The Covid-19 pandemic has done what few ever thought possible — grounded planes, shut mines and factories, emptied malls and closed schools, not in one country only, but all around the world.
As the number of infections grow, and more people succumb to the virus, governments, companies and civil society organisations worry about how we will survive this unprecedented disaster, one that the UN has called the worst humanitarian crisis since World War 2. The global economy is in shambles and a sense of desperation is palpable.
This has encouraged Middel & Partners to spearhead a project together with the FORTH Innovation Collective to assemble a team of design thinking and innovation experts from around the world to work together to develop solutions to the crisis. The team spans continents, representing many countries, including The Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, Italy, Spain, Greece, Romania, Hungary, China and UK.
The goal is to reduce the negative effect of the virus now and in the post-pandemic world, as well as to provide practical and immediate solutions, to contain the spread of the virus and mitigate the effect on infected people, social systems and the economy.
The task and process at hand to take on the Covid-19 pandemic
With the assignment set and the team already past Full Steam Ahead (Phase 1), the members are Observing and Learning (Phase 2), gathering relevant information from around the world, and identifying the most critical issues (frictions) facing people. Technologies are also being evaluated to determine whether they can solve some of the most critical frictions and consider whether they are innovation opportunities.
The Raising of Ideas (Phase 3) is when hundreds of ideas are generated and the best ones selected and built into viable concepts. The Testing of Ideas (Phase 4) is also a critical step as possible solutions must be validated. The final Homecoming (Phase 5) is when the team hands over the viable solutions that have been checked and are ready for implementation.
The project will last between five and eight weeks and the three working groups have the following points of focus:
1. Measures to reduce the rate of infection while preparing health-care systems for the effective care for all in need — especially for those countries most in need of help, including solutions for disadvantaged and impoverished members of our global family.
2. Innovative solutions that will alleviate the social and socioeconomic effect of Covid-19, including the loss of economic opportunities and income, depression, loneliness and reduced human-to-human interaction. This group is also creating solutions to assist SMEs, especially those with insufficient government support, and provide effective tools to continue education, with a view to having a presence at schools or universities that is impossible during lockdown.
3. Solutions for the post-Covid-19 world, when the pandemic is finally over. This group will focus on the opportunities inherent in this crisis. What could be the “new normal”? How can we create an even better life — socially, culturally and economically? What certainties are now less certain? How do we prevent the recurrence of such a crisis?
The need for people from all over the world to stay home to limit the spread of Covid-19 has ironically united us, despite the distance between us, and this group of international experts, from all over the world, has come to find the innovative solutions we so badly need.
The solutions will be available on the FORTH innovation website, social media platforms and via email to anyone free of charge.
Here are the members of the Global Innovation Team:
Coenie Middel (Project Leader) (South Africa); Gijs van Wulfen (Greece); Divan Swanepoel (South Africa); Alexander Madl (Germany); Nereo Lanzoni (Italy); Maria Vittoria Colucci d’Amato (Italy); Letizia Migliola (Italy); Marco Stehouwer (Netherlands); August Eckhardt (Netherlands); Eveline CM van Eck (Netherlands); Jessie Wagemakers (Netherlands); Corina Ghiatau (Romania); Rienk Venema (Netherlands); Dr Wouter van Leeuwen (Netherlands); Geert Vermeir (Belgium); Mathijs Niehaus (Netherlands); Silvia Zubeldia (Spain); Geert Schols (Netherlands); Akos Zala (Hungary); Jens Emrich von Kajdacsy (Germany); Jeffery Zhang (China).
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