Design Ecosystem Fellowships

The Design Ecosystem Fellowships are Future Observatory-funded awards for up to six researchers to map transformative design ecosystems in the UK. 

The aim of the scheme is to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of production systems that support environmental sustainability, circular economies and waste reduction – a process that is key to achieving UK and global net zero targets.

Meet the 2022-2023 Ecosystem Fellows

Anna Elessi

Bio

Dr Anna Alessi works as a Project and Communications Manager at the Biorenewables Development Centre in York. She holds an MSc degree in Biotechnology from the University of Lodz in Poland and a PhD degree from the University of East Anglia. As a post-doctoral researcher at the University of York, Anna worked on large research-led projects focused on bio-based technologies for bioenergy production in collaboration with national and international academic and industrial partners. At the BDC, she manages grant-funded and commercial projects, supports business development activities and communicates research across different stakeholders.

Project Summary

This project aims to map a circular ecosystem for the personal care industry in Yorkshire focusing on product design and sustainable packaging solutions. The fellowship will investigate those solutions, their commercial readiness and sustainability and incorporate those findings into the ecosystem design. The fellowship will map the paths for the producers and consumers on how the personal care products are made and remade circularly.

Material Cultures

Bio

Material Cultures are a not-for-profit organisation which brings together design, research and action towards a post carbon built environment. We work at the intersection of architectural design, engineering, systems thinking, digital technologies and material science.

Project Summary

Material Cultures are investigating the private and unmanaged woodlands of the UK which constitute over 40% of our woodland cover. Unlike public monoculture plantations, many privately owned forests represent an existing typology of mixed species plantation and regenerative growth. Through our fellowship we are mapping the origins of these woodlands and the construction materials which can be sustainably drawn from their ecosystems.

Michael Johnson

Bio

Dr Michael Pierre Johnson is a design researcher in the creative economy who applies design-led mapping and modelling methods as part of strategic and participatory engagement in regional, sectoral and sustainable development. His research centres on making the effects, viability and value of creative interdisciplinarity more explicit within complex collaborative contexts.

Project Summary

In November 2021, Glasgow hosted COP26. This led to an uptake in sustainability and nature-based initiatives in the city’s local enterprise eco-system, alongside development in the city’s sustainable design eco-system for social innovation, participatory design, and community-led development. This project aims to identify the roles design processes, education and agencies are having to facilitate sustainable development.

Jane Scott

Bio

Dr Jane Scott is a Newcastle University Academic Track Fellow (NUAcT) who leads the Living Textiles Research Group in the Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment. Her research is located at the intersection of textiles, architecture, and biology; exploring the potential to design with biology using textile fabrication processes. 

Project Summary

As a Design Ecosystem Fellow, Jane will be exploring the emerging BioTech ecosystem in the North-East of England through the lens of BioKnit, a biohybrid knitted architecture composed of wool, fungi and bacteria. This work will integrate technical and materials flows focused on local waste streams with the emerging regional biotech strategy to locate routes to circularity within this new field.

Enes Unal

Bio

Dr Enes Unal is a Lecturer in Circular Economy and Innovation at Cranfield University, Centre for Competitive Creative Design (C4D). He completed his PhD at Politecnico di Milano, School of Management on “Circular Business Model Innovation”. He also had industrial experience across several sectors including healthcare, agriculture, material technologies, design and built environment. 

Project Summary

Dr Unal will be conducting research on “Mapping the NHS Ecosystem for Sustainable Transformation of Healthcare Industry”. Consequently, he will help provida holistic view and enhanced understanding of interdependencies and structural tensions within the NHS ecosystem and demonstratthe opportunities and barriers for a more resilient and net zero healthcare industry.