UTDesignLabExploring the impact of new technologies for regional challenges

Exploring the impact of new technologies for regional challenges

Are you aware of the latest developments in the digital domain? What are your strengths within your role, your personal values, and how can you make impact on desirable scenarios for the future? How does that affect the plans and ideals of the people around you? Last week, over 50 experts from the Province of Overijssel took on this challenge for the region, at DesignLab University of Twente (UT).

Building bridges between the province and academic world

DesignLab UT is the innovative and collaborative ecosystem where society and science find each other to generate responsible change. The headquarters is located at the green campus of UT, right in the center of the five different faculties, three institutes and Kennispark Twente. We focus on health innovation, climate resilience and a digital society.

At the Province of Overijssel, digitalisation is an important development to anticipate on. Therefore, after a persuasive introduction by DesignLabs program manager Maya van den Berg, the following UT researchers delivered brief introductions on various technological developments:

A taste of Responsible Futuring

Being updated on new technologies, participants took action in an engaging workshop by moderator Maartje Huinink. They co-created both speculative and desirable futures in the context of these developments, their daily work and opportunities in the region, using the Responsible Futuring approach.

What if data farmers start to exploit a network of data farms?
It benefits the farmers, the region, nature, knowledge industries...

The team members created ‘What if’- scenarios in the context of their responsibities: How could these technologies play a role in the future of your job or challenges in the region? And: what could be potential consequences for stakeholders?

People were asked to brainstorm a product, service or policy that could exist in the future and make a 'provotype' out of it: a provocative protoype using LEGO and tinkering material to make the possible future tangible. This supports thinking and discussing about desirable and undesirbale futures. The provotypes were exhibited in a lunch exhibition.

Lastly there was a moment to reflect on these speculative ideas: What are the negative and positive implications?


Co-shaping futures in just a couple of hours may sound ambitious and result in abstract scenarios. Finding a way to bring ideas back to the present, take action within the time frame that we can anticipate, is key. Using a reverse timecapsule, participants were asked to define a 'tip from the future':

"Don’t be afraid. Soon, you don’t have to work anymore. Just enjoy! Xxx your digital twin"

"A lot is possible: start the conversation. Discover new perspectives. You can design the future."

"Emphasis should be placed on the developments/research regarding regional issues. This way it is a win win situation."

Start collaborating now

Would you like to know more about opportunities for your organisation, and are you willing to share and receive new perspectives on the challenges you are working on? Take the next step: DesignLab is ready and here for you! We coordinate, facilitate and communicate initiatives that connect citizens, government and the industry with research and education at University of Twente, aiming to co-shape futures that we want to live in. Contact our community manager Wiro Kuipers.

The day was nicely closed by Cees Timmer, head of the Project and Program management unit at the Province of Overijssel, who shared his wish for the future:

“We should bestir ourselves; let’s embrace new technologies and ways of working, to take forward on the goals for the challenging tasks the Province of Overijssel has been given."