Research & Innovation 2015-16 - Page 101

Africa’s first d-school trains postgrads
to solve complex real-world challenges
The newly-established Hasso Plattner
Institute of Design thinking (HPI
d-school) at UCT is one of only three
HPI d-schools in the world. “The
school’s overall objective is to promote
design thinking as an enabler of
innovation and new outcomes that can
meet the needs of users in complex
socio-political and economic contexts,”
says Richard Perez, founding director of
the UCT HPI d-school.
Design-thinking training’s basic tenets are collaboration,
human-centredness, creative thinking and learning through
doing. The d-school’s flagship offering is transdisciplinary
training in design-led innovation to postgraduate students
registered at any faculty at UCT.
Design-led innovation is seen as both a career and an
entrepreneurial competency. “It’s a way of thinking that
provides students with tools and a process – and ultimately,
a mindset – that equips them to work together to create
solutions to real-world challenges,” says Perez.
The focus of the training is experiential learning, and
students work in multidisciplinary teams, closely mentored
by coaches, in a customised studio space. During the
training, students apply design-thinking tools and
techniques to develop solutions for real-world challenges
provided by strategic project partners.
Among these partners have been one of South Africa’s
major financial institutions, a department of a local
municipality and a start-up. The partners receive the benefit
of user insights, a library of ideas and a tested prototype of
one of the ideas.
The HPI d-school at UCT also offers other training
programmes, including courses for executives,
undergraduates, young entrepreneurs, and organisations and
The other HPI d-schools are at Stanford University in the USA
(est. 2005) and Potsdam University in Germany (est. 2007).
The school is supported with funding, IP and academic
support by the Hasso Plattner Trust.
Industry, innovation and infrastructure 96

UCT HPI d-school

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