Empowering What Design Can Do to fulfil its promise

The Challenge
The What Design Can Do programme began as an annual conference on the transformational role of design in social change. When its founder wanted to use the conferences to power real positive impacts, he asked us for help.

The Approach

We worked with founder, Richard van der Laken, on a strategy to reframe WDCD as an activist movement. The concept we co-developed was for a programme of open innovation challenges which involved engaging design teams from around the world on pressing societal issue of our time. We then helped implement the first competition: the Refugee Challenge was set up in partnership with the UNHCR and saw more than 600 innovative design solutions. Our Managing Director Chaired the first jury panel and has recently helped instigate a new government-led challenge on safeguarding children from abuse.

The Impact

  • Ideas ignited: the initiative inspires and celebrates hundreds of social design projects every year
  • Programme established: What Design Can Do’s Challenge programme has been running since 2015 and is funded by organisations including the IKEA Foundation.
  • Next steps defined: What Design Can Do now runs a packed, popular and impactful Challenge programme on topics such as Climate Change and Clean Energy