Open Innovation & Open Design

This article originally appeared on about my presentation and workshop on Technology Trends, Open Source and Open Design for Humanitarian NGOs and other organizations:

On November 27th 2018, The Spindle, in collaboration with HumanityX, organised a Future Session about global technological developments and open innovation & open design. Participants to this meeting came from various organisations, sectors, and backgrounds, which provided fruitful input and discussions, especially during the workshop part of the session.

The session was led by expert Diderik van Wingerden, who is an Open Source Innovation expert and pragmatic idealist. To find out more about Diderik and his work, visit You can find Diderik’s presentation and the material that he used for this session here.

Introduction to Technological Trends
Diderik started off by presenting a great selection of today’s technological trends and developments, among which virtual reality, big (open) data, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, 3D printing, open source & open design, internet of things and robots & drones.

New Dimensions
Today, new dimensions are emerging due to many open initiatives. Diderik shortly introduced us to the technological trends mentioned above and argued that the world is going “Open Source”, which basically refers to freedom. That is, freedom to study, use, change, repair, distribute, sell, improve and so on, for free. It became clear that many big companies, such as Microsoft, Facebook, Google and IBM do Open Source because they can potentially make more profit out of it. This is because they do not share their data, they only share their production methods. The core component of their business is gathering, using and selling data.

Dream Collaborator Workshop
After the presentation, the interactive part of the session started. Participants were asked to think, from the perspective of their own organisation, of a ‘dream collaborator’ that could solve everything they strive for. The goals of the organisations and individuals that were present during this day reflect many SDGs, such as fighting poverty, advocating sexual & reproductive health rights, combating child exploitation and supporting equality. As stressed by Diderik, we cannot solve single SDGs with single solutions and should therefore strive to solve them all at once. They are very much interlinked and dependent on each other. So, participants were inivited to think about how technology, now and in the future, could help solving the problems we are trying to combat. Diderik provided everyone a so-called ‘Tech-Deck’, which consisted of 8 cards, each being one of the technological developments mentioned above.

The group got divided into three subgroups, each of them based on a case that was suggested during the session. While focusing on cases of Oxfam, Terre Des Hommes and CHOICE, subgroups explored and fantasized in what way the technological developments could possibly contribute to solving the different challenges. Eventually, each group presented their case in which it became clear that all groups really used their fantasy and came up with inventive and innovative technological solutions that could potentially solve a great variety of issues in the development sector. A few examples are:

  • Using a 3D printer to print the birth control pill and condoms, or to print spare parts for machines, or prosthetics.
  • Using drones to quickly and effectively transport (first) aid kits, blood and medical equipment.
  • Using AI, Big Data and satellite images to monitor which areas are suitable for urban farming.
  • Using virtual reality to teach and change certain behaviours, or work on stress reduction through virtual experience.
  • Using blockchain to monitor and supervise production processes, or chains.
  • Using open design and internet of things to build your own greenhouse and contribute to food production.

Expert of the session, Diderik van Wingerden, surprised all participants by offering all organisations 1 hour of consultancy to bring ideas further! For all of you who became curious, have questions or want more information, mail to diderik [at]

In 2019, we will continue with new Future Sessions. Stay tuned since new information will follow soon. Hope to see you in 2019!