Innovation Studio

Working with external partners, The Innovation Studio finds creative solutions to social problems. Our aim is to take an artistic approach to topics outside the field of art, such as education, healthcare and sustainability.

What does Innovation Studio do?

The Innovation Studio thinks beyond the arts. However, we do design our products and services from an artistic perspective. Along with regional, national and international businesses and organisations, we work on creative solutions to social problems – in the hope of really bringing about change.
We link the projects as far as possible to HKU’s education and research. For students, it provides a good opportunity to use their creativity outside the arts, and thus discover new professional fields.

How do we do it?

To solve social problems, it’s necessary to change behaviour. The goal of The Innovation Studio is to change users’ behaviour through user-centred design, by designing desired behaviour, stimulating intrinsic motivation or circumventing blocked perceptions. More and more often, Innovation Studio does so by showing a view of the future in ‘provotypes’; concepts that get users thinking and prompt discussion. The underlying idea is ‘Don’t talk about the future, but illustrate it’.​

Design thinking

The Innovation Studio uses design thinking, which is a collaborative process for gaining a better understanding of users and devising a product based on that understanding. This unusual design process focuses on users and involves them in the process at an early stage. By making inexpensive concepts quickly, and testing and improving them with users, risk factors in a project are removed as early as possible.

The Innovation Studio is part of the HKU Expertise Centre for Research and Innovation.


You can read more about projects by The Innovation Studio below.

Levenseinde coach (End-of-life coach)

Levenseindeboom helps people in the last stage of their life to answer difficult questions. Through indirect forms of communication, family, friends and carers are involved in subjects related to emotions, feelings and social dynamics.
Take a look at Levenseindeboom.

IRIS Smart Cities: Helping Utrecht towards sustainability

How can you inspire residents of Utrecht to lead more sustainable lives? This is the challenge taken up by staff, lecturers and students of HKU. In the coming years, they’ll be using virtual reality, games and ‘design thinking’ to inform citizens and encourage them to live in a more sustainable way. HKU is carrying out the project under the auspices of the European Commission.

Read on (pdf)

The mayor’s game

What do you do in a crisis situation? How do you take decisions? And can you stay calm? Mayors can practice these skills in the virtual municipality of Trouwveen. They learn to take decisions quickly, but also to discuss things with the police, aldermen and communications experts.


If you’re a student and want to use your creativity in solving social problems, you can contact Innovation Studio for advice, coaching or an internship, both during your studies and afterwards. This gives students the opportunity to use their creativity in a new way and to discover new professional fields.


If you have any questions about The Innovation Studio, get in touch with our coordinator:

HKU Innovation Studio
Ina van der Brug
(+31 (0)6 22 29 37 35)

Visiting address: Ina Boudier-Bakkerlaan 50 (kamer 0.04), 3582 VA Utrecht.
Postal address: HKU t.a.v. Innovatiestudio, Postbus 1520, 3500 BM Utrecht.