Meet one of the key people behind Asia's Biggest Event for Young Changemakers and Creative Entrepreneurs MaD Asia: Rachel Chan

30th Jan 2012
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From January 6th to 8th, I attended the Make a Difference (MaD) Forum in Hong Kong. Organized by Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture and co-created by service design consultancy Innofoco, MaD is the biggest event of its kind bringing almost 1,200 young changemakers from all across Asia together. I caught up with Rachel Chan, who as the cofounder of Innofoco is one of the key people behind the event to learn more about MaD Forum.


After spending 15 years of her career working with the public sector, first with Hong Kong government and then the trade body called Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Rachel decided not spend the next half of her career in a public sector organization but had no idea what she wants to do. So she took a break to study at London Business School for one year. While in London, she was introduced to service design. Back in HK working with the trade council, design was always limited to products, fashion, architecture, and manufacturing but never services.

“When I was in London I met a lot of amazing service designers. Basically service design combines a design company with strategy-consulting, providing innovative solutions to service delivery, from strategy, process to touch points. You need to combine different skill sets and work with people across various disciplines. When I came back to HK, I realized that despite being an economy which is very service oriented similar to India, we hardly had anyone doing service design. It was an alien concept in this part of Asia” says Rachel. “I decided that I should create a market for this, create a new paradigm on designing for services. This is how Innofoco was born.”

When she set up Innofoco, she set out with a very clear vision – She wanted to promote creativity and innovation as she thought they were key to her business and society at large.

4 yrs ago, at a dinner meeting sitting next to creative education guru Sir Ken Robinson who happened to speak at HK design education forum, Rachel was talking to him about the lack of an innovation centric culture in Hong Kong and he advised her to pursue what she was doing as there was definitely a need, since no one was doing what she was doing.

“He said if you want to promote creativity and innovation, you should start with young people as these people won’t have any baggage and will be receptive. This idea sort of stuck with me. I have always been following TED talks and have been inspired by them. But it is not easy to be part of TED conferences. I thought maybe we could also have a platform to promote creative and interdisciplinary learning in HK for young people. I was looking for partners and we partnered with HKICC and we got sponsorship from HK government through Create HK” adds Rachel on how MaD was born.

MaD is a novel collaboration – public, private and non-profit sectors coming together. It has been growing each year with more cities being represented. In the coming years they hope to have more young Indian and South Asian changemakers taking part. “Going into the future, we need more people to realize their dreams, to take action. We want to facilitate collaboration by providing a platform for various people to interact and work with each other. This is our major opportunity and challenge” adds Rachel.

Other than co-organizing MaD, Innofoco provides consultancy services related to design, innovation and branding. They are also a think tank and do research for the government and public sector.

“We are very interested in collaborating with likeminded people outside HK. The future is in Asia and we need to work together. We

want to encourage people from various Asian countries to take part in the MAD forum. We get support from the govt because they see MAD as a channel to showcase HK as a destination for young, creative, entrepreneurs and we want to use MaD as a platform to showcase that” adds Rachel as parting message.Click here to find out more about MaD and click here to visit Innofoco website.

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