Why Glasgow?

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At the Glasgow Olympic Games site with colleagues from Commonwealth Studies Conference
At the Glasgow Olympic Games site with colleagues during Commonwealth Studies Conference

Of all the cities in the UK, why on earth would I pick Glasgow? Why not London which is such a global hub with some key hospitals and organisations that have made enormous contribution to innovation, design and technology relating to child survival?

I had the chance to visit in 2013 as part of a Commonwealth Studies Conference. We had excellent access to this city which was a mercantile hub at the turn of the century, but fell into hard times as industry changed in UK. Today, it is a city that is rebuilding, and is strong like its people.

I was on the study tour with an eclectic assortment of leaders from across the Commonwealth. Three of the five countries with the largest proportion of child mortality are members of the Commonwealth and represented on the programme: India, Pakistan and Nigeria. Additionally, Sierra Leone is a Commonwealth member state with the highest rate of child mortality globally.

I was there not long after my brother was diagnosed with Leukaemia, and had just commencing his initial chemotherapy. I filmed the video below from Strathclyde University where we pad a tour through their research facility within the Public Health Department. Amazing people and exciting breakthroughs. It was stuff my brother would have loved, and taps into an important aspect of child survival which is combatting disease.

Strathclyde University is an old institution with impressive fresh thinking which is being recognised globally for their ability to steward entrepreneurial and innovative thinking. Additionally, Glasgow boasts a strong tech-med community with global reach. The answer to child survival is not going to be found in medicine, but public health is a broader discipline which probably bests describes the arena where the question: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?” can be mapped.

IMG_4813The conversation will unfold in London before leaving the UK in April next year. Save The Children originates from London, and there are many best-practice hospitals in London that focus on child and maternal health. Additionally, London is a place where ideas thrive.

It is my intention to convene the Design Forum in Glasgow and London in April, straddling the Skoll World Forum to be held in Oxford. I attended the Skoll World Forum for many years in its early days since 2005 when it was free to attend by invitation. The conference has changed a lot since then, and has gained profile but maybe lost something by becoming a little exclusive in some regards.

Gathering people and coordinating the conversation for the Design Forum will be challenging, but is not impossible.

Design Thinking with colleagues in Oxford
Design Thinking with colleagues in Oxford

The Design Forum that will be held in UK will frame the conversation going forward after the initia hackathon which is to be held in Osaka in February, then a Design Forum in Port Moresby to get a better understanding of the problem itself.

Glasgow, Oxford and London will be important opportunities to bring important ideas into questioning ‘how might we’ improve the delivery of child survival. There is a lot of experience and workable ideas to benefit from. There is a lot of information. It won’t be easy, but it is important.

This is essentially why the running stunt is required. It is a very long way of going about building a conversation, and a way of threading together cities that otherwise have little in common of this issue of child survival. The discussions don’t have to be huge, but they will need to be effective. Making this happen will be the biggest challenge yet and will need the collaboration from many.


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