One of the OPER.CBI events hosted at Ideasquare, CERN, February 2020.

CBI - Challenge Based Innovation is a 4-6 months programme where teams of university students develop projects to solve complex societal problems, inspired by technological ideas that come from instrumentation development or basic research at CERN.                                                                  Ideasquare is the CERN unit devoted to Tech transfer and Open innovation projects with the universities. 

https://www.cbi-course.com/                                                                                      https://ideasquare.cern/

Employer: Almacube                                                                                          Almacube is the incubator and innovative hub of the University of Bologna.
Client:  (edition 19-20) Coop alleanza 3.0, Aimag, Ynap, Sit, Camst, CNS.          (20-21 edition) Sanofi Genzyme, Intesa San Paolo, Uteco, Deco Industrie, Coop Reno.                                                                                                           October 2019 -Onward.

The Team:                                                                                                                    Professor Matteo Vignoli - Academic Director                                                         Alberto Miti,Eleonora Musca, Michael Oggionni - design thinking coaches

Silvia Marchini - Program coordinator & design thinking coach                  Tasks :       

  • to carry out the relationship with the corporate partners from the challenge creation to their involvement in the program's main events.
  • To design the CBI process, including the weekly goals, activities and deliveries.
  • To give classes about design thinking and service design.
  • To organize events, including two design sprints hosted in Ideasquare, Cern.
  • To coordinate my colleagues by assigning tasks and providing guidelines.
  • To coach two student teams by supporting them in applying innovative approaches, from the initial research to the concept definition.

The Goal:

The output:

to activate open innovation projects, aimed at designing new products/services/processes, where students are involved in real world challenges and learn design thinking, while companies can explore a new innovation approach while being in contact with new competences and young talents.

The output of CBI is a design concept prototyped and tested with users. The project includes as well economic evaluations and a strategy to implement the solution.                                                                                                                  The 6 projects delivered during the edition 19-20 are all covered by NDA. 


Team picture in front of Ideasquare. CBI 19-20.

The process: 

The 19-20 edition of CBI program involved 50 participants distributed into 6 multidisciplinary teams of students from 3 different Universities and 6 corporate partners.
I list below a couple of starting challenges as an example:

AIMAG - How to improve the rigid bioplastic composting process?
Bioplastic peculiarity consists in the possibility of being turned into compost rather than waste; for this reason, bioplastic items are currently processed together with organic waste. However, rigid bioplastic often end-up in landfills due to the longer degradation time.

COOP Alleanza 3.0 - The future retail experience for generation z
Coop is a cooperative of consumers whose main business is based on supermarkets. Coop is currently considering to develop a new offer to approach a younger consumers target known as “ generation z” which is almost absent among the associates, (Coop current critical mass belongs to an old age range) but represents the future consumers.

My main coordination challenges were about:                                                 students expereince: the CBI course is highly demanding since it requires students to switch from their traditional way of learning, characterized with a clear path overview and a passive absorption of theoretical information, to the design thinking approach, which trains students to move in an uncertain environment with a high level of independence, freedom and responsibility. Despite the high output standards, it is important to design the student experience in order to keep it fun and creative, otherwise innovation just can’t happen.

Relationship with companies: in CBI, corporate partners must question the status quo and trust university students throughout the innovation process. The development of such a trust-based relationship is extremely important to leverage on students and corporate partners' creativity potential.

Connection with CERN researcher: Cern researchers have a vertical and deep knowledge about their domains, but no idea about the innovation projects the students are working on and a constrained time availability. Therefore, students have to be trained at being specific on their questions, even though the projects are still undefined.



The Sugar final Expo events in San Francisco, California (2017-18)

Sugar is a global network that brings together multidisciplinary students from different universities, asking them to tackle real product/service development challenges.
The program adopts the IDEO/Stanford design process to develop products or services that can meet consumers' and company needs and expectations.
The course is based on practice-based learning; thus, the global student teams research, prototype, test and iterate to develop and implement innovative solutions. The final proof-of-concept prototypes are typically featured at the Stanford/Sugar Design EXPE each June in California.



Employer: Almacube           
Client: DKV, Poggipolini                                                                                        October 2017 - june 2019

The Team:                                                                                                              Matteo Vignoli - Academic Director                                                            Francesco D'Onghia, program coordinator

Silvia Marchini- design thinking coach                                                                 For 2 years, I was the design thinking coach in the Sugar program, having the possibility to experience a highly international work-environment which brought me to travel to San Francisco (USA), Shanghai (China), Kyoto (Japan), Dusserdolf, Colon (Germany), St. Gallen (Switzerland).
I have delivered 2 service innovation projects, one with the technical university of Munich and with the international company DKV, the second with the University of Kyoto and the Italian company Poggipollini.
During both projects, I have coached a multidisciplinary and international team of students.
Being a coach is one of the most enriching professional experience. The coaching activity requires the capability to empower people without providing any answer to them and find their own instead.

Selected Works

OPER.CBIOpen Innovations programs

UNA.TENDesign Hackaton

Design Thinking Mindset UXDigital User Experience design