Design-thinking frameworks for future-directing bio-innovation

Design-thinking frameworks for future-directing bio-innovation

School:  School of Biological Sciences

Team Members: Naomi Nakayama, Larissa Pschetz, Elise Cachat


Design thinking can help the next-generation biotechnology be more thoughtful, innovative, and transformative. Designers are turning to the living world for ingenious inspirations and solutions for sustainable futures, while biotechnology is increasingly becoming designable to predictably bestow new functionalities on living systems to bio-manufacture materials, food, and medicines.   Design directed biotechnology has the potential to change the course of future science and technology, as well as socio-economic development; however, few are being trained in both design thinking and biology. Here we propose to innovate accessible active-learning frameworks, to guide students through the major steps in designing transformative bio-innovation. Two types of design-thinking frameworks in biotechnology – either challenge-led or discovery-led – will be identified, and for each a short (2-hour long) exercise-based workshop programme will be formulated.

In developing these frameworks, we will consult leading researchers and biodesign educators in the UK and USA and involve four postgraduate students. These student assistants will become University Innovation Fellows, to be certified by the global student-led innovation programme hosted by the design school at Stanford University. They will hold workshop events during the Festival for Creative Learning. The frameworks will become signature features in the curriculum of the newly established MSc Biodesign course, which is jointly taught by Schools of Biological Sciences (CSE) and Design (ECA). The new design-thinking frameworks for transformative bio-innovation will be published in journals and at conferences, while being shared with the students and researchers of the life science community at the University, also in wider circles later.

Final project report

Download the final project report (PDF)