Kunlaboratorium: Combining Business and Social Impact

Last Thursday we hosted a successful Kunlaboratorium on business and social impact, and more specifically on how organisations do not need to choose between them.

An inspiring evening with lots of impressive stories

It was a bit of a challenge to get our office into Kunlaboratorium mode while we are in the middle of renovations to expand our office 😄 but by 6 p.m. we were ready to receive our guests!

After a supper of Eetba(a)r’s organic sandwiches delivered by bike, Kris Aerts kicked off the Kunlaboratorium with an introduction on how Kunlabora combines business with social impact. Our current recipe, a powerful one in our experience, is to give what you have and combine that with time you want to spend anyway:

  • What we have is our expertise in software crafting and our network.

  • Time we want to spend anyway is time to learn, experiment and share knowledge, time to coach students and time between projects.

Building software solutions remains pricey, but we modestly succeed in filling digital gaps between profit and non-profit.

Lieven Verlinde, deputy of buurtwerk ’t Lampeke, brought a wonderful story on the challenges of ’t Lampeke and their vulnerable families. He brought his domain expertise and vision to Mezuri, the web application that we built together for family coaches in their work with the families. He explained how making time for each other and starting from an ambition to collaborate in equality and from your own DNA, expertise can be shared and strengthened, organisations and relations can grow. In turn this fosters powerful changes in our social fabric and opens up fundamental rights for everybody in our society, including vulnerable people.

Impression 1

With a number of well-chosen energizers, Emma Eyckmans ensured that the energy level was maintained throughout the evening.

After a short break Stephan Bobbaers and Debora Barbé of Colruyt Group shared how they contributed to the CITRUS project of the Flemish government to increase road safety on Belgian roads, reduce CO2 emissions and promote mobility by using cooperative intelligent transport systems. In the companion app truck drivers receive alerts when they approach an incident or roadworks to prevent traffic jams and roadside collisions. Colruyt also contributed to the development of an intelligent traffic light system based on real-time traffic information.

Erik Béatse talked about how Maakbaar Leuven launched the Repair Charter in a network of various partners. Together they aspire to empower repair communities and individual repairders to break the traditional take-make-use-waste chain by enabling people to recycle, remake, repair, or ideally prepare broken appliances for re-use. Together with Kunlabora they developed the Repair App.

Next, Davida Van Hemelryck explained how, as an organizational psychologist, she sees agile project management as a good practice of positive psychology, a movement in psychology focusing on creating the environment in which people’s strengths are fostered. Convinced by the idea that the agile practices could be used in a broader context than merely IT, together with Heidi Bottu and Seppe Gielen, she coached a number of engineering students working on six realistic projects organized by KU Leuven Technovation Hub.

Maarten Huijsmans was our last speaker. He elaborated on Humainly’s ambition to create meaningful impact by offering people opportunities. They connect the need for image annotation in the West with the need for quality, fairly paying jobs in poor areas of the world. An impressive story!

Impression 2

Tim Schraepen moderated a panel discussion with challenging questions from our guests. An important take away is that non-profit and profit organizations can definitely join forces and make the world a better place! And making profit is not evil: it is part of the game.

We concluded our evening with Bouke Versteegh’s impressive visual summary and some networking.


Many thanks to our passionate speakers and enthusiastic guests, turning our Kunlaboratorium into a fantastic event!

Stay tuned!

On November 26th we will host our next Kunlaboratorium on the frontend elephant in the room. This will be a more technical edition. In January we again will host a non-technical edition. We will soon announce the date and the topic - stay tuned!

Inspired by our story?

Always welcome for a chat! Email Kris or read more on our outreach website.

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