Four teams of design thinkers from our Graduate Diploma in Design Thinking for Sustainability have been working with Oxfam, Hibernia REG, Urban Volt & Irish Life over the last two months to help them move toward increased sustainability in their organisations as part of The Spark Project. The Spark Project is an annual organisational Design Thinking challenge set by partner host companies for students to deep dive, explore, test, and share solutions on a final presentation day.

Last week, host company representatives, Graduate Diploma alums, and IA staff were invited to the Shackleton Lounge at the Innovation Academy to hear the students’ final solutions for their host companies. Presentations featured prototypes and installations and creative visual aids throughout. Overwhelmingly positive feedback from all host companies was shared, with many confirming that they would like to put forward ideas to senior management. The feedback from all in the Shackleton and those who joined us virtually made for insightful discussions when networking after the pitches.

“This was inspiring and professional. The target audience was perfect for our strategy, if this was Dragon’s Den I’d say I’m in” – Trevor Anderson, Director of Trading Oxfam Ireland

Speaking on The Spark Project, Neil Menzies, Director of Sustainability at Hibernia REG, shared:

It’s really interesting to work with people who have a broad perspective to the challenges we create, as the design thinking process is something we don’t practice day to day and it’s fascinating to see how students approach the challenges with their ideas and enthusiasm..UCD students are inspiring, always professional, and create really viable projects. For example, this year, we’re progressing with a 2022 project to look at a disused piece of land and how we can create a rewilding project.

Programme Director Thomas Macagno shared:

“The Spark project sees students applying eight months of learning and experience to real sustainability problems facing host companies.   Students get incredible hands-on experience, and companies get innovative and creative solutions. It’s a mutually beneficial partnership, putting us all a step closer to transitioning to sustainability.” 

The class of 22/23 is the third class of full-time IA students. We are currently recruiting for the next intake of expert Design Thinkers for Sustainability in September. The level 9 course is 90-100% funded by the Human Capital Initiative in response to the ever-increasing demand for green skills in all job sectors to help Ireland reach our 2030 sustainability goals. See here for further details on the course & how to apply.

Oxfam Team pictured with Trevor Anderson, Director of Trading Oxfam Ireland
Irish Life Team pictured with Sarah Kerrigan, CSR and Climate Engagement Management, Irish Life
Hibernia REG Team pictured with Neil Menzies and Hannah O'Keefe, Hibernia REG
Urban Volt Team, pictured with Mary Gray, Jean Kavanagh & Fiona McGrath, Urban Volt
Dr. Thomas Macagno, Jakub Urbaniak, Avadhoot Potdar, Ann Foulds (Teaching Team)