Education, innovation and play 🕵️‍♀️

How do you put innovation at the heart of igniting curiosity, fostering creativity and celebrating the joy of learning through play? It’s a long question, true. But it’s a challenging and important one too. It’s something we ask ourselves day-in, day out. So, when we got the chance to pose it to some of the brightest minds at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), we jumped at the chance - and our very own Mikkel Velstrup, Magdalena Odrowaz-Zelezik and Coco Murphy were impressed by the results.

Winning Team and Judges

Mikkel, Magdalena and Coco are also members of our Retail Execution team. We call it REX. Together, they support our retail partners to present our products in the best way possible. But we’re always looking to innovate and this, in part, was what this exercise was all about.

“The best ideas are born in diverse groups”, explains Mikkel. “They’re the product of meaningful conversations. Especially those that challenge your personal viewpoint. This is what we believe anyway. It’s also why we pay close attention to listening to one another and place such an important emphasis on collaboration. This is how products come to life in the most captivating way possible.”

Magdalena agrees. “There were quite a few ideas that were so close to being incredibly innovative. But to be truly disruptive, you have to look beyond the group. It’s only by including others and embracing diverse viewpoints that you get the unique mix of ideas that real magic happens. Curiosity and imagination are key to this, and it was super-encouraging to see that DTU encourages this sort of thinking.”

OK, so tell us more. What’s the background to this project and why were we so keen to get involved. At this point, Coco takes up the story:


“We were one of four industry partners that over 800 DTU Masters students had to choose from. Each set a challenge and they had three weeks to go away and prepare. But just three minutes to pitch their idea to us.”

“Once they’d split into groups that is,” adds Magdalena. “We were delighted to have 26 groups of up to eight students in each.”

“Absolutely”, Coco continues. “It was amazing what they achieved in such a short space of time. They had lectures and preparations to complete around their innovations. Testing solutions. Impact and feasibility studies. Not to mention Q&A sessions and polishing their ideas and pitches.”

“And all within three short weeks,” says Mikkel. “Not an easy task. But a stimulating one. Hopefully, anyway. Inspiring curious minds is part of our core premise as a business. Ideas that can spark creativity in our audience are like gold dust”.

So what was the LEGO Group’s challenge?

“It was based around innovative ways to encourage engagement in play in our stores”, he continues. “We asked our groups to come up with their very own innovative solution to inspire the builders of tomorrow in our retail stores. It was about engaging children in the power of play. We gave a nudge towards devising a solution that combined a physical experience with a digital one. But this wasn’t a must. There were enough constraints to navigate and information to digest already.”

“I think it’s a lot more engaging for students to work with real companies and real world problems”, reflects Magdalena, “hopefully it made this project constructive for everyone who took part. We were hoping to see stuff we hadn’t thought of ourselves. We’ve spent a lot of time in this headspace and coming up with something new is tricky.”

“That’s right,” says Coco, “I was amazed when I found out that nobody really knew each other before the assignment. They all came from different departments so what every group achieved was something to be proud of.”


So, Mikkel, tell us a little bit about what they came up with.

“We saw many entries which elaborated on physical play at the tables in LEGO® stores with a digital dimension. There were plenty that drew on Artificial Intelligence to hint at new possibilities too. Some related to creating lasting moments from store visits and others addressed particular play challenges, including STEM domains. Few ideas focused on making the bricks secondary though.”

“That’s true”, says Magdalena, but she’s keen to point out the strong emphasis on sustainability: “I’m very proud that this was the core focus of so many projects. I think it bodes well for the future.”

Speaking of which, what happens now it’s all over?

“We’ve picked a very worthy winner”, Coco explains. “Now it’s our turn to play host. We welcome the team with the best idea to our Headquarters in Billund and give them our warmest LEGO® welcome. Maybe we’ll come back and tell you all about it.”

Let’s hope so. Watch this space.

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