This year, three projects developed based on Kennisland projects are taking place in Hong Kong. Education Pioneers (Onderwijs Pioniers) forms the basis of the new Fellowship Program for Teachers, funded by the ++Jockey ClubThe Hong Kong Jockey Club is Hong Kong’s most important fund for social initiatives. with the aim of creating more space for the innovative capacity of teachers. New school concepts were crowdsourced during a ++Summer schoolRead more about this summer school. inspired by Our New School (Onze Nieuwe School)++Our New SchoolRead more about crowdsourcing new schools in our case ‘Start-ups in education’., and the Make a Difference School was launched with a social lab that aimed to find ++LibrariesRead more about this social lab..
These projects were developed and set up with Kennisland’s help. We organised a social lab sprint last summer (see video below), a team came from Hong Kong to Amsterdam to learn about the social lab method and Chris Sigaloff flew to Hong Kong++Summer Dream SchoolRead more about the Summer Dream School. several times to advise governmentsAn explanation for the “import” of projects developed by Kennisland is the growing desire in Hong Kong for innovative approaches that facilitate bottom-up innovation. Hong Kong has little experience with these. and funders.
Why this interest from Hong Kong?
When it comes to developing their own, innovative approaches, money is not an issue: Hong Kong has a budget surplus of over 7 billion euros. An explanation for the “import” of projects developed by Kennisland is a growing need for innovative approaches that facilitate bottom-up innovation. These are approaches that Hong Kong hasThere is more and more attention for grassroots initiatives and there are more and more people who take matters into their own hands and who feel co-responsible for the development of society. little experience with. People generally look to the local government to tackle problems, while ordinary people are mainly seen as consumers. Social innovation is an unfamiliar concept in Hong Kong and innovation in general is not high on the agenda. However, you do see that more attention has been paid in recent years to grassroots initiatives in Hong Kong and that ++Good LabAn example of this is the Good Lab, which acts as a hub for social entrepreneurs. are taking matters into their own hands and feel co-responsible for the development of society. The recent Umbrella Revolution++Umbrella RevolutionRead more about these sit-in protests. exemplifies this movement – and people are seeking inspiration for this abroad.
It is logical to ask whether the approaches developed in the Netherlands will work in such a different culture. For example, the verbal, direct and opinionated Dutch teachersThe verbal, direct and opinionated Dutch teachers contrasted greatly with the modest, obedient teachers in Hong Kong. contrasted greatly with the modest, generally quite obedient teachers in Hong Kong. Terms such as experimentation, innovation and giving criticism have a different meaning there. It’s not easy to get a discussion going after a lecture and people tend to follow assignments rather than develop their own initiatives. Approaches such as Education Pioneers and social labs, where hierarchical differences are put aside, are therefore quite a contrast to the normal, hierarchical and bureaucratic way of working and organising.
Nevertheless, there is a great deal of interest in these approaches. This is because there is real desire in Hong Kong for ways of working that make it possible for people to take the initiative themselves rather than waiting for the government. People seem very willing to take action themselves and to make a difference. The success of Education PioneersThe success of Education Pioneers, Our New School and social labs show it is possible to think big but start small., Our New School and the social labs show it is possible to think big but start small, that many small parts eventually make a real difference and that bottom-up innovation can work. The feedback we receive is that the Dutch examples inspire people in Hong Kong and give them confidence. It gives them the helping hand they need to do it themselves.
Exporting or transferring
A recurring theme in the world of social innovation is the need to scale up innovations in order to have a real impact. Too many social innovations are confronted with the limitations of operating in the margins. However, there is also a fundamental unease about scaling up as most social innovations are in fact very specific to a particular context and location. Simply “exporting” methods or solutions therefore does not seem very promising. Our partnership with Hong Kong demonstrates that there is an alternative: not simply scaling up, but making principles that work transferrable.There is a fundamental unease about scaling up as most social innovations are in fact very specific to a particular context and location. It’s better to make principles that work transferrable. This means we will not simply start up Education Pioneers in Hong Kong. Instead, we try to make the principles of the programme so explicit that people in Hong Kong can set it up for themselves. We share our knowledge, are open about our mistakes and successes, contribute ideas and are active partners. Our goal is that Hong Kong should be able to develop its own approaches and methods – not copied but certainly inspired by Kennisland.
Kennisland learns a lot
For Kennisland this is a unique opportunity to further develop approaches and to see how they work in a different context. We can adjust the elements that were not optimal in the Netherlands, while making it possible for those in Hong Kong to experiment based on real, practically-driven experience. It also makes collaboration with numerous parties in Hong Kong possible, which results in new inspiration and knowledge for new approaches in the future.
27 Jun – 2 Jul 2016 ,All day De Ruijterkade 128, Amsterdam
Social Labs: enabling citizens to co-create and co-design innovations
Read this essay, one in a series on future trends for innovative cities, written by the leading thinkers of the Mayor of Seoul’s Social Innovation Global Advisory Committee. First up: Ada Wong, founder of the Make A Difference initiative and The Good Lab in Hong Kong.