8 must-see sessions from the Disruptive Innovation Festival

This year’s Disruptive Innovation Festival has been underway for two weeks, and the online festival of ideas has been a veritable treasure trove of circular economy knowledge.

With its themes on 21st Century Economics, Future of Design and Age of Automation, as well as a dedicated playlist containing exclusive sessions on the circular economy, the DIF gives you the chance to get up to speed on the people and trends that are reshaping the economy.

The Circulate team has been tuning in to the daily livestreams, but even if you’ve missed any of the sessions so far, there’s good news. With the DIF on Demand feature, you can catch up on all of the mind-expanding insights. All you need is an internet connection. So we’ve picked some of our favourites from the first 10 days of the festival.

Don’t forget, there’s still one week to go and many more delights in store. Head to until the 24th November for more free, livestreamed events on the circular economy and beyond.

How to think like a 21st century economist

Read Circulate’s book review of Doughnut Economics

Kate Raworth’s book Doughnut Economics has been flying off the shelves since its release in April, finding its way into the hands of business leaders, policymakers, economists, and plenty of other curious people. The book busts through some of the long-standing fallacies of more traditional economics literature, and presents seven ways that we can level up our thinking to develop a new form of economics that’s fit for the 21st century.

This session should be mandatory viewing for circular economy enthusiasts and advocates. Kate tackles issues like growth, GDP, resources, and delves into the question of what our economy is actually for. Watch now >

Design in the age of digital

We know that we’ll need to harness the power of design if we’re going to make the transition to a circular economy. So we best keep up to speed with current trends in design, and understand where the discipline is heading in the future. Dr John Maeda says that ‘classical design’, which creates ‘perfect, crafted and complete’ products, is becoming a thing of the past. Having participated in design from many angles during a diverse career – including work at MIT, the creation of the ‘Laws of Simplicity’, Presidency at Rhode Island School of Design and now at startup Automattic – Maeda says design has now changed forever.

To have a meaningful impact in the 21st century, designers will need to move beyond aesthetic design’ and embrace the new frontier: computational design. Maeda says that this will open up new opportunities for design to truly change the world, from tackling inequality to improving our cities. Watch now >

Lewis Dartnell’s Short History of Technology

What would you need to know to rebuild the world after an apocalypse? That’s the question that Lewis Dartnell tackles in his book The Knowledge, and was hence the subject of a playful exploration in the DIF studio. Lewis shared his experiences in actually trying to recreate day to day essentials and the building blocks of civilised society.  Spoiler alert: it’s damned difficult, given the complexity of today’s technology and our dependence on it.

Check out this session to peer behind some layers of modern technology to help us focus on what we have accomplished through history, and why we need to reconnect with the technology around us today. Watch now >

Circular Design Case: Kick-off

A growing number of people think that ‘the next big thing in design is circular’. Earlier this year, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and IDEO released the circular design guide. It’s a freely accessible resource made up of 24 methods, case studies and activities that anyone can use to help them create and release new circular solutions. Since then more and more designers have been looking to the circular economy to offer inspiration, and this DIF session offers the ideal place to get started.

As well as discussing some of the circular design basics, the conversation with Simon Widmer and Alexandre Micheloud kicked off the first Circular Design Case. It’s a pretty simply challenge running over 10 days of the DIF, that invites you to rethink the system around an everyday product along the lines of a circular economy. You could win £1000 prize money, and there’s still time to take part. Watch now >

Read Alysia’s ‘Raw Intelligence’ series on Circulate. Photo credit: sierra2u via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC

The Biggest Revolution in 3D Printing is Yet to Come

Some of the buzz around 3D printing seems to have died down in the past year or so, perhaps as the novelty wears off for the masses, and the notion of having a Star Trek style replicator in every home remains well out of reach.

But Alysia Garmulewicz says the most thrilling and valuable applications of 3D printing are just around the corner, and it’s all about the circular economy. Lying at our feet are materials found at levels of abundance that dwarves the plastics, metals and alloys that we use. What’s more, these materials can be fed back into another cycle after they’ve been used. It could be a game changer for the circular economy. Watch now >

A Flow of Wealth or a Wealth of Flows?

In this beautifully shot and well-paced film, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Head of Innovation Ken Webster takes us through the circular economy story. Even if you think you know the basics of the concept, don’t skip this video.

Much circular economy discourse today focuses on materials, and it sounds pretty simple. A business gets its product back, repairs or remanufactures it and puts the stuff back into action. But Ken says it’s just part of the picture, and the circular economy offers a bolder and higher aspiration about how we can build an economy of abundance, based on the ideas of regeneration and restoration. Watch now >

Furniture That Changes to Fit Your Life

As well as ideas and concepts, every year the DIF acts as a platform for startups and market leaders alike to share how they’re putting new thinking into action. Early in week one, the designers behind STRATA took to the virtual stage to tell viewers about their flexible, modular furniture system. Katrine and Victor say that it’s a business model that suits a circular economy, keeping resources in play and offering a better experience for customers too. Watch now >

STRATA’s modular furniture design – watch the session on demand to find out more

New Definitions of Food Packaging in the Circular Economy

The recent New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize demonstrated that packaging is an area that’s ripe for reinvention. This session features three people who are showing why it’s a compelling innovation opportunity, all redesigning food packaging in completely different ways. There’s edible sauce sachets from Skipping Rocks Lab, bamboo bottles from PA Consulting, and a business model that could actually make reusable cups a possibility from CupClub. Tune in to get a glimpse at how we might be buying food in the future, and hear tips from the experts about how to unlock your own creativity. Watch now >

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