What if we could design services that contribute to a happier society? Student teams from design schools and universities worldwide dove into this challenge and worked for over 5 months using their creativity and skills to design people-centric and planet-positive services to safeguard wellbeing. The jury selected Carnegie Mellon University’s team Solace as the 1st prize winner of this 4th edition of the Student Service Design Challenge.
In January 2023, over 90 teams applied to the 2023 Student Service Design Challenge. After a rigorous selection process, 20 finalist teams received the outstanding scores needed to continue in the competition tasked with developing full-fledged service solutions using a structured double diamond approach.
This year, teams focused on improving individual, societal and planetary wellbeing, envisioning and designing services to enhance personal wellbeing and resilience as well as contribute positively to a collective happiness: among people, in our workplaces, schools, communities, cities and planet to ensure better lives for present and future generations.
The teams represented over 20 universities worldwide and 15 different countries. From China and South Korea to Canada and Chile, the 2023 competition spanned the globe, aiming to engage the next generation of designers in envisioning and creating people-centred services that improve and safeguard wellbeing. An essential aspect of the challenge is that teams must address issues within their local contexts, finding readily perceived solutions to existing problems in their surroundings.
The proposals put forward by the teams focused on improving the wellbeing of immigrants, mothers, bullied children, isolated elders, and people on the autism spectrum. The topics covered include palliative care, safety, nutrition, work-life balance, financial stability, and community building, among others.
After assessing all final submissions, the jury awarded team Solace from Carnegie Mellon University the 1st prize, team Balance from the Delhi Technological University the 2nd prize, and team Return from Pontífica Universidad Católica de Chile the 3rd prize. The jury also awarded an honourable mention to team Bond from University of Arts London for their innovative service concept. The Jury: “Our task was challenging because of the diversity of topics, approaches and results. We recognise the unique value and contributions in all the projects, and effectively, we believe all teams are winners, having taken wellbeing seriously and creating a happier society. Students have demonstrated they are catalysts for positive change and are confident all have a promising future in their creative endeavours. This has been a transformative experience and will echo in the present and future impact they will have in the lives of the people. The journey doesn't end here.”
Design Incubator prize (incl. EUR 3,000) + EUR 1,500 for the University
Solace - Empowering life’s transitions
The jury selected the service concept ‘Solace - Empowering life’s transitions’ from team Solace (Carnegie Mellon University, USA) as the Gold winner. Their prize includes a 10-week Design Incubator program to further develop their concept. Solace is a digital service supporting caregivers of terminally ill loved ones. It facilitates connections with care teams, provides personalised wellbeing toolkits, and fosters community networks easing their burden and empowering them throughout their caregiving and bereavement journey.
Team Solace: "We initially explored a lot of broad topics, but after taking time to mull everything over, we realised that we are connected on a deeper level. Our shared experiences with family members and close friends who have been caregivers sparked a personal connection. We all know how much caregivers often ignore their own well-being while caring for their loved ones. It became clear that the spotlight should be on the well-being of caregivers. We felt that this thought-provoking topic was both risky to tackle and the most fulfilling, if done right."
monetary prize of EUR 2,000
+ EUR 1,000 for the University
monetary prize of EUR 2,500
+ EUR 2,000 for the University
Sambhav - Financial wellbeing of slum dwellers
The Jury awarded the Silver prize to team Balance (Delhi technological University, India) for their service solution Sambhav. Sambhav aims to improve the wellbeing of ragpickers in Indian slums by providing upskilling,resources, and a supportive community. It offers reliable waste collection services to households, which makes waste procurement safer and consistent for rag pickers while creating a sustainable supply chain of materials for recycling companies.
Team Balance: "We were determined to ideate the best possible solution for improving the wellbeing of slum dwellers, and we planned to achieve this by keeping them in the loop while making decisions, making sure we listened to their voices and interests, putting them and their problems at the centre of our ideation process."
monetary prize of EUR 1,000
+ EUR 500 for the University
Case: Happiness - Collaborative learning for kids and their families
The Jury awarded the Bronze prize to team Return (Pontífica Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile) for their service solution Case: Happiness, a service with a collaborative learning methodology that provides teachers with resources to guide activities based on the concept of looking for happiness, inviting children to talk and interact with their families while working on social-emotional themes.
Team Return: "We are very happy and proud to have worked on a topic that we are passionate about and that is relevant in our context. We know that through design, we can contribute to the education of children in Chile from a much broader perspective than the traditional one, including the key actors who are their families in this experience. By doing so, we aim to have a closer impact, addressing topics that contribute to the well-being of both children and adults in their lives."
The following concept stood out exceptionally in at least one of the main Challenge criteria and deserved a special mention and recognition from the Jury.
Kangaroo - Play, connect, and explore
The jury awarded an 'honourable mention’ to team Bond (University of Arts London, UK) for their service solution Kangaroo. The Jury commends their ability to connect the dots, and tackle fundamental human needs by providing a service with resources that already exist. Their grounded research narrows down the locality and population of single parents, and proposes a solution that goes beyond the more obvious digital platform solutions and really contributes to people's wellbeing, both children and parents, within the urban environment.
Team Bond: "A demographic that is in particular danger of loneliness is single parents. We found that single parents are very likely to be lonely due to the combination of the life changes that parenthood brings, financial struggle and the stigma attached to single parenthood. All these factors make building satisfying relationships very challenging."
Prizes and recognition
The 4 students of team Solace earn a 10-week participation in the Design Incubator program to further prototype and optimise their concept plus a monetary prize of EUR 3,000 (+ EUR 1,500 for the University). During those weeks they will be mentored and supported by various experts from Challenge partners.
Silver and Bronze winners receive respectively a monetary prize of EUR 2,000 (+ EUR 1,000 for the University) and of EUR 1,000 (+ EUR 500 for the University). Most notably, the winning teams and their service design solutions will be highlighted and showcased online.
Proprietary rights - The Student Service Design Challenge is not liable for any copyright or trademark infringement on the part of the entrants and is not responsible for obtaining, protecting, or verifying any intellectual property rights relating to the submission material. It is the responsibility of the student design teams to use their own materials and designs, and clearly highlight references. They have been advised and required to obtain third party consents where required by law or by best ethical practices. If you discover that in the submitted materials and designs copyrighted items have been unintentionally used, we ask you to contact us by email. We will ask the concerning student team to delete those items.
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