As we continue to transform the health sector's digital acceleration towards better patient outcomes, a new environment is coming to the fore. The advancement and collaboration between science and design – biodesign – will become an important driver for sustainable innovation.
This grassroots level of engagement and interdisciplinary collaboration is pushing for new meaningful and valuable innovation. There is a new generation of innovators embracing open access to science, community-driven resources and learning opportunities to build a more sustainable future.
Here are some examples:
- This year sees Central Saint Martins College in London offering a new masters degree in biodesign. The course encourages students to treat ethics and sustainability as core pillars of design, learning from nature and incorporating it into their practice. Offering a balance between design and science – among other things, students have access to facilities where they can engineer their own sustainable materials – the course aims to give its students a more holistic view of design that takes cultural and environmental considerations into account.
"We believe that in order to tackle contemporary environmental and societal challenges, there is an increased need for hybrid models of education between design and science,” says course leader Nancy Diniz about the new program. "We are already witnessing an energetic movement of startups and young entrepreneurs focusing on developing products and services on circular design, zero waste, sustainable materials and low-energy manufacturing, for example."
- At Central Saint Martins’ Material Futures 2019 show, graduate Rosie Broadhead introduced SKIN II, a textile project in collaboration with microbiologist Dr Chris Callewaert. The garment encapsulates probiotic bacteria into the fibres of clothing, which will then interact with the moisture on skin. The chosen bacteria are associated with reducing body odour, cell renewal and improving our skin's immune system.
- Since 2016, MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) and Parsons School of Design have hosted the Biodesign Challenge, a design competition for university students to 'envision future applications of biotechnology'. In June 2019, 37 teams from around the world gathered for the challenge. The overall winners for 2019 came from Universidad de los Andes for their vaccine refrigeration and transport system, powered entirely by the proteins in bacteria. Australian universities were also represented, with teams from RMIT and University of Technology, Sydney among the winners.
- Located in Melbourne, BioQuisitive is a community laboratory that aims to “democratise the access to science”, enabling access to life sciences outside of traditional educational or professional environments. The lab provides its members with high-quality facilities and a likeminded community to facilitate education, innovation and experimentation in biotechnology.
Collaboration between academia, corporates and biodesign communities with a human-centred focus and approach is key if we are to build a more sustainable future for all.
Do you know of any innovations in biodesign? We would love to hear about them.