The power of creating new narratives across sectors

by | Sep 6, 2017 | Paris Lab |

Experimentation is at the core of what PLACE does. So what if we take this approach a step further: what happens when you bring together existing partners (Meridiam, Mairie de Paris, Generali, BMW Foundation etc) and combine them with bloggers, journalists and influencers from the public, private and civil society sectors, including leaders from GDF-Suez, the American Congress and Embassy, Air Liquide etc and put them in a PLACE lab experiment scenario? Will it leads to the creation of a new and dynamic collective called PLACEmakers, doers whose vision is seeing Europe become a place where migrant-led innovation happens naturally?

Welcome to the inaugural PLACEmakers event (or experiment) which took place earlier this year in the heart of Paris, at PLACEmaker Sismo Design Agency’s base in Le Marais. A day of immersive PLACE lab-type activities that led to many shared and intense dialogues around the challenges faced by migrants and refugees coming to Europe, but how these challenges all represent not a crisis for Europe – which tends to be the message put out – but an incredible opportunity. Or as Patrick Hoffman – The Human Safety Net (Generali)  puts it: “to rekindle the flame and start moving Europe ahead again – with increased dynamism.”


The challenge set out by PLACE for this event was to enable the emergence of a powerful new narrative around migration and its potential for innovation, one that would emerge from the practical collaboration between different sectors, and be shared by the influencers from these sectors. The approach was the same approach that PLACE takes in its pop-up labs for migrants and refugees (PLACE Innovators): exploring the challenges that Europe faces through the mirror of a new set of actors, innovators and influencers – to see what emerges and can be reflected back.


“More integration leads to greater prosperity, so I really think that building bridges and having close exchanges and an increasing diversity will make not only make Europe stronger but also the entire world.”


Armin Pialék, PLACEmaker, BMW Foundation

Building bridges between communities has always been central to PLACE – fusing migrants, refugees and civil society together in creative experiments to develop innovation projects that tackle a range of society’s problems. The problems are seen with fresh eyes by the newcomers to the society, who come with a rich diversity of skills and knowledge and who therefore offer new insights, approaches and solutions. All this can be energised, channeled and shaped through PLACE labs into concrete services and products.


“Opportunity and innovation are born out of diversity, collective intelligence and trust between people and cultures. What is often missing is the place to do that. So I do think the PLACEmakers collective is pretty remarkable in that it creates a place where all of this diversity can come together.”


Martin Calnan, Ecole des Ponts Business School


As Lev Turner, Policy Advisor and one of the PLACEmakers at the event explains: “This collective provides an entry point for new perspectives in the way that people think, adding a more positive lens to some of the fears that people might have and the challenges that people see.”

And so … Mission accomplished! Seven hours later the PLACE experiment was concluded. An incredible room-full of actors across sectors, a highly energetic day of hands-on innovation workshops and, from the participants’ words, many moments where they reached a new level of complicity and practical collaboration around the construction of this new shared narrative, across sectors and walks of life.

Key insights from the day included:

  • migration is an incredible source of wealth, sharing, diversity, and a source of opportunity – rather than a problem to be solved.
  • greater integration of newcomers to Europe can only lead to increased prosperity, which will make both Europe stronger and the entire world stronger as a result.
  • the costs of ignoring the potential opportunities that migration present could be very high, both in terms of economy, civic unrest and social disintegration, in the short as well as longer terms.

PLACEmakers, apart from being regularly present at labs with PLACE Innovators, will reconvene this autumn to continue experimenting and co-constructing.

Not already a PLACEmaker? Be sure to join us in the conversation to write the next chapter! The door to the collective is always open.

PLACEmakers /pleɪsmeɪkə(r)z Noun. Plural

Doers who are turning Europe into a place where migrant-led innovation happens naturally.



Recent News

Recents Facebook News

At Airbnb HQ in Paris with main stakeholders of #refugee integration in France

Facebook photo

Recent News

What does migrant-led innovation look like in Paris today?

What does migrant-led innovation look like in Paris today?

PLACEmakers launch event May 2017 First Innovation Lab : 72 hours, 9 solutions, 13 nationalities – PLACE comes to life at Le CENTQUARTRE-Paris The initial pilot of PLACE in Paris kicked off last week and will unfold until Autumn 2017. Around 50 participants, most of...

read more