Challenged with the task of “Bringing the Outside In,” our transdisciplinary group of students sought to find the benefits of nature and bring these to low-income communities. Working in the University of Bristol’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, we are a team of two computer scientists and one management student who have learnt about numerous innovation processes and sought to apply them in this project to achieve realistic and tangible results. Considering our brief throughout, we tried to co-design and involve many stakeholders in our process, and, with their participation, we believe that we have achieved an ideal solution.


 Initially, as we sought to understand the full extent of the brief, our team chose to explore the many benefits of nature. We investigated ideas that were practical, psychological, futuristic, and even emotional to understand how nature can be integrated into our day-to-day lives with more purpose. Shortly afterwards, we started looking for insights from Bristol community members and our peers to understand how people currently feel about nature and identify whether they are aware of its many benefits or not. It shocked us to discover that our peers “do not have time to help nature” considering that we, as human beings, are a part of nature ourselves. It was an inevitable finding, with the busy world that we live in engulfing our day-to-day lives with vast amounts of information, though the statement was almost comparable to saying that we do not have time to look after ourselves. Concentration on the growth of information and wealth has led us to disregard the environment that makes us human.

 Following this insight, we evaluated a range of ideas to settle on a “Natural Plushie” concept as a solution. It is an idea that informs children from low-income communities about the cycle of life, helping them to engage with the natural world in a new way, focusing on both the flora and the fauna. It would have a soft outer-shell that embodies an endangered animal species, such as the saola deer seen in our sketches, taking form as an attractive soft toy. Inside, there will be a thin inner layer with information to help the child understand the animal it has been engaging with, and within this layer there will be seeds that, when watered, will sprout a plant through the body of the toy. It could be planted in the original packaging, as we intend to create it with an aluminum structure so that it is reusable and recyclable, and the structure of the inner layer would biodegrade over time. Children may become more connected with nature after using this toy, adopting new responsibilities by taking care of a plant later-on into their childhood, and we hope that this will help them to become ambassadors for the protection of nature in the future. Parents would not need to worry about the time that they spend helping nature as their children will form a bond with the natural world.

Learn more about our team on the about us page, here.

Find out more about the University of Bristol's Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship here.