflective tool in support of DEI initiatives’ capacity building journeys, contributes to facilitate urban innovators in embracing a reflective approach in carrying out their projects and identifying new capabilities they need to develop to succeed in them. The final result still has opportunities for improvement and further research is seen as necessary for its implementation in real context constraints of initiatives projects.