Chapter 1: Status Quo
David, a business consultant, passes the architectural eyesore each time he travels to lecture at the local faculty of engineering.
Now his university boss has challenged him to lead businesses in transforming the site at Springfield, Wolverhampton, into a 21st century learning campus to help drive a future 'midlands engine'.
But David's unsure. What would a 21st century campus look like? Where should he start? Will David be able to make this work? Read on…
Chapter 2: Call to Adventure
The innovation adventure aims to help participants:
- Tell stories of a cross-sector journey of discovery and innovation;
- Design and facilitate a 5-day tour of a visionary world city;
- Tailor small group and individual excursions to strategic interests of academics and business managers;
- Time to share insights with each other and prospective partners;
- Support from a professional digital production team and business coach.
Chapter 3: Assistance
From this 'co-creation' emerges a joint vision for the trip. We create a wish-list and start thinking about audiences and ways of communicating our insights to markets and teams back home. After a couple of weeks of research, using online collaborative tools, we come up with a schedule - leaving space to allow for the unexpected.
- They are opportunities to showcase work and open up investment discussions across both industry and government. By 2020, the 'smart' market is valued at $13 billion (London) and $1.3 trillion worldwide;
- With typically 70% private sector, and 30% public sector from cities around the world, they offer strong networking and learning opportunities. High profile cities include New York, Barcelona, Berlin, Tel Aviv and Tallinn.
The Barcelona event, usually in November, is generally recognised as the biggest and the best of the Smart City events, with 1400 delegates, 400 exhibitors, 400 speakers, 500 cities, 100 countries and 400 media representatives. There are similar opportunities in Istanbul, Puebla, Casablanca, Sofia, Kuala Lumpur, Kyoto, Singapore and London, to name just a few.
Co-creating the study tour
We use a permaculture process based on whole-systems thinking that combines ethics and design principles. Permaculture guides us to mimic the patterns and relationships we can find in nature and can be applied to all aspects of human habitation, from agriculture to ecological building, from appropriate technology to education and even economics. Delegates develop a series of enquiries to guide their learning journey:
Everyone's very satisfied with their visions. The delegates are surprised to discover such strong connections among them. But will this new fellowship be able to pull together a programme in time to achieve this? Read on...
Chapter 4: Commitment
But it's touch and go for some of the delegates, faced with last-minute challenges from other commitments, preventing them attending planning meetings, organise their cover and complete paperwork. At one stage, it looks like we might not have the numbers -- let alone a programme! With some still not signed up, a decision is taken to send the advance team to Barcelona to prepare the way.
Meet some of our other travellers and hear about their interests: Jay specialises in inward investment, business growth and economic development; Paul is an expert in IT security, using technology to help businesses grow; Iain is developing artificial intelligence to support disadvantaged people such as those with special educational needs.
Then, on the day of departure, one of the senior participants gets stuck in traffic. He's a crucial member of the team but it's touch and go whether he'll miss the plane. Read on...
Chapter 5: Trials
After an adventurous transition, our fellowship of intrepid urban researchers immediately sense there's something different about this 'smart' city. It's clear that this is a very holistic approach to development. At the same time, we're all beginning to learn that, despite the inspiring potentional, the concept of a smart city is still very much work in progress.
There are tests and trials for both the production team and our delegation. A big thanks to Ryan, an erstwhile member of our production crew, who spent a day trekking across the city testing these out. He struggled to find his way to the football stadium, getting lost and having his wallet stolen in the process. Luckily, our Spanish is coping well and we have a super support network on the ground.