360° of Design Thinking in Technology & Society

Design thinking, also known as human-centered design, is an innovation and problem-solving methodology used to explore real-world issues and experiment with solutions that integrate what is desirable from a human point of view, with what is technically feasible and economically viable. 

I researched, prototyped and lectured about human-centered design at the intersection of technology, business, policy and society at Stanford (Design Group).

One can innovate by innovating the way people create new technologies, business strategies, organizations, public policies, ethical guidelines and more. Based on this idea, I've been exploring how design thinking can be applied holistically to different aspects of technology and social systems.

Together with extremely multi-disciplinary teams and partner organizations from the private and public sectors, I designed, prototyped and tested technologies and business models, explored agile interfaces for innovation and public policy, re-imagined cities, industries, habits and narratives, and explored human-centered AI.

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Making European Universities More Entrepreneurial

Most European universities are not (yet) producing significant volumes of entrepreneurial outputs. However, Europe is increasingly in need of innovation and jobs creation. To tackle this problem, I co-created an EU-funded program spurring entrepreneurship and innovation in European universities through experiential learning, Silicon Valley's best practices and the engagement of local ecosystems.

 

My team and I built a European network of universities, companies and foundations from nine EU member states, and Stanford as an extra-EU partner. Together, we designed and piloted (in four countries) Europe's first experiential Master's program in Entrepreneurship whose students' core deliverable is creating a social or technology venture. We also built digital tools supporting the program's participants throughout their venture creation and learning process.

 

My main contributions were: creating the partnership between Stanford, the University of Milan Bicocca (which leads the project) and the European Commission (which funds it); embedding holistic human-centered design and Silicon Valley innovation practices at the core of the project; leading the design thinking and human-centered ventures program for European faculty and executives at Stanford; facilitating the project and program's design; and lecturing and mentoring the first cohort of graduate students in Europe. 

Mainstreaming a double bottom line in entrepreneurship and investing

The Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) was launched by the White House under Barack Obama's presidency. The first summit took place in Washington DC and was successively hosted around the world. During his final year of presidency, Barack Obama brought the Summit back to the USA, hosting it at Stanford. 

I partnered with the White House and created a team that organized the Impact Entrepreneurship Initiative at the Summit. Purpose-driven entrepreneurship and impact investing are on the rise, bringing into the spotlight a double bottom line of profit-making and positive impact on society. How might we mainstream this trend? What are the future scenarios ahead of us?

 

These questions were discussed with the GES official delegates selected by the White House, as well as special guests from the Silicon Valley and the World Economic Forum's communities. 

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