Innovation Lab Officially Opened By Prof. Dr. Emil Salim!

At last, the Innovation Lab 2019 kicked off today! And it kicked off with a bang as it was filled a series of exciting programs! For all of us who have been busy preparing ourselves and the projects over the past months, today was the D-day. Here’s a recap of what went down.

To set the tone, in the morning we had introductions from all Frans Seda Fellows and the NPOs’ representatives. Although we had read the biographies and CVs of each individual, it was more exciting to hear everyone introduced themselves…live! I personally feel so grateful to be able to connect with the Fellows and the NPOs through the Innovation Lab for this gives us the opportunity to break out of our own little bubble, moving across the silos if you will, to work on a project that will benefit the NPOs.

Subsequently, Ibu Ery Seda, who’s the daughter of the late Frans Seda, gave an inspiring talk. She shared with us how her father was a man of integrity who put the prosperity of the people and the welfare of the citizens over his own personal interest. But her talk had a broader implication, extending beyond her memories of her father; it was enriched also by her erudite observation of the current state of Indonesian society such as how those who hold positions of power tend to blame others for their own mistakes. Frans Seda’s integrity was so exemplary that he would have emphasized the notion of self-accountability to his children, and how appalled he must have been had he witnessed this blame-game is taking place in Indonesia today. But Ibu Ery also rightly noted that this evasion of self-responsibility and blaming others happen in other societies as well. Lastly, Ibu Ery encourages us to define success not by the metrics that society has imposed on us (e.g. material wealth, educational degrees), but on how well we are in exercising self-discipline.

We resumed the program after taking the lunch break with the Passion Talks. Today we had: Tias giving her talk on the possibility of attaining a shortcut to doing what you’re passionate about; Wouter on how little we actually are (the human species living on planet earth) in the multiverse and how this should remind ourselves to be kind toward each other; Irna on the implementation of the SDGs (#8) with the focus on inclusivity for persons with disabilities; and Natascha on her passion for helping others and how that translates into her current involvement in several projects including TedxRotterdam. Her courage to tell her own story was extremely inspiring to all of us! All in all, the Passion Talks for Day 1 were diverse, evocative, and thought-provoking.

We opened the evening program with welcoming words from Nindi Sitepu, the President of FSF, and followed immediately by Ibu Ery. Then, Dolf Huijgers, the President of the Board of Trustees to the FSF gave a few words about Frans Seda and his encounter with Prof. Dr. Emil Salim, who was the keynote speaker for the evening. Before Prof. Salim gave his speech though, the Fellows along with their teams had to present their projects for the NPOs. It was illuminating to see what the others have been working on over the past weeks, what they will plan to do throughout the week, and ultimately, what they will deliver to the NPOs. Afterward, Prof. Salim delivered his speech. He outlined his assessment of the projects that we are working on and gave a few tips on seeking a few hidden opportunities, including one that involves the marketization of the Aceh Gayo coffee that has risen to popularity. Next, he shared with us his interaction with the late Frans Seda and how his visit to Maumere gave him many pivotal insights into the marginalized Eastern Indonesia, and how passionate Frans Seda was about eradicating poverty in this area. Last but not least, Prof. Salim raised his concerns over interfaith conflicts in the world that materialized into bombings of mosques and churches, which reflect how low human beings can go to validate their beliefs and ideologies. Prof. Salim has a lot of faith in the Frans Seda Foundation and the Innovation Lab by which he referred multiple times as a promising ‘laboratory’.

The bar has been set so high by this first day of the Innovation Lab, but we have six more days to go. Judging from the exuberant energy of the group and the precision-engineered organization of the organizing team, though, it might be the case that the bar will be raised higher…each day…to the extent that it would supersede this one.

Buckle up–we’re in for an awesome ride, Fellows!

Ari Purnama, Indonesian Innovation Lab Fellow