PROUD launch Lancaster Co-design Challenge

The PROUD project officially launched in the UK on Tuesday 8th May at ImaginationLab. Over 100 people from business, academic, government and local communities came to hear how co-design is being used to solve complex societal challenges in Lancashire and across Northern Europe

Keynote speakers Stéphane Vincent executive director and founder of the French innovation lab La 27e Region and designer Romain Thévenet spoke of how La 27e Région works with the 26 regional governments in France through what he called ‘friendly hacking’ to co-design public policy, and services. They described how they embed a co-design approach in the development of services and policy by co-designing projects with the communities for which they are intended. They were clear they do not do ‘best practice’ instead letting their learning come from what goes wrong in and termed this ‘anti best practise’.

Leon Cruickshank gave an overview of the PROUD project and how a co-design approach enables a wide range of people to have a creative contribution to the formulation and solution of a problem. His objective as an interaction designer is to facilitate innovation through harnessing the knowledge and creative potential of all participants. This results in innovative and practical solutions that could never come from one single stakeholder, including professional innovators.

Design Manager Gemma Coupe introduced the first PROUD co-design challenge, a partnership with Lancashire County Council and Lancaster City Council which aims to bring significant improvements to the City Park area behind Lancaster Castle. Key aims for the co-design process were outlined. These include creating a shared aspiration and new identity for the site, proposals to interpret and enhance the heritage and tourism offer and proposals for the co-design of the landscape planning.

This was followed by a panel session with 5 local representatives all with a vested interest in the improvement of the site. Delegates were treated to what almost turned into a lecture from local historian Mike Derbyshire on the fascinating history of the site, which includes a Roman Fort and a Benedictine Priory. Andy Darby, Creative Manager for PROUD at The Storey chaired the panel session and fielded some interesting questions from the audience which conveyed the range of opinion the project provokes and the complexity of the co-design challenge ahead.

Through their visit La 27e Region discovered how many connections they already have to ImaginationLancaster through other European projects and we look forward to seeing Romain again at the PROUD partner meeting in Helsinki at the end of May.