FreeUp Insight

Investigate needs and opportities to set direction for change

Exploring new possibilities for growth expands the view, but it also means entering unfamiliar domains or markets and dealing with uncertainty. To get grip on the many unknowns, we investigate needs, issues and opportunities to set direction for change. We do qualitative and contextual research (sometimes referred to as design research or experience research). We do not just produce reports but we create insight tools that show the rich diversity of insights as well as the key conclusions. The stakeholders involved can get a good overview, are able to understand the dynamics, and get pointers to meaningful innovation opportunities in the new domain.




Trends research for strategy & roadmap development

From trends to scenarios to strategic plan

lange termijn huisvesting projectoverzichtThe city of Eindhoven needed to develop its long term office space strategy. We worked with a diverse team of about 30 people in the city government, involving them in the analysis of trends and the development of future scenarios, with the aim to answer two main questions: What will city government organization look like in 2020- 2030, and how will we work?

We validated and enriched the scenario directions through interviewing experts and pioneers. Based on the insights gained throughout the process, we helped the program manager draw the conclusions for the strategic plan. Click on the image to see an overview of the project activities (in Dutch).

 See more about the Scenario workshops we did in this project at the FreeUp Innovation page.

Research into people’s experiences


Contextual research in healthcare settings

or_researchWe are experienced in doing on-site research in hospitals and other healthcare settings. Contextual research may involve observing, shadowing, interviewing and interactive sessions with various stakeholders. We have done research in operation rooms, cath labs, intensive care, outpatient clinics and more. We study workflows and stakeholder needs in innovation projects for developing new medical equipment or environments for patients and staff; in the fields of cardiology, anesthesiology, neonatal intensive care, and others. Also, some projects were focused on giving input for hospital renovation and expansion. We typically investigate  activities and experiences of patients and staff, analyzing how these are influenced by the work processes, equipment and by the hospital buildings, the interior and the way the spaces are being used.

doing_hospital_researchDoing contextual research in hospitals requires skill and sensitivity. On the one hand we try to learn as much as possible about the people and their experiences; patients, their family members, nurses, doctors, support staff… everybody who is involved in the situation. We want to capture what is happening on photos and film. On the other hand we do not want to burden people with our presence, our questions and our camera’s. And we do not want to harm people’s privacy. Especially when people are vulnerable and go through pain, fear and stress.
Sometimes we coach researchers to work in hospital settings: working with each situation, adapting to continually changing schedules, tuning in fully to what is happening and sensing the possibilities as well as the boundaries for gathering insights and visuals.


Contextual research in other settings

research_schiphol_parkingContextual research can also be focused on other environments, such as event spaces, care homes, outdoor spaces and public places. We investigate experiences from different people’s perspectives and then we analyze which are the required ‘experience qualities’ for (re)designing the environment.

One example is research we did at Schiphol airport. We did a short investigation into the experience of travelers in the car park at Schiphol Airport. The insights – based on two days of observations and interviews – were used by Philips Lighting and Atelier LEK to make new Lighting concepts for Schiphol Parking.


Exploring how a theme/domain will develop

Sustainable buildings & smart procurement

spea_systemthinkingIn the European project SPEA (Smart Procurement European Alliance), we worked on “Mapping the ‘State of the Art of sustainable innovation and smarter procurement’. The SPEA project aims to accelerate the adoption of innovative sustainable technologies through smarter procurement, with a focus on energy efficiency within municipal buildings. City partners are Eindhoven, Birmingham and Barcelona.spea_logos
We did desk research and we interviewed experts from ASN Bank, BAM, beyond20:21st century stories, Cagerito, Nyenrode, NIBE, Strukton, TUE, and UNStudio. We considered the State of the Art not only as a list of technologies (existing, new and emerging), but also innovative business models and ways of investment and financing; taking into account how technologies can be developed, adopted and applied successfully, with a time horizon of 10-15 years.

With the SPEA project team of Eindhoven city we wrote the first SPEA report “Mapping the State of the Art of sustainable innovation and smarter procurement”.


We also supported the next SPEA work package, applying the State of the Art principles and enablers to the challenge of sustainably renovating the Eindhoven town hall and connected office tower. See more about this project “Sustainable buildings” at the FreeUp Co-Creation page.