Innovative ideas take the stage at Fourth Partos Innovation Festival

The Spindle awards winners amongst a vibrant event on new solutions in development

Fail fast, organisational simplification, schizophrenic thinking, fair trade software and no Euro but an Afro. These are some of the terms that could be heard at the Innovation Festival. For the fourth time Partos organized the Innovation Festival, which took place at the KIT in Amsterdam. With almost three hundred visitors, sixteen workshops, ten speakers, safari, market and panel it became a full and interesting day.

Comedians Ewout Jansen and Yinske Silva opened the festival with a small quiz through Kahoot to gauge the knowledge and atmosphere among the audience. Some interesting findings: Seventy percent of the visitors did not think that we will meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2030, which presented the workshop leader for ‘Design 2030 Now’ with a substantial challenge in the afternoon. ‘Save the people’ vs. ‘Save the planet’ obtained a precise score of 50-50, and 85 percent of the visitors prefers to innovate bottom up rather than top down.

Don’t confuse economic growth with development
After this interactive opening, moderator Bahram Sadeghi introduced the 17-year-old Kehkashan Basu (winner International Children’s Peace Prize 2016 and founder Green Hope Foundation) and Moses Isooba of Africans Rising approached the audience enthusiastically. Kehkashan spoke about her journey to a more sustainable world and how important it is to give a voice to youngsters in that context. Isooba challenged the audience by referring to the loss of legitimacy of Northern NGOs, and pled it not to confuse economic growth with development. Isooba: ‘’GDP growth is the story of the romantic economist. We from Africans Rising want to contest this narrative.’’

GDP growth is the story of the romantic economist. We from Africans Rising want to contest this narrative.

“The world is a lot more boring without innovation”. This quote came from Scott Kennedy (Buycott), who shared his view on the necessity of investment during the morning’s Spindle session. And the fact that innovation is widely taking place became apparent during the six pitches that competed for the prizes of Best Idea and Best Innovation. In the other halls of the KIT, workshops could be followed on ‘organisation agility’, ‘rural hubs’ and ‘inclusive grant writing’. The agility workshop was organized last-minute by Perpetuum and Simavi, who were thankfully able to replace Emma Proud of Mercy Corps (unavailable due to illness). Ewout van Galen, together with his organisation Simavi, followed a course on ‘agile organization’ at Perpetuum and came to talk about this. Most important advantages of agility: ‘true connection and flexibility’, but mainly ‘simplification’!


Opportunities in the digital world
In the afternoon, Ernesto Spruyt (Tunga) talked about impact sourcing: the integration of low income workers in companies from more developed countries, for a fair wage. This turned out as a good match with software companies, given the ability of the industry to work across distance. Spruyt encouraged NGOs to also focus on fair digital employment. Marketing expert Patrick Klerks also focused on the digital world in his workshop ‘Always on Marketing’. He emphasized the speed with which the Internet is doubling itself and the need to respond to this. Fail fast: ‘’Throw it online, there is no time to plan extensive campaigns.’’ Caroline Williams of Microsoft spoke in her workshop about digital imperialism: ‘’Be aware, is technology serving the world? Or just your geographical area?’’ Next to the workshops there was also the ability to see and ask about projects of Partos members’ at the Innovation Safari, to listen to stories in the Mezrab and to visit the many stands on the market.

At the end of the festival Kehkashan Basu and Moses Isooba conversed with Eveline Aendekerk (director dance4life) and Ronald Siebes (coordinator Strategic Partnerships at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) during a panel on the future of development cooperation. As a concluding keynote speech, Kilian Kleinschmidt (former ‘mayor’ of refugee camp Za’atari) gave the visitors pause for thought. What is it like to have the label of ‘refugee’? And: ‘’We’ve forgotten that we’re the first generation that is born in peace and will probably die in peace.’’

Have a look at all the photos of Partos Innovation Festival.

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