Inspiring startups in the Motor Valley about the value of Human Centered Design

Updated: Jul 19



On a sunny, hot day in July 2022, I had the pleasure to spend one full day in Modena at the heart of the Emilia Romagna region in Italy.


Modena is home to balsamic vinegar, tortellini, Ferrari supercars, and the district called 'Motor Valley'. I was invited by the Silicon Valley-based startup accelerator Plug and Play to run a workshop and mentor a group of startups for the new Motor Valley 2022 Accelerator program.


Being there for the second time in a row is such an inspiring full-day immersion in the field of Design Thinking, User Experience Research, Experience Design, and brainstorming strategies, ideas, and plans with top startup CEOs from all over the world.



During the first part of the session, we touched on themes of innovation, collaboration, and Human Centered Design, and we closed the morning session with a fun activity to unleash creativity and collaboration.

In the afternoon we dived deeper on tools and research methods to apply Human Centered Design to different businesses and at different stages of the project.



Other than having a lot of fun and spending quality time with smart and passionate individuals, one of the most rewarding parts was the participatory brainstorming activity where mixed teams created from scratch and pitched new ideas following the research methods proper of the User Experience research discipline.



The final part of the afternoon offered a chance for different startups to dig deeper into their projects and run 1:1 mentoring sessions tailored to the products and services that the founders were working on.



A rewarding moment arrived when feedback from the startups about the day in Modena with them was shared with me.

89% of participants strongly agreed and 11% agreed on the proficiency and professionalism of the workshop facilitator (me).

Other feedback was shared among the teams and overall I felt an extremely positive vibe that is given by one important thing: the emphatic connection with human beings!



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