August 21, 2017

Marco Polo incubator

The program in a nutshell

Marco Polo Incubator is a cross-cultural education R&D Lab for new impact programs, resources and activity formats.

Why Marco Polo Incubator? 

What type of activities and programs will best support positive learning outcomes in culturally and linguistically diverse settings?  Schools, universities or government bodies focus on academic disciplines, administrative matters, and risk prevention – but fall short of fully supporting general well-being, agency, emotional resilience. Incubators, student groups and communities do bring diverse people together, but often fall short of high-quality facilitation design, and don’t fully take into account the challenges of language and culture – resulting in sub-optimal interactions during events.

This is the place where Marco Polo Incubator aims to make a contribution. Marco Polo Incubator exists to systematically research new cross-cultural education activities and programs where specific needs are identified.

What is Marco Polo Incubator? 

Marco Polo Incubator is the R&D wing of Marco Polo Project. Marco Polo Incubator runs two parallel strands. We opportunistically trial new activities with partners, and systematically explore new impact programs where we see opportunities. New programs are incubated on the basis of a rigorous and systematic design thinking process, involving a dedicated team of designers working with an incubating partner. The process typically runs in three steps.

  1. Clarify the problem and develop a prototype
  2. Run an initial pilot with a partner organisation
  3. If the pilot is successful, explore the best ways for scaling.

What are the outcomes? 

Marco Polo Incubator has three distinct types of outcomes:

  1. new scalable impact programs are developed, each addressing a specific need for a specific group in a specific context.
  2. new activity formats are developed, which can be adapted to a range of diverse contexts.
  3. participants in the process – designers, partners and participants in the pilot – build capacity, relationships and a deeper understanding of language and community engagement. This is achieved even if the program fails.

Where are we now?

Marco Polo Incubator has been formally running since 2016, and resulted in the development of three complete programs – Design for Diversity, Out of the Box and Switch-on. More broadly, Marco Polo Project has experimented with new facilitation models and event formats since 2013.

What next? 

We are consistently looking for opportunities to trial new forms of activities and identify needs for new impact programs. If you would like to pilot something with us, please contact us!