Skip to content

Gaining Global Insights and Connections: Aotearoa, New Zealand experience brings valuable learning back home to Singapore

Image: Design Factory teams from Aotearoa New Zealand and Singapore come together to connect and tour innovation hubs within the Waikato, their first visit was with world-leading animal management and security company, Gallagher. L-R: Back, David Crawford (Gallagher), Dallas Snape (Wintec), Margi Moore (DFNZ), Ho Hung Yi (DF SIT), Sam Cunnane (Wintec). Front, Ko Na Yeon (DF SIT), Aditi Neti (DF SIT), Elna Fourie (DFNZ)

Making connections around the world was on the agenda for the Design Factory team members from Singapore Institute of Technology [SIT]. Initially they sought to visit a Design Factory branch within Asia Pacific, but further investigation identified a need for a radically different cultural experience. 

Aotearoa New Zealand’s “wide open spaces” beckoned and having researched Hamilton-based Design Factory New Zealand [DFNZ] with its focus on student-centred learning, they knew this trip further afield would garner the fresh perspectives they were looking to bring back home.  

DFNZ is part of the Design Factory Global Network — a network of innovation hubs in universities and research organisations across five continents of the world. 

Wintec is fortunate to have DFNZ based on the Kirikiriora Hamilton city campus with Margi Moore at the helm. Moore says it is all about connections and relationships, “With a focus on innovation and working closely with industry partners it is where we grow and evolve our innovation thinking. We have established an on-going relationship with the Swinburne University Design Factory Melbourne and nandin, Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Innovation Centre, which has enabled our team to continually learn from others and refine our thinking about what we do.” 

When Moore was approached by the Singapore team to arrange a visit, she jumped at this opportunity. “We’d really like to see this connection grow and have already linked the Singapore group to our Australian Zoom catchups.” 

Team members from Design Factory at SIT [DF@SIT] Ho Hung Yi, Ko Na Yeon and Aditi Neti arrived in February for a week-long visit with DFNZ and quickly realised there were a few differences. 

“We have industry projects that we invite students into, while at DFNZ, they have modules and classes,” says Industrial Designer and Centre Manager at DF@SIT Ho Hung Yi. He says that exploring credit bearing modules for their students will be something they will investigate when they return, “currently at the moment, we don't have that [option] for students.”

“It really opened our eyes to what could be done back in Singapore as well. And it was very beneficial.”

As part of this experience the group toured some of Hamilton's innovation hubs in the community. Insights were gained from Soda Inc, which supports with resources and funding to accelerate business growth and innovation. When thinking about how Design Factory operates back in Singapore Ho Hung Yi says, “I've a sense that we could be sort of like the technology provider for their [business start-ups] great ideas, because it's quite similar in terms of what we have in Singapore.”

“People have great ideas, but they don't know how to execute on them right, and they might not have the technology to help them enable that execution. There’s potential to help them explore that.”

Visiting world-leading tech group Gallagher and meeting David Crawford, UX Lead, Gallagher Security, was a highlight and brought more insights into how DFNZ connects students with community and industry partners. 

Elna Fourie, DFNZ Facilitator and Coach, is excited about this semester’s student project partnership with Gallagher, with students exploring how people can feel safe in multi-use spaces. “It’s such a great opportunity for our students to work with a project partner that champions innovation and human-centered problem-solving.”

Aditi Neti, Design Factory Creative Technologist at SIT, enthused how much she appreciated learning about the structure and processes of the collaboration with Gallagher. She can see this model being helpful to students during workshops, “I really appreciated how concise and clear the [design framework] structure was, you were able to visualise what you're working with.”

They went on to tour new co-working space Hive 11, with Emma Sinclair, CEO of  Impact Hub and Jahvaya Wheki, Project Activator and Annika van Driel, Communications & Event Coordinator, at Seed Waikato

The Singapore group enjoyed visiting some tourist hotspots within the region, with Hobbiton topping their list and a road trip out to Raglan a close second. Coming from a city of 30-story buildings the group’s experience of wide-open space and “seeing the stars so clearly at night” was unforgettable. Not to mention the value of face-to-face connections bringing a deeper understanding of DFNZ ways of working and innovating. 

Image: Kate Wightman from Soda Inc shared their approach at Design Factory New Zealand HQ, based on campus at Wintec in Kirikiriroa/Hamilton.

Design Factory New Zealand is in Hamilton at Wintec city campus, offering programmes of study in innovation at undergraduate and postgraduate level and offering workshops and training for professional development. Learn about how to get involved at the website.

Wintec is part of Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology Learn More

Learn with purpose

Explore Te Pūkenga

Te Kāwanatanga o Aotearoa - New Zealand Government

Te Kāwanatanga o Aotearoa - New Zealand Government

Copyright © 2022 Wintec