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Aug 30, 2018

Design and innovation accelerator for Sri Lanka

AOD launches Centre for Creative Enterprise: an open invitation to 

businesses to collaborate with design

Design thinking for industry has been recognised as the future’s DNA for well over a decade now, and countries like the UK have leveraged this, gaining remarkable results. Local economies in the UK have grown their creative industries twice as fast as other industry sectors, while progressive nations like Singapore have been converging creativity for its own ventures in its own way, but once again for impactful commercial ventures. Sri Lanka, too, will need to accelerate in this space to differentiate its industries’ value proposition, in order to be globally competitive in a new modern world with its own exports and ventures.

In a progressive move that encapsulates this thinking, AOD announced the launch of a powerful new foundation that bridges brands, businesses, and professionals across major industries, with fresh design talent that allows industry to take new shape through design thinking. The newly launched Centre for Creative Enterprise (CCE) plays a specific role in the evolving creative industries ecosystem in Sri Lanka, by becoming an active think-tank to deliver real life solutions to businesses, where businesses can work with designers and even students of creative disciplines to deliver new-age solutions, led by design. 

Lin Gong-Deutschmann, Managing Director of Design Corp, AOD’s Holding Company, shared her thoughts on the new unit: “Sri Lanka’s new competitive edge is a fusion between creativity, business, and technology. What CCE sets out to do is create a platform where businesses can literally brainstorm, collaborate, and co-create with the next generation of design talent.” Speaking on AOD’s leadership to initiate this accelerator, Lin commented: “AOD is solid in the belief that academia, especially in progressive areas like design-led innovation, have a responsibility to lead the industry into new frontiers, by connecting them with the right talent and inspiration, and the capacity to experiment and innovate what they do in the commercial sphere. Without this education-business correlation, progress would take too long. And, Sri Lanka needs this progress right now! This is why we have pushed to formalise CCE, as a foundation that unifies efforts between academia and business, to really push the boundaries in terms of what design innovation can achieve for Sri Lanka.”

Lin’s sentiments echo the thinking of many progressive industry leaders who have been calling for a platform of this nature. She went on to further comment on the diversity in the selection of companies invited to be part of CCE, and the kind of benefits that will be within their reach through this ground-breaking foundation. “Initially, we have only extended the invitation to be part of CCE to a small hand-picked group of outstanding companies working in Sri Lanka. The selection was based on the kind of companies that share AOD’s commitment to promoting innovation, rewarding design excellence, and nurturing the next generation of creative thinkers. Within this, we have made sure to select from a wide spectrum of industries, from finance, hospitality, and apparel, to transportation and tech, so that we are really able to foster a complete ecosystem of companies that can benefit one another as well,” she said. 

Ranjula Herath, driving business strategy and development for the newly formed unit, spoke on the type of projects the unit will handle. “AOD has always had industry coming to us to develop solutions, from packaging to product design. We needed a formal unit to deliver to this, whether it’s coming up with a new user experience model, or to develop concepts, branding and design strategy which can be delivered to industry as commercially viable solutions. This Centre for Creative Enterprise (CCE) Unit will operate in a unique way, which is very similar to the most futuristic think tanks in innovation capitals, where each CCE foundation member and business requests will be assigned a handpicked team of designers and cross disciplinary innovators to work on specific projects, new ideas, or even pure experimentation. CCE will be tapping into the dynamic pool of creative talent and the infrastructure in place at AOD, and will be housed within AOD. “Our solutions and ideas will be diverse and out of the box, coming from different disciplines of design, mentored by professional design teams. Hence, you get to choose from who has applied design thinking innovatively to solve your business problem.”

An epicentre for innovation

Herath continued: “There is a huge movement globally now, to break down traditional linear systems. What CCE does is pioneering this disruption in Sri Lanka, and breaking the mould in how businesses use talent, which will result in huge benefits to any business. For Sri Lanka, it’s time that we move from being one of the world’s back-end offices, to an epicentre of innovation. And, this begins with establishing what AOD calls a ‘global creative class’ in the country, who will take the lead in driving innovation in everything we do. And, this global creative class cannot be just designers or creative professionals: it needs to be a mix of manufacturing professionals, industry leaders, and finance experts along with the young innovators. This is how Sri Lanka will foster an innovation ecosystem that is increasingly influential, cosmopolitan, and skilled. CCE is where this transformation begins. And when the next phase of growth kicks in with some of the projects that AOD itself is initiating, like the ‘Colombo Innovation Tower’ which introduces the future of work culture to Sri Lanka, there would be a group that can actually draw benefits from it.”

CCE adds value to businesses and organisations through a design-led approach to problem solving for products, services or systems. Drawing on the creativity of AOD’s faculty, students and alumni network, CCE can deliver tailor-made concepts and solutions to a wide range of design challenges. For more information on CCE reach the CCE Secretariat at AOD on 0115867772/3, or visit 29, Lauries Road, Colombo 4 on weekdays 9 am -5pm.

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