Design Thinking Meets Business – The DeserTech Challenge

Master of Business Administration: PMBA6106

Course Description

Design Thinking is a human-centered creative approach to innovation and problem solving. It draws from the designer’s ability to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business to succeed.

By incorporating design thinking tools into their everyday practice, MBA students & Business Executives develop an exploratory and creative skill set critical for innovation and decision making.
Design Thinking for Business is an immersive course that presents students with a real challenge, allows them to explore the entrepreneur inside of them, be exposed to the startup nation ecosystem in Israel, using design tools, brainstorming solutions with a team, creating an MVP prototype and presenting it to funders.

Participants in the course will team with students in Israel in the fields of Engineering and Design, to address unmet needs and create a viable solution.

Teams will propose and prototype a solution that involves engineering and product development, accompanied by a business strategy for possible commercialization.

Israel boasts several R&D centers which specialize in the desert. Also, Israel is a world leader for the number of startups per capita. This course will connect HKU’s students with local players to share knowledge, ignite new ideas and ideate solutions.

Course Challenge: Deserts account for 40% of the earth’s surface. 20% of the population live in desert areas. As global temperatures rise and the human population expands, more of the planet is vulnerable to desertification: the permanent degradation of land that was once arable. How might we thrive in the desert?

Our challenge partners for the course will include the Israel Ministry of Energy, the Mekorot Water Authority & Innovation Africa (an NGO).

Course objectives

The Instructors

  • Tamar Many

    Tamar Many is a multidisciplinary designer and senior lecturer in the Department of Visual Communication at the Shenkar College of Engineering & Design. She leads a course on impact-entrepreneurship at Tel Aviv University’s Coller School of Management. Tamar is also cofounder of MindState, a multidisciplinary platform which conjoins designers, students, and professionals institutions, in order to explore and develop solutions for societal issues. She is actively involved in two HealthTech startups.

  • Michal Shalem

    Michal Shalem is a serial business and social entrepreneur. She is the co-founder and CEO of Think Creative, a strategic company specializing in complex challenges with economic and social impact. Michal led mega plans & cross-border collaborative initiatives, developing innovation & startup ecosystems. Michal served as Jerusalem’s Chief of Staff and led Jerusalem 2020, A Five-Year Plan for Competitiveness and Economic Growth in Jerusalem, together with Professor Michael Porter, from Harvard. Michal established "Let's Grow Israel" developing the competitiveness of Israel's Periphery.

  • Michal Lebenthal Andreson, LlB

    Michal Lebenthal Andreson, LlB is a design manager & the co-founder and CEO of ThinkCreative, a strategic company specializing in complex challenges with economic and social impact. She served as the Deputy Legal Advisor at the Ministry of Aliya and Integration. Michal applies a multidisciplinary approach to complex challenges. She has extensive experience in legal advisory and policy, alongside implementable strategy, design thinking, and systems learning, accelerating innovation and startup ecosystems.

Starts 28/12/2021

Ends 13/02/2022

Lecture Date/HK Time Topic
1 Dec 28 (Tue)


Kick off – session 1: Introduction and Prompts

1.          introduction guest speaker

2.          introduction of topic

3.          brainstorm toolkit


2 Dec 30 (Thu)


Kick off – session 2: Team Introduction



3 Jan 6 (Thu)


Meet with teams

Introduce teams and challenges.
research, data mapping & validