Aalto University takes design and business expertise to Japan
Students and researchers of the programme in International Design Business Management (IDBM) were invited to organise a Design Thinking workshop at Yamagata University in Japan. The three-day workshop focused on the challenges of product development from the point of view of business opportunities. Professors, researchers and students from Yamagata University participated in the workshop.
User-oriented thinking and business models were the principal themes of the workshop. Design thinking was at the core of the workshop and participants had a chance to practise different tools of critical design and business thinking in practice. The aim of the workshop was to find different product development alternatives for end users of the technology developed by Yamagata University.
Yamagata University is a pioneer in the field of organic chemistry and electronics. Research conducted at the university focuses on sensor and solar energy technology. The university has built a Smart Future House in the city of Yonezawa utilising the sensor technology developed by the university.
‘The workshop was very useful to me. Market segmentation and user orientation were completely new perspectives on product development, but now I understand how they can support product development and increase the value of the product,’ says Nishiki Uchibe, a student at Yamagata University.
‘It is important to stop and think about what the user needs. Technology should be developed to serve those needs and we should not always attempt to reconcile the user with the existing technology. It was great to see how the participants had a completely new understanding of user-oriented thinking and assessment of different business models after the intensive workdays,’ says Iina Airaksinen, who studies the IDMB Master’s Programme.
Vilma Viiala, who studies the IDBM programme, is happy about what the workshop taught her about the importance of understanding and studying the user’s needs before the actual product development process. Students at Yamagata University had not used user-oriented methods before or considered how a commercial strategy can be developed to support technology.
The interdisciplinary Master’s Programme in International Design Business Management (IDBM) at Aalto University combines business, technology and design. The aim of the programme is to train skilled professionals for key roles in international design business management. Service product management as well as business development are at the core of the programme. The degree also includes a one-year consultation project with a business customer.
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