Building Institutions for Design Innovation

Building Institutions for Design Innovation

Mehmet Aydın Baytaş
Published on
August 10, 2021

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Design Disciplin proudly presents: We proposed the Building Institutions for Design Innovation panel at SXSW 2022 to discuss experiences in creating and growing institutions – laboratories, companies, policy initiatives, research programs, and more – at the leading edge in design, innovation, technology and creativity.

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Panelists Mehmet Aydın Baytaş, Timmy Ghiurãu, Dan Hill, and Esranur Kaygın will compare experiences spanning university labs, startups, and corporations worldwide, including Sweden, Denmark, Romania, Turkey, the US, and the UK. The focus will be on intersections of product design, frontier technologies, business innovation, research funding, and policy.

The debate will cover questions of:

  1. A full picture of the European ecosystem for research and innovation in design and technology today, and comparisons to experiences worldwide
  2. How startups, academia, corporations, and policymakers differ and harmonize in their approaches to design innovation
  3. Comparing European, American, and other ecosystems for design innovation to build on vicarious experiences
  4. Post-Corona implications and opportunities for innovation institutions: remote and distributed teams, unbundling academia, the creator economy...

SXSW uses an online process called PanelPicker to give a significant voice to the SXSW community in conference programming. The Building Institutions for Design Innovation panel has been proposed as a session for the 2022 conference. You can leave comments and vote on our proposal during Community Voting between August 10-26, 2021.

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Mehmet Aydın Baytaş

Dr. Mehmet Aydın Baytaş (@doctorbaytas) is a scholar, engineer, designer, strategist, and creative producer working at intersections of design and computer science; and host of the Design Disciplin video podcast.

Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, Mehmet began his research and innovation career on the inaugural team of Koç University's Design Lab, where he received the first graduate degree granted by the university’s brand new Design, Technology & Society program with his work on creating design and dev tools for AI-based gestural user interfaces. He then served as the founding coordinator of the Koç University – Arçelik Research Center for Creative Industries (KUAR), completed a Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD fellowship hosted by Qualisys AB, held a postdoctoral position at Chalmers University of Technology’s t2i Lab via a $1.5M research grant he secured, taught at the University of Gothenburg, and supervised research at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. He has degrees in mechanical engineering, economics, and design.

Mehmet has co-authored more than 30 research publications in human-computer interaction design, and research grants which collectively received more than $4M from state, non-profit, and corporate benefactors in Turkey and Sweden. Supported by his scholarship from the EU, he has visited more than 10 research labs in Europe, Canada, and Australia; adding breadth to his vision as an "academic entrepreneur" through experiences in diverse geographies and forms of institutions.

Timmy Ghiurãu

Timmy Ghiurãu (@itzik009) is a creative technologist who has been active in the worlds of music, fashion, media production, photography, game development, and most recently, automotive. A native of Romania, Timmy's creative and technological passions have led him to working with startups, research labs, and corporate innovation worldwide, chiefly in Denmark, Sweden, and the USA.

As Virtual Experiences Innovation Lead at Volvo Cars, Timmy's strategic vision was essential to formulating the company's Open Innovation Arena, which opened its doors in 2021: an incubator of dreams, a place where innovators, creatives, and technologists are coming together to paint the future they would like to live in. He focuses on creating spaces for collaboration with partners, students, and people across the company, where ideas are born, and visions are drafted to deal with the unknown.

Still a creative at heart, Timmy continues to perform and record music as a guitarist, and providing creative direction to avant-garde fashion designers. He loves to talk about visions, purpose and dreams. Building on his experiences, he invests in and advises startups.

Dan Hill

Dan Hill (@cityofsound) is a designer, urbanist, educator, and leader who integrates multiple industries, with a focus on the intersection of design, technology, and cities. Currently he is Director of Strategic Design at Vinnova, the Swedish government's innovation agency.

His previous leadership positions have produced acclaimed and influential projects, teams and organisations, ranging across built environment (Arup and Future Cities Catapult), education and research (Fabrica), government (SITRA), and media (BBC, Domus, Monocle). His projects take a holistic approach to multidisciplinary design, combined with an acute reading of everyday technologies and infrastructures. The teams and organizations he runs take a similarly multidisciplinary design-led approach, balancing vivid tangible outcomes with deep research and coherent strategy.

He has lived and worked in the UK, Australia, Finland, Italy, and Sweden, developing and delivering city strategy, urban development, and digital product design projects worldwide to clients like Google, Ericsson, Punkt, British Land, Lendlease, Heathrow Airport, University of Melbourne, HS2, the Victoria & Albert Museum, British Library, and city governments in Amsterdam, Melbourne, Stockholm, Manchester and London, amongst others. He is a Design Advocate for the Mayor of London, and a member of the Board of Trustees for Participatory City Foundation. He is a Professor at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Visiting Professor of Practice at UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, a Visiting Professor at Design Academy Eindhoven, and an Adjunct Professor at RMIT University in Melbourne. Amidst much published work in academic journals, books and media, his 2021 book Dark Matter & Trojan Horses: A Strategic Design Vocabulary was published by Strelka Press. He regularly speaks at major conferences and events, and has been writing about design, technology, cities and culture for over 20 years, lately at

Esranur Kaygın

Esranur Kaygın (@esranurkaygin) is Dutch-born entrepreneur and investor of Turkish descent who currently resides in Istanbul, Turkey.

Esra has studied commerce, economics, and management at Saxion University and completed her master's degree at NYU. In a decade of experience in the startup ecosystem as an investor, she has won many accolades and awards including Most Successful Investor 2015 in Istanbul, Turkey, and Most Successful Business Women of the Year for 2012 in Amsterdam, Holland.

Her 2019 book İnovasyon Mu Dediniz? ("Did Someone Say Innovation?") distills her experiences as an operator, advisor, and investor in frontier technologies into a definitive sourcebook on innovation for Turkish audiences.

You might also like...

Mehmet and Timmy in conversation (2020): the state of play in virtual experiences, teams and skills for the present and the future, merging artistic and technical competences, and more
Dan Hill speaking at TEDxGrosseto (2020) on the street as the basic unit of the city: a platform for regular and direct participation, responsibility, and interaction.
Esranur Kaygın speaking at Capital on Stage (2016) on investing in the Turkish innovation ecosystem

SXSW 2022 panel proposals are open for Community Voting between August 10-26, 2021. Vote now at:

Mehmet Aydın Baytaş

Mehmet Aydın Baytaş


Mehmet is the founder of Design Disciplin. He has been designing and building since 2005, and spent 10 years as academic computer scientist and design researcher.