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Innovation happens on the edges
bodil [dot] malmstrom [at] fsi [dot] lu [dot] se (Bodil Malmström)
- published 15 September 2023
The UNEXPECTED event that took place 1 June in Lund gathered unique and diverse minds and organisations, that exemplifies the dynamism of human creativity. With limitless possibilities that emerge when we break down barriers, we can embrace the unexpected.
The international arts and science innovation forum, UNEXPECTED attracted researchers, politicians, civil servants, and entrepreneurs from across Europe.
– We really wanted to show what happens when people get to meet and work together across organisations, competences and sectors, says Charlotte Lorentz Hjorth, coordinator European partnership for Innovation, Lund University, Collaboration Office.
One of the central missions of UNEXPECTED was to highlight that innovation and the innovation process must be more inclusive, with a particular focus on the culture and creative industries. In this endeavor, creating inclusive ecosystems for collaborative work is essential. The existing silos between different sectors and industries can be broken down through cross collaboration, and UNEXPECTED aimed to put a spotlight on the necessary approach for cross-innovation to thrive. The event was a chance to really dive into the innovation process itself with areas such as transforming fashion, realising human rights and existential resilience – among others. Culture should be seen as a bridge builder in innovation as well as in society.
– The innovation happens on the edges, where different sectors meet and they can collide and cross-fertilise, says Michal Hladky, CIKE, one of the participants.
EU's 2022 textile strategy is predicted to revolutionise the fashion and textile industry, forcing the sector to reassess its existing fast fashion model and explore new, more sustainable business strategies. An important part of this change is the introduction of product passports, which will soon be a requirement specification for all clothing items. How will this affect our society, businesses and in the end consumers?
– We have students from Lund University that collaborate with industrial and academic partners to carry out a test demo of product portfolios of no less than 4 000 garments, says Lars Mattiasson, coordinator at Fashion Innovation Center.
Another focus at the event was to showcase the human and cultural aspects as a starting point of innovation processes. It could be developing new technologies, improving healthcare systems, or educating the next generation. The concept of existential sustainability is something that Lund University has explored for some time, addressing fundamental questions about our purpose, responsibility, and connection to the planet and future generations. A concept that can help us get back to our roots.
– For far too long, we have sought to bring change towards more sustainable societies by focusing on external challenges that call for technical solutions and economic structures. But for pervasive or more radical change to take place, we also need to address the root cause of the problems: our relationship crisis with the living planet, past and future generations, others, and not least, ourselves, says Anna Lyrevik, advisor to the Vice-chancellor on matters of art and culture, Lund University.
And as Maria Moreira from Cité du Design St Étienne that also attended the event says:
– I came for a standard forum and expected an international experience but I got something that was very unexpected. Somehow a connection to my inner self and lots of seeds of ideas.
It is through embracing the unexpected that we find the keys to a brighter tomorrow. This is Charlotte Lorentz Hjorth belief.
– The work with creating and developing cross-innovation tracks will continue and we'll have more of these connections together between the university and society. We're actually hoping that this can be a reoccurring event, perhaps a biannual forum, where we showcase and explore new ways of working and collaborating.
Six different innovation spaces were explored emanating from research at Lund University: