CoCreating for Inclusivity and Innovation

IBK Fellow Shiroq Al-Megren spent her fellowship year at MIT learning from family caregivers and social workers to map the caregiving journey and identify "pain points" that could potentially be augmented by technology. She found a home for her research in Prof Maria Yang’s Ideation Lab which focuses on the theoretical foundations of early stage processes. Her focus on designing for and with people who are often overlooked led to several collaborations, including the CoCreate KSA fellowship

The CoCreate KSA fellowship is a cooperative of individuals, organisations and institutions in Saudi Arabia empowering citizen inventors and persons with disabilities to work together and develop new and innovative assistive technologies (AT). The fellowship is part of the Humanistic Co-Design Initiative, which was founded by Dr Kyle Keane, a lecturer and research scientist from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Shiroq partnered with Dr. Areej Al-Wabil, another former IBK fellow from the Ideation Lab, to bring CoCreate to Saudi Arabia. In January 2020, the first CoCreate Selection Workshop in Riyadh brought together local citizen inventors from a variety of backgrounds, people living with disabilities and MIT research scientists and students. Teams continue to develop the ideas generated during this first gathering.

CoCreate immerses local students, entrepreneurs, clinicians, and practitioners in the humanistic co-design process for the identification, documentation, and prototyping of early-stage innovation in AT projects under the mentorship of MIT research scientists and students. The CoCreate fellowship is focused on empowering local designers, makers, and engineers as “citizen inventors” to collaboratively develop new AT alongside local people living with disabilities.

The CoCreate fellowship has the ethos of empowerment and advocates for users with disabilities as experts to their lived experiences by emphasizing their perspectives on par with those of the citizen inventors. The program engages thought and action leaders to work directly with CoCreate Fellows and scholars to better understand the complex processes involved in taking innovation beyond invention to address AT challenges specific to Saudi Arabia's social-cultural context. 

The program was organized by the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Lab in partnership with MIT's Ideation Lab. Sponsorship and support for the CoCreate program were also provided by the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property (SAIP) via hosting the CoCreate Selection Workshop in January 2020 and by the Saudi Health Council via mentoring services provided by the National Lab for Emerging Health Technologies.​