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Thursday, June 4, 2015 - 4:00pm to Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 9:00pm

Understanding change. Leading innovation.

Selected work from the Strategic Foresight & Innovation (SFI) graduate program with student presentations in a Pecha Kucha.

Exhibition hours: Monday to Friday, 12 to 5 p.m.

Learn more about the Strategic Foresight & Innovation graduate program

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University 49 McCaul St.

OCAD U’s Strategic Foresight and Innovation students reach regional finals for million-dollar Hult Prize

Photo of M-sana team members
Photo of Yogya team members
Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - 4:00am

Two teams from the Strategic Foresight and Innovation Master’s program will compete the regional finals of the prestigious Hult Prize Challenge, known as “the Nobel Prize for students.” The annual event is the world’s largest student competition and start-up platform for social good with some 20,000 applicants from around the world.

In partnership with President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative, the competition identifies and launches social ventures that aim to solve the planet’s most pressing challenges. The 2015 Hult Prize will focus on providing sustainable, high-quality early education solutions to ten million children under the age of six in urban slums and beyond.

The regional finals take place March 13 and 14 in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai. One winning team from each host city will move into a summer business incubator, where participants will receive mentorship as well as advisory and strategic planning as they create prototypes and set up to launch and scale their new ventures. A final round of competition will be hosted by former US President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative at its annual meeting in September where the $1 million winning team will be selected.  

OCAD U’s Strategic Foresight and Innovation teams:


M-Sasa is a mobile phone-based solution using voicemail messages to connect working mothers who earn less than $3 a day with local community members who are able to provide early childhood education. Derived from the Swahili saying for “in the moment”, M-Sasa empowers mothers with unreliable incomes to find child care when they need it and for a fraction of the cost of current education offerings.

Team members:

  • Julie Sommerfreund: Policy specialist at Toronto Public Health with a background in environmental sciences and chemical engineering
  • Marta Scythes: Medical illustrator and educator
  • Kevin Morris: Strategic planning manager for a global manufacturer of sustainable building materials
  • Lorraine Randell: Visual communications designer with experience in education, graphic design, communications and environmental design
  • Sean Molloy: Director of Quality, Safety and Enterprise Risk at St. Joseph's Health Centre in Toronto

M-Sasa placed first at the official “Hult at OCAD U” competition, which the university hosted last fall. The team will go on to compete in the regional finals in Shanghai.


Yogya, the Sanskrit word for “worthy”, is a social enterprise shaped by the fundamental principle that every child is worthy of an education. It empowers young women from urban slums to educate children under age four, a critical stage in a child’s development before entering primary school.

Team members:

  • Ahmed Alazem: Certified Project Management professional
  • Christina Muia: Environmental consultant with experience in renewable energy, climate change, sustainable agriculture and source water protection
  • Jennifer McDougall: Leadership facilitator and public speaker with international business administration background
  • Mithula Naik: Ethnographer and industrial designer with an interest in developing products and services for specific cultural contexts while identifying unmet needs
  • Patrick Robinson: Community-focused design thinker with the goal of working with industry and educational leaders for social good

Yogya made it to the regional finals in San Francisco through online submission of their project.

The annual Hult Prize Challenge is the world’s largest student competition and crowd-sourcing platform for social good. The Hult Prize Foundation has been funded by the Hult family since it was founded in 2009 by current CEO, Ahmad Ashkar. To learn more, visit www.hultprize.org.

The Clinton Global Initiative 
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date, CGI members have made more than 2,500 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $87.9 billion.

Top image: Team M-Sasa

Lower image: Team Yogya

Photos by George Wang and Greg Van Alstyne

Research Rendezvous

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm

 This is a monthly lunchtime series for faculty to share and learn about research at OCAD U. This month we have two presenters, Richard Garvin and Nabil Harfoush. 

