Step one is empathy

What happens when you bring together innovators, funders, thinkers, doers, regulators, practitioners and academics and ask them to interrogate, deliberate and take the first steps to solving some of the big challenges of our era?

You get stories of lived experience, like Equality Rebooted Prize Entrant Francesca Fedeli who founded Fight the Stroke based around her experience of her baby son having a stroke and her family wanting to change the system to ensure others experienced better care than they did.

You get Professor Stuart Russell from University of California Berkeley outlining the possibilities and the challenges of harnessing the three quintillion GB of data we are generating every day.

You get PWC sustainability advisor Will Day speaking about how, with global growth being centred in cities, we should design our cities with our food needs in mind and the eight game changer applications for AI in sustainabilty.

And you get Paul Bunje from XPRIZE challenging us and reminding us that the first step in developing any prize is to have empathy.

How do we tackle today's biggest challenges?

I like to think that we do this by - being with people where they are. What I mean is, to truly understand how to tackle a problem we must first understand the problem from the perspective of the people we are trying to solve that problem for. We don't just do this through desk research, we must do this by being with people where they are as much as possible.

Paul Bunje put this more eloquently than I when he said that the first step for the development of any prize is having empathy. In any checklist that we develop as practitioners and programme designers, perhaps this should be our first checkbox? Have we demonstrated real empathy and have we captured the will and ambition of the people we are seeking to serve? What do you think? Would this be easy to do?

Tomorrow is the final day of the Challenges of Our Era Summit. We will be working together to form the basis of what we hope will be three new prizes in agriculture and food production, surgical equity and data for good. Join the conversation #OurEra2018.


Kate Sutton

Kate Sutton

Kate Sutton

Head of Corporate Social Innovation

Kate was responsible for managing Nesta's Corporate Social Innovation and Inclusive Growth work

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