Design Thinking, Places

Innovation school in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

24 Aug , 2016   Gallery

All around the world people want to learn about innovation and design. Due to that schools are popping up everywhere. In Asia, a very inspiring innovation school is located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is called GENOVASI. Last week I had the great joy to come back to KL for a project. Consequently, I met my old friends from GENOVASI there. In this post I would like to share the fun of seeing what the Malaysian version of a looks like.

The set-up

GENOVASI has started with the aim of educating so called Innovation Ambassadors. These ambassadors are (young) business leaders and public officers who are supposed to learn about innovation and creative collaboration in order for their organizations to change towards more agility and creativity. An amazing effort – powered by the prime minister. The learning takes place in small teams of 4-6 people. These teams work on real life challenges to which they try to find human-centered and innovative solutions. The teachers at this school act as facilitators. They come from different disciplinary backgrounds and guide the teams through the fuzzy process of innovation.

The space

As you probably already know, for an innovation school it matters what the space looks like. The team at GENOVASI have done a great job learning from different institutions around the world such as the at Stanford university and the HPI School of design thinking. Even though they are located in a rather boring industrial area in Pataling Jaya close to Kuala Lumpur, the open architecture of the building gives them a lot of space to play around with. Because of this, anyone who participates in the program can really focus on the creative work.


A nice addon is the Artisan Coffee HQ across the street. They take coffee very seriously and serve good food as well. A very important ingredient for any location that wants to inspire innovation…

The offered programs

First of all GENOVASI offers a 20-day “Innovation Ambassador Development Program”. You can either enroll for the night- or weekend-class. It is necessary though that you are Malaysian and below 35 years of age.  Besides that they have several introductory concepts, such as a 3-day “Design Thinking Workshop”. As I heard from Firdaus Zulkifli their “project maestro”, GENOVASI is on their way to becoming a proper university. It will be interesting to see, what they will do with that opportunity. Additionally companies can book the space for their events.

How it all began

At the end of the year 2012 I had the great joy of helping the team setting up their innovation school. At that time I was working as a freelancer with the HPI Academy helping different companies and organizations to implement design thinking into their cultures and practices. Some team members and the director at the time, Carol Wong, came to Potsdam to learn from the HPI School of design thinking how to design the curriculum, the space and the organization as such. Together with other HPI D-School colleagues we wrote a detailed concept for the endeavor. In December 2012 we finally went to Malaysia. We did our version of an assessment center in order to find potential teachers. In January 2013 we did a five day train-the-trainers session. Shortly after that, they started taking in the first students.



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