Presenter 1: Richard Garvin, Faculty of Design

Project Title: City VTOL Concept: Commercial Application in Urban Settings

Abstract: Ever been stuck in traffic? We all have and Toronto’s infrastructure pales in comparison to other large metropolitan cities across North America and the world. Not to mention cities that are growing with larger populations. In developing nations the growth of the middle class shows individuals and families aspire to own a car. Our collective growth is outstepping our ability or space for new roads or public transportation networks.  Commercial commerce is also as dependent on our road network; this includes delivery and transport trucks, first responders, anything essentially on wheels.  This project is inspired by Google’s concept to utilize small programmed drones to deliver books or carry size light objects.  Much the way society has benefited from innovations developed by NASA for the space program, we can do the same with selected military aviation.  The objective of this study is to utilize innovation currently in use and repurpose it to serve high density urban settings. This new craft has multiple role applications; it is what Chrysler did with the Mini-Van redefining a whole new category of transportation.  Presently, nothing like it exists. This innovative idea applies to scenarios on a global scale.

Presenter 2: Nabil Harfoush, Faculty of Design/MDEs in Strategic Foresight & Innovation (sLab)

Project Title: Strongly Sustainable Business Model Group

Abstract: How can organizations become sustainable in economic, social and environmental dimensions, and contribute to a new sustainable economy? Sustainability can be approached in many ways and from numerous perspectives. At Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab), the multi-disciplinary Strongly Sustainable Business Model Group (SSBMG) has chosen to explore sustainability from the perspective of business models. The SSBMG was founded with the objective of accelerating the transition of Small & Medium Enterprises (SME) to sustainability and providing a focal point for collaboration in applied research on this topic. SMEs form the largest majority of companies in all North American geographies.  The presentation will provide an overview of the various research streams of research within the group, results achieved and future plans.

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University 100 McCaul St. Lambert Lounge, Room 187

Causing An Effect

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - 5:00am to Saturday, January 31, 2015 - 5:00am

Exhibition of Changemakers, Uncertainty, and Images of the Future. Strategic Foresight and Innovation (SFI) student research project by Kelly Kornet. 

Causing An Effect explores how people transform into changemakers, overcoming uncertainty to lead active lives towards a preferred future for themselves and their communities. 

Opening Night

​​Wednesday January 28, 6 to 9 p.m.

Exhibition Dates

Thursday January 29, ​10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

​Friday January 30, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

​Saturday January 31, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University Graduate Gallery 105 Richmond St.
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Ryan Church nominated for Design Management Europe award

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 5:00am

Strategic Foresight & Innovation MDes candidate Ryan Church is celebrating the nomination of his company, BiomeDesign, for a Design Management Europe (DME) award. The DME award is the only international award dedicated to the management of design in private or public sector organisations. Church’s company was in the micro category, with nine employees or less.

The DME award recognizes the ongoing processes, business decisions and strategies that enable innovation and create effectively designed products, services, communications, environments and brands providing organizational success. From preparing a design brief for an external design consultancy to the complete integration of design in the business model; all such practices are different for every organisation but require appropriate design management to be successful.

BiomeDesign integrates sustainability and innovation with human centred design, foresight and biomimetic design in three areas of focus: energy, healthcare and society. Having recently successfully defended his major research paper at OCAD U, Church is hoping to pursue his PhD at MIT, and is currently working at the Design Innovation Group (DIG) in Amsterdam.

Strategic Foresight students' Remembrance project

Logo for Reset Remembrance Project
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - 4:45pm

Last year, four OCAD University graduate students in the Strategic Foresight and Innovation program were stunned to discover that 16% of homeless people on Toronto’s streets and in shelters served in the military. This spark led Kelly Kornet, Krittika Sharma, Ron Memmel and William Georg to spend weeks researching this issue to try to understand the struggles that veterans face after their release from the military.

This year the team is asking Canadians - and everyone else - to move beyond remembrance and to learn about the struggle veterans face when returning to civilian life.

The project attempts to inform and walk the public through the military journey in order to shed light on the reality of what military personnel experience in the field. The team has worked on a potential solution to help veterans transition back from military life to civilian life and provides a visual map that shows the journey of soldiers transitioning from civilian culture to military culture and back to civilian culture again.

The project and campaign can be accessed though:





Strategic Foresight & Innovation receives Canadian Race Relations Foundation recognition

Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 5:00am

OCAD University’s Strategic Foresight & Innovation (SFI) Master of Design program has received an honourable mention from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) Awards of Excellence for SFI’s “Designed Diversity” program and practice.

“Designed Diversity is a practice we developed in the SFI program — an intentional act of designing the diversity of our cohorts, faculty, curriculum content and its delivery,” explained OCAD University Assistant Professor Nabil Harfoush. “This practice is rooted in the recognition that in order to be innovative and to solve complex problems you need to maximize diversity in every dimension. It shifts the discourse about diversity from a moral/ethical imperative to a fundamental requirement for the success of any organization in innovation and renewal.”

The CRRF Awards of Excellence pays tribute to public, private and voluntary organizations whose efforts represent best practices in building awareness and understanding of Canadian values and identity that are reflective of Canadian diversity and respectful race relations. Best practices represent programs, strategies or initiatives that have demonstrated promise, success and social impact.

“We applaud the stellar work that is being done by all the organizations, as they strive towards the fulfillment of the Canadian values of respect for equality, diversity, inclusivity and belonging,” said Toni Silberman, Chair, CRRF Awards of Excellence Jury Panel.

The Awards of Excellence dinner will take place on November 18 at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. The Awards dinner is part of the Foundation's biennial symposium, which is dedicated to Canadian values, identity and belonging, along with the mutuality of citizenship rights and responsibilities.

The SFI program’s Designed Diversity Best Practice initiative will become part of the CRRF’s
ongoing program of building awareness and understanding of Canadian values and identity that are reflective of Canadian diversity.

View a complete list of CRRF Awards of Excellence winners.


Lindy Wilkins speaks. View more photos by Mark Bennett and Stacey Croucher on the TEDxOCADU website.
Patricia Kambitsch's graphic recording of Britt Wray's TEDxOCADU's talk.
Sacha Chua's sketchnote of Sara Diamond's TEDxOCADU's talk.

Miss the inaugural TEDxOCADU? The sold-out event, held January 19 in the auditorium at 100 McCaul, can be viewed as a series of visual recaps on theTEDxOCADU website. Sketchnote artist Sacha Chua summarized each speaker’s talk in hand-drawn synopses, while Patricia Kambitsch captured the talks as graphic recordings. Videos of the talks will be added soon.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, the independently organized TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) event was curated by Medina Abdelkader, an OCAD U MDes candidate in Strategic Foresight and Innovation, together with a hard-working team of 25 other coordinators.

“It was phenomenal to see everything come together the way it did,” says Abdelkader. “I’m so inspired by this group of people – the speakers, performers, emcees, visual recorders, organizers – who dedicated hours and hours of their time to put this together."

TEDxOCADU featured talks by Dr. Sara Diamond, OCAD U’s President, along with: Eric Boyd, Zahra Ebrahim, Trevor Haldenby, Alex Leitch, David Lewis-Peart, Mike Lovas, Andrew Lovett-Barron, Arianne Shaffer, Lukas Stark, Lindy Wilkins and Britt Wray. Abdelkader’s team worked with the speakers, workshopping their talks well in advance to prepare. “The amount of work the speakers put in to build their talks was nothing short of incredible,” she says

This year’s theme was “simplexity,” the delicate tango between simplicity and complexity representing the vulnerabilities and strengths born from increasingly diverse circumstances. Speakers were selected for proposals of big ideas with the potential to change the world. According to Abdelkader, these ideas reflect a shared human experience and resonate with audiences.

Delegates also had to prove themselves by applying to attend. To choose, Abdelkader’s team blacked out names and based decisions on thoughtful, meaningful answers. It came down to what each person said, not who they were, or their position in the university.

Along with the talks, the event featured performances by Melanon (musicians Lodewijk Vos and Joseph Murray together with singer Little Scream) and spoken word artist Quentin Vercetty.

TED is an international non-profit organization that started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago. It invites the world’s leading thinkers to speak for 18 minutes and broadcasts the talks free at TED.com

The TEDxOCADU team is already discussing how to build on their successes (and lessons learned) in coordinating another event for next year.

Ryan Church, Nihal Ahmed shortlisted in Ivey Business Plan Competition

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 4:45pm

A team composed of OCAD University Strategic Foresight and Innovation (SFI) students Ryan Church and Nihal Ahmed, and Schulich School of Business, Health Industry Management Program students Jason Lin, Dr. Justin Chopra and Srivatsan Vijayakumar, made it to the shortlist in the IBK Capital Ivey Business Plan Competition in January.

Over 50 teams entered the premier graduate student business plan competition, with 12 teams shortlisted. Entrepreneurial teams were drawn from top graduate schools across North America. The competition offers students an opportunity to present innovative business plans to potential investors, offering them an advance look at up-and-coming entrepreneurs and new ventures. 

Leveraging the existing Angel Sensor hardware, the team created Ripple Labs Inc. to develop their product, Circle of Love, a wearable, waterproof, medical band that tracks vital signs and statistics using Bluetooth and Smartphone technology. 

In addition to tracking vital statistics, Circle of Love also has an accelerometer for the purpose of detecting a fall, and a call function connecting the user with a loved one or a personal support worker.

The OCAD U SFI students focused on design thinking, horizon scanning and user flow, while the Schulich students focused on SWOT analysis and the necessary financials. While the they didn’t win the competition, the OCAD U/Schulich team received serious investment interest from one of the judges, and was honoured to be among the shortlist group.

The OCAD U/Schulich connected originally through an SFI/Schulich collaborative design challenge called Boomers to Zoomers:  Re-Designing Health Care for our Coming of Age, which kicked off in November, and proved to be the catalyst for the team’s concept. The team then fast-tracked product development in order to enter the Ivey Competition. The team is now focusing on their final preparations in the Boomers to Zoomers challenge, for which final designs will be revealed at an event on April 23 at MaRS Discovery District.

Graduate students win international recognition from Association of Professional Futurists

Thursday, June 26, 2014 - 3:30pm

Students from OCAD University’s Strategic Foresight & Innovation (SFI) graduate program picked up four awards at the Association of Professional Futurists (APF) 2014 Student Recognition Competition this month. Entries came from 26 universities around the world, including teams from Australia, India and Finland. The AFP represents professional futurists — people who study the future in order to help global corporations, small businesses, consultancies, education, non-profits and governments prepare for and gain advantage from coming changes.

The competition aims to recognize students who do outstanding work in futures studies. Associate Professor Suzanne Stein organized OCAD U’s student individual and team submissions, including work from both the SFI program and OCAD U’s Digital Futures program. The student work came out of the Foresight Studio, co-instructed by Stein and Assistant Professor Stuart Candy, as well as an Independent Study with Associate Professor Peter Jones. An international jury included OCAD U SFI graduate Zan Chandler (she was not permitted to review her Alma Mater submissions to avoid bias).

"A professional futurist studies possible, probable and preferable futures in order to help people understand, anticipate, prepare for and gain advantage from coming changes,” said Stein. “It is not the goal of a futurist to predict, but to assist others to understand their strategic options, in order to enable wiser decisions today."

Each student team was partnered with an industry ambassador or advisor to help ground the conversation in concerns, dilemmas and understandings that are critical to their industries today. Participation in this year’s competition builds on a new project in Foresight Studio called Time Machine, where students produce reports on possible future scenarios as well as create design-led, immersive simulations of selected stories for students, faculty, and community participants to explore.

APF Student Recognition Competition Achievements:

Graduate Individual:

Melissa Daly-Buajitti:
Towards a New Social Economy
(Second Prize)
Comparing the key functions driving social interaction within Twitter to exchanges of commodity and currency, Daly-Buajitti’s project proposes a framework by which to conceive of an emerging "social economy," and discusses the impacts such a format of socializing might have on our sense of self and interpersonal relationships.  

Graduate Team:

Zahra Ebrahim, Jonathan Hoss, Karen Maxwell and Shannah Segal:
Futures of Broadcast
(First Prize)
With the assistance of an industry ambassador from TVO, the team examined the potential evolution of Canadian public broadcasting over the next two decades.

Hilary Best, Jennifer Chan, Karen Oikonen and Lauren Snowball:
Futures of Foreign Aid (Second Prize)
With an ambassador from Engineers Without Borders, the team produced a detailed overview of possible futures for the foreign aid sector through the year 2040.

Alternative Format:

Melissa Daly-Buajitti, Mark Singh and Adam Starkman:
Futures of Affluence
(Second prize)
Core to this team’s project was “Nousopoly,” a new take on a well-known board game based on the dynamics of winner-takes-all capitalism, but redesigned to reflect a multiple-currency landscape in 2053. The team had ambassadorial input from Scotiabank.

“The Strategic Foresight & Innovation program has crafted a unique offering where design pedagogy and foresight practice meet. These awards demonstrate what a powerful combination that can be,” said Candy.