InnovationLAB: Increasing happiness in Rotterdam

Perseverance, knowledge and different angles are the ingredients for a happy innovation for the city of Rotterdam.

From November until 22 March, honours students participated in a ‘laboratory’ in which they created ideas and designs to increase happiness for people of various cultures and ages in the future city. They were inspired by sociologists, positive psychologists, urban designers, philosophers and positive designers.

Positive vibe

Every Wednesday students of the InnovationLAB, an Honours Class in collaboration with the universities of Rotterdam, Delft and Leiden, gathered at the Venture Café at Het Groot Handelsgebouw. Professionals and researchers told the students about their work and field of study, dealing with happiness. Urban designer Egbert Stolk for example taught us that areas with multiple functions have a more positive vibe than fixed functional boundaries between work and shop areas. Psychologist and PhD student Evelien Broekhof emphasized the importance of play for children. We also learned how to make the perfect drawing or business model canvas during workshops.

For the last five months, we have been working on the creative process of coming up with an innovation to increase happiness in Rotterdam. Instructors Robbert Jan van der Veen, Stella Groenewoud and Wim Schermer were there to help us focus and to give advice. The target groups varied from ‘ambitious Muslim women’, ‘wealthy 60-plus inhabitants’, to ‘the active elderly population’. I was appointed the ‘politically active youngsters’ as my target group. By visiting and interviewing them we found out they are busy, curious and ambitious. Keeping this as well as the information from the presentations and workshops in mind, we tried to come up with an idea to increase their and others’ happiness.

Different angles

The fact that we all come from different studies and different disciplines made it easier to come up with ideas, since we all thought of different aspects. The students participating in this Honours Class have various backgrounds: from philosophy, industrial design, psychology, economics, biology and politics to engineering.
My group consists of engineer Veerle, who’s great at drawing,  industrial designer Matthijs who excels in PowerPoint and philosopher Reindert who always reminds us of the higher purpose of our idea. The InnovationLab was especially useful for me since it taught me to look at the city in a different way than I used to do, being a social scientist.

It’s very important and a lot of fun to work on the happiness of a city. Prime Minister Rutte and Mayor of Rotterdam Aboutaleb also discovered this during their visit to the Venture Café. They thought it was great that students were motivated to work on the happiness of  Rotterdam and wanted to know everything about our Honours Class.  On 16 March, all students presented their final ideas. These ranged from dinner events to a big board game for children. On 24 March the last meeting will take place in which the results of the course will be presented to businesses, partners and those interested. All are welcome to hear about our projects and enjoy some drinks at the Venture Café in Rotterdam from 16:00 untill 20:00!

(Door Judith van Beek)

Last Modified: 23-03-2016