Innovation Lab

Design Thinking for Socially-Relevant Innovation

We invite you to join our ‘learning-by-doing’ lab, focused on getting things done for a project that matters.



Course Level
ECTS credits
Course location(s)
Utrecht, The Netherlands


We see an increase in the need for socially relevant innovation: to boost our networks, activate our communities, and contribute to a healthier society. We aim to change the way you look at the world in a more opportunity-oriented and less problem-focused way. Enter Design Thinking: a creative, holistic, multidisciplinary approach based on strong fundamentals where co-creation takes central stage. To achieve this, we have set-up the innovation lab.

The didactical approach of this course may be quite different from what you would expect from a traditional module – with lectures with a written exam in the end. Instead, together with designers from the work field and an actual real-life client, we will guide you through a meaningful and valuable experience. 

During this module, you will visit and work with a real-life client and help them to innovate by focusing on user-experience and the merits of co-creation. You will learn by doing and explore different perspectives, while in the meantime being offered important academic insights. Our goal is to create an innovation experience for you with all of the pressures and demands of the real world. The module will help you integrate your current knowledge with new insights, step out of your comfort zone and develop the mind-set, agility and resilience one needs in today’s dynamic world. During this learning experience, you will receive intensive coaching from experienced coaches as you apply best practices to co-created innovation and service-design. 


The course is offered in collaboration with: Fundamentals Academy.


NB: This course is also part of the combined 5 weeks track Innovation in European Business and the 6 weeks track Innovation in European Business XXL 


What previous participants (summer 2023) say about this course

"This course included a lot of practical learning. We went on the streets to conduct interviews and collect data. I appreciated the coaches’ assistance with this endeavour, which included training us on how to communicate more effectively. It was a wonderful experience and I definitely learned a lot."

"The working methods, centered around listening and understanding, allowed us to approach the topic in the most appropriate way, enabling everyone to get to know each other and making this project a true success and potential path for development. In addition, the involvement and enthusiasm of the coaches allowed an optimal integration to assimilate the subjects."

"I’m very happy to share that I had the opportunity to have this exceptional experience at Utrecht Summer School - HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and I’m thankful for the project team and coaches who contributed to making this adventure a unique and unforgettable experience."


B28 day-to-day Innovation lab 2024.pdf

Target audience

Students from all kinds of backgrounds (from Design, Business, Communication to Engineering, etc.) who believe innovation is key and who are curious to learn more about creative approaches to innovation and development of services in the (near) future.

A sufficient level of English language proficiency is required (at least B1).


Aim of the course

To provide students with an understanding of a design thinking approach and the application of innovation in a socially -relevant context. On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • Explain experience of situations from a user’s perspective;
  • Understand and apply a design process;
  • Use design thinking to develop innovative interventions;
  • Propose coherent strategies for designing interventions in ways that bring truly radical improvements from a user’s perspective.

If you are pursuing a specific learning goal, please reach out to ensure that we will meet your expectations.

Study load

105 hours of lectures/field excursions + assignments (including self-study).


  • Course fee: €890.00
  • Included: Course + course materials
  • Housing fee: €450
  • Housing provider: Utrecht Summer School

The course fee presented applies to all students currently enrolled in a bachelor, master or PhD programme and to 'Fresh Alumni'.

If this applies to you and you therefore believe that you are eligible for this fee, please include this in your motivation when applying for this course.

If not, the professional fee of €1115 is applicable, and will be invoiced and visible for you in your account once you are accepted to the course.

Please note: if you do not provide proof that you are currently enrolled in a bachelor, master or PhD programme or a  'Fresh Alumni', we will charge the ‘professional (higher) fee!

Additional information

The housing fee includes € 50 for the USS sleeping bag and pillow which you can take home (small and light package) after the course. If you do not want to buy the USS sleeping bag, please notify us and we will give you a discount on the housing fee. In that case, do not forget to bring your own bed linen and pillow! In all cases, do bring your own towels, please.