Scotland Reverse Mission: Day 2.

Today we headed to Dundee.  Despite the rain we had again a very exciting day and for sure we learned something new about Scotland. Highlights of the day: Discovery Center full of unreal scientific machines, the playground of Scott&Fyfe and dinner with Mr. Toni Dedeu, knowledge exchange and research director of the Digital Health & Care Institute (DHI). Check the article to find out what the districts visited today!

Despite its small size, Dundee has a lot to offer and many ambitious projects going on. The city developed around the harbour in the 11th century. Water has always been an economical catalyst for the city; now Dundee counts 143,000 inhabitants and in 2014 it was the UNESCO nominated city of Design.


Our first stop was the Discovery Center for Translation and Interdisciplinary Research, at the University of Dundee. It is a internationally rewarded life science facility. Its purpose is to create collaboration between laboratory experimentalists, computational biologists, biophysicists and software development in order to translate basic science into societal impacts. We had a chance to visit their lab and it looks space age!


Remarkable was the notion of bioinformatics: how computers can help managing biological data.  The center set up a software development team with people from different IT backgrounds. Their job is to develop computer-based method for collecting data and understanding complex biological systems.


One of the key focus of the center’s research group is on proteins. One of the projects is about identifying cancer cells based on their weight. A healthy cell that becomes affected by cancer will change its properties and its weight. At the center they have highly sensible scales (the ones in our kitchen would not work apparently) to measure the shift of weight in the cell when it gets affected.


At Abertay University we listened to three presentation. Professor Gregor White, head of School of Arts, Media and Computer Games talked about the Dundee’s game industry history and how Abertay University was the first offering gaming courses.

Gillian Easson is the director of  Creative Dundee. This network is independent but works closely with Edinburgh Creative. It covers the role of facilitator and connector of the cultural and creative ecosystem of Dundee. They are able to understand the value of each key player and through the organization of different activities, stimulate synergy between creative business of different nature. Inspiring points from Creative Dundee: Make/Share is a free monthly event organized by Creative Dundee and Dundee MakerSpace. It’s open to anyone who makes things (like artists, developers, designers, scientists) that gather together and have a talk about what they made and the process they went through.

Sanitarium is a serious game created by the collaboration between a students from the School of Arts, Media and Computer Games at Abertay University, a team from the Infection Group at the University of St Andrews and industry partners Microsoft. By combining gaming design techniques and mathematical model, this serious game prototype aims to educate young doctor-players about the diagnosis and treatment of Tuberculosis (TB). The aim of the game is to raise awareness about the danger of Tuberculosis, educate young doctors about the known treatments and raise money for researching into TB. The player empower the role of a doctor that choose a patient from certain area where the disease is still a major threat. 


Due to the characteristic Scottish weather, we had a variation from the original program. Instead of strolling throughout the waterfront area, we attended a presentation and had the possibility to observe how the waterfront will look like in 2020 with Oculus Rift.
Scotland devoted 2015 to celebrate food and the program of the Reverse Mission was built around the concept of a dinner where Dundee represented the main course. Despite this, at lunch time we were served unhealthy snacks. I think that a central focus of social innovation is bringing more consciousness to what we ingest. In this service society there is more and more detachment between the process behind the food we eat and the service we received. I was pretty amazed by the very little attention devoted to the quality of the food and to grass-eaters like me (and many others from the districts!).


The bus then took us to the historical textile company Scott&Fyfe. Designing and producing technical textiles has always been at the core of the company for over 150 years. Michaela Millar, business development officer, told us about how Scott&Fyfe went through a process of innovation to survive in this competitive world. Key points are the transformation of the company from family ownership into employee owned enterprise. This shift occurred in 2012 and it was important in strengthening the commitment of employees and their involvement in the innovation process.  “Employees are interested, motivated and forward looking!”. Obsessive communication. Minimization of costs and time of failures, visualizations of EVERYTHING are the lessons learned by the company for being so innovative.

While the representatives of each delegation were discussing highly transparent creative businesses,


the other delegates attended a workshop in the PODS. The focuses were on how to embed an effective culture of collaboration and exchange of best practices between Dundee and the Districts. Based on their favourite color, the delegates divided in groups and spread through the beautiful playground of Scott&Fyfe.


Here are some the ideas we came up with:12179936_10207651131137566_592089513_n

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To conclude the day, some members of the Brabant delegation went to dinner at Edwin’s “old” friend, Mr Toni Dedeu, knowledge exchange and research director of the Digital Health & Care Institute (DHI).  The DHI aims to track, manage, and improve the health of Scottish population. It wants to reduce inefficiencies of healthcare delivery, improve access, reduce costs, increase quality. The DHI is formed by a mix of health, design, technology and business knowledge from private and public sector, higher education, Thank you Edwin Mermans!

Looking forward to our dessert in Glasgow!


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