Edu & Toy: an "Ideathon"

Students and working adults collaborate in co-creation for the future

Fujitsu Forum 2015 Tokyo, Fujitsu's largest annual event, was held on May 14-15 at the Tokyo International Forum in Yurakucho. On the second day, Fujitsu held an "ideathon" involving students and working adults brainstorming ideas in a way that surpasses the bounds of organizations, using open innovation to create new value and ideas through co-creation.

Experiencing Co-Creation through an Ideathon

To create new, ground-breaking ideas, it's important to continuously incorporate diverse perspectives, and collaborate with stakeholders of all kinds to create new value together. To experience this kind of co-creation, Fujitsu conducted an ideathon* involving a diverse group of individuals, including: university students from throughout Japan; company and local government personnel who develop new businesses, and Fujitsu Group employees.

* Ideathon: An event where a diverse range of participants exchange and discuss ideas based on a specific theme through intensive brainstorming to generate new products, services and concepts. Its name is a combination of the words "idea" and "marathons."

Diverse members examining cutting-edge technology with a child's point of view

Under the theme "Children," the participants examined Fujitsu's leading technology from the perspective of children to create services and products for new ways to learn and play ("edu & toy").

Ms. Nanako Ishido, who is the President of CANVAS, an NPO promoting creativity and expression for children, opened the program with a keynote speech. CANVAS has produced more than 3,000 workshops, with some 350,000 children participating.

She said, "By the time many of these children become adults, many jobs may have disappeared," and pointed out the importance of creating new work through co-creation among people with diverse backgrounds and values.

Ms. Nanako Ishido, President, CANVAS

Researching technology exhibits to gather ideas

Prior to the ideathon, the participants carried out a "Technology Search," which is fieldwork conducted in order for them to observe and gather technology-related information at Fujitsu Forum 2015. Each team acted like a group of reporters, with interviewers, directors and cameramen, touring the exhibition hall to learn more at booths presenting new technology. Everyone actively interacted with booth personnel, getting numerous chances to have "hands on" experience with products, working hard to expand their ideas.

Participants also used the tablets distributed to them running the "Every Board" software to organize and share images, observations, and ideas.

Refining individual ideas as a team

After returning from the exhibition hall, the participants exchanged ideas through high-speed brainstorming facilitated by Mr. Tetsuya Sasaki, Senior Chief Consultant, Fujitsu Research Institute Co., Ltd. Everyone formed two circles, with people in the inner circle pairing off with those in the outer circle to share ideas. Through this process, all participants worked to convert their ideas into concrete proposals.

The ideas were synthesized into a single "idea diagram," and everyone worked together as 15 teams consisting of students and corporate participants, including Fujitsu personnel. They further refined the concepts and ultimately collated their ideas.

Members talked together to further refine their ideas, creating prototypes using simple materials like colored paper and blocks. They created handwritten slides to clearly convey their ideas, as well as making cards that introduced products and services.

As this all took place at Fujitsu Forum, the final presentations were performed exhibition style. In front of the judges and other participants, each team highlighted the value of their original ideas, just as exhibition booth personnel highlight the value of the solutions they are exhibiting.

Jury Award given to a solution to share experiences remotely

In addition to Ms. Ishido, a senior expert from the Fujitsu Design Center, Mr. Kunio Tsutatani, also served as judge. After listening to each team's presentation, she won the Jury Award to the "Happy Mu - Happy Music -" team, who proposed a piano that allows remote duets and other shared experiences. This team was also selected for the Participants Choice Award, so they were double winners.

Mr. Tsutatani also chose the "Romantic Workshop" team, which presented a classroom that would promote children's awareness of social issues. He was impressed by their proposed use of augmented reality to revive Cambodia's environment, and the potential to share local conditions and impressions.

Jury Award winners, Happy Mu - Happy Music - (top) and Romantic Workshop (bottom)

More co-creation in future

Participants had the following to say in a post-event survey:
-"The processing of refining various ideas revealed new ideas I'd have never come up with by myself. I realized all over again how important discussing things is." (college student)
-"Honestly, I never thought we could develop so many new ideas so quickly, while having so much fun." (employee)
-"I think we should do this kind of activity more often in Japan." (employee)

Though the program was short, many team members felt they could experience co-creation in certain ways.

At Fujitsu, we feel the need to connect with many more people to create a richer future for society and greater value. Based on the power of co-creation activities, including the Ashita Lab University*, Fujitsu is promoting efforts to deliver innovation.

* Ashita Lab University is a co-creation project involving students currently enrolled at Ashita Community Lab, which researches emergent communications/media and is ran by Fujitsu. The program described in this article was created as part of Ashita Lab University.