J.C.DISI: Asia's First Design Institute for Social Innovation

The year 2012 not only sees the 75th Anniversary of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), but also marks an important milestone in the 48-year history of its School of Design. Ranked as one of the top design schools in the world, PolyU School of Design (SD) is taking a major step forward by establishing the first Design Institute for Social Innovation in Hong Kong and in Asia.

More recently, PolyU has garnered support from senior academics and design professionals for this new initiative. Professor Cees de Bont, Dean of PolyU School of Design, and Mr Alvin Yip, Director of Jockey Club Design Institute for Social Innovation (J.C.DISI) today (7 December) announced the set up of J.C. DISI International Advisory Committee.

Supported by a generous grant from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, J.C.DISI aims to facilitate design and designer's response towards the increasingly complex social challenges today. J.C.DISI will be a curator, a "third space", a necessary partner for the government, corporations and the community in research of societal change.

The Institute, to be housed in PolyU's Jockey Club Innovation Tower in completion by mid 2013, will convene designers, scholars, public intellectuals, activists and advocates to imagine, visualize, debate and construct scenarios, strategies and systems for Hong Kong and beyond. Social designers, on the other hand, will offer cross-disciplinary, alternative propositions and applications in the fields of environment, health, youth, entrepreneurship, media and more.

The International Advisory Committee comprises 12 distinguished experts, academics and industry practitioners, with Ms Kigge Hvid as the Chairlady. As founding CEO of the renowned INDEX: Design to Improve LifeR, Ms Kigge Hvid launches the INDEX: Award, an international design award aims to offer inspiration by showing people how their personal lives and the lives of people around them can be improved; to educate by using real life challenges as learning resources in schools and the talents of school as a resource in society; to engage by long-term, valuable network collaborations – ensuring economically, socially and environmentally sustainable solutions.

Another member of J.C.DISI International Advisory Committee is Professor Jeremy Myerson, who is Director of Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at Royal College of Art in the United Kingdom. Helen Hamlyn Centre undertakes design research and projects with industry that will contribute to improving people's lives, from aging, health services to work life. J.C.DISI has engaged Helen Hamlyn Centre as partner for its first "Design for Social Innovation Festival", a community event that will be organized in parallel with the professional IncludeAsia Conference when the Innovation Tower opens in mid 2013.

J.C.DISI will launch the "Design for Social Innovation Festival". This annual major event will celebrate and advance best practices for the social innovative ethos, including the most successful projects of the Institute. The Festival will consist of creative and exciting exhibitions, symposia, workshops for a wide spectrum of interests and stakeholder groups. The festival will also see the presentation of the "Design for Social Innovation Award" to an individual or team of youth whose work is found to best exemplify design for social good, social impact, as well as social systemic change.

PolyU is committed to achieving excellence in applied research and transferring knowledge and skills with application value to the society. The aim of J.C.DISI – as reflected in its name "Design for Social Innovation" – is, through design, to effect change in society to enhance efficiency and quality of life through sustainable well-being for all. J.C.DISI is therefore an initiative that is of vital importance to the dimension of design as social practice, that responds in theory and practice to rapid change, while articulating structured knowledge and methods to meet emerging needs.