COCOON ACCELERATING THE GREEN TRANSITION
COCOON AIMS TO MAINSTREAM BIO DESIGN METHODS BY DEVELOPING BIO DESIGN MODULES FOR, STUDENTS, SCIENTISTS AND DESIGNERS
CoCoon is a strategic alliance that combines research on biology, education, bio-design and innovative infrastructures to contribute to the second priority of the ERASMUS+ Forward looking projects: supporting education and training systems to adapt to the green transition. The green transition resonates with the consortium as a shared mission that brought the CoCoon alliance together. Each striving to implement green practices into education and innovation systems is the common denominator within the alliance.
CoCoon aims to structure ground-breaking bio-fabrication methods into comprehensive learning modules. These bio design skills will be transferred 1)across countries and 2) between different target groups 3) between sectors. Thereby bridging education, science and industry. To sustain this transfer CoCoon will cooperate with decision makers and key stakeholders to impact policies for the green transition. Thus in "The CoCoon" novel bio-design skills can mature into sustainable practices for a green transition.
The CoCoon approach is to empower learners to become agents of change. Bio-based prototyping competencies enhance problem-solving skills, creativity and agency, crucial skills in a rapidly changing world. Cocoon offers opportunities for learners to actively contribute to the green transition and take action for an inclusive, environmentally sustainable society. To accomplish climate neutrality, motivation for green action must go hand in hand with skills that allow us to take action, tools that make the actions possible and last but most importantly: creativity!
Establishing a shared language and understanding of the terms and concepts of biodesign is foundational for cross sectional growth of the field. The Cocoon project is creating an overview of established terms and definitions.
William Myers popularized the term “Bio-design” as a novel and potentially unconventional approach to design. Bio-design draws inspiration from biological principles, and, unlike Biomimicry or Cradle to Cradle, it goes beyond mere imitation or sustainable practices. It actively incorporates living organisms into its design processes or dead biomass that was once a living organism itself.
It involves designing with, from, or for biology itself.
Educational community infrastructure for bio-design needs to be established so that educators and learners can impact the green transition. The first target is to use this experience to construct a scalable education package for green bio-design skills and work with bio construction materials. In bio-design, infrastructure tends to be fragmented between various institutions, where access to digital manufacturing equipment is housed separately from bio-fabrication infrastructure. The threshold for implementing bio-design into institutions must be much lower.
Here, Fab Labs are a viable asset; they contain digital fabrication and prototyping equipment. Implementing bio-design infrastructures and skills into fab labs would allow the twin green and digital fabrication skills to grow symbiotically, each supporting the other.
CoCoon aims to use Bio-Design skills to foster innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurial skills. The main focus is developing green skills and bio-design competencies. There will be a high focus on "learning by doing" supported by bio-design modules and recipes. The project aims to enhance green prototyping skills in our learners effectively using digital technologies. All training manuals and educational materials will be open access and publicly available. The CoCoon manuals are intended to provide the seeds of change for a green transition and hopefully reach the makers of Europe and beyond.
Open workshops, such as Fab Labs and maker spaces, offer unique opportunities to accelerate bio-based innovation. Primarily situated in educational institutions, they support a large community of innovators, learners, motivated makers and solution seekers from the industry while reaching out to the public and supporting entrepreneurs. This vast network of labs can stimulate the mainstreaming of bio-based solutions by reaching professionals and updating their skillset towards more sustainable methods. CoCoon will incorporate design courses and educational programs for higher and vocational education. CoCoon will focus on lifelong learners often defined as "makers". These professionals could be working as designers, carpenters, engineers and teachers.
The core of Fab Lab is to enable invention by providing access to tools for digital fabrication via a global network of local labs. The labs have an evolving inventory of core
capabilities to make (almost) anything. Fab Lab is an open well equipped prototyping facility. To allow bio-design to take place we believe that a bio fabrication inventory should be accessible within fab labs and educational institutions.
CoCoon will structuralize these methods and tools needed for BioDesign as a standard BioFab inventory. Schools and fab labs striving to build capacity in the field of bio-design could easily add a BioFab inventory into their facilities. Providing this global network with learning pathways on bio-based fabrication would allow the network to expand towards sustainable fabrication.
Strategically implementing policies is vital for the growth of bio design mainstreaming bio design methods. The Policy Observatory will monitor knowledge transfer constraints, the infrastructure needed and the barriers related to the innovative biodesign products, translating into policy recommendations. This should be achieved through three main actions:
● Mapping related policies and stakeholders – policy makers, teachers/trainers, makers, learners, entrepreneurs;
● Developing and Validating proposals through participatory processes involving the stakeholders;
● Transferring resulting policy propositions through recommendations and workshops with policy makers.
CoCoon identifies novel biology, biotechnology and biofabrication concepts with design potential and synthesizes them into educational materials for university education, VET / Upper secondary education and Life wide learners.
The CoCoon consortium has a special emphasis on transferability of the Bio-Design methods into schools, universities and open maker spaces. The bio-design modules are intended to spark safe experimentation in bio-design and engage learners to actively participate in bio-design. The bio-design modules will be piloted in european universities, upper secondary schools and Fab Labs.
Courses on bio-based designs, will be systematically implemented into the learning environments of each partner. The bio-prototyping modules provide flexibility for life wide learners to take up skills at their own pace, not requiring them to complete a full bio design course. Bio-prototyping modules can therefore cultivate green skills in the maker community and expand maker skills towards sustainable practices. The CoCoon bio-design modules will be open access to allow the project to influence makers far beyond the consortium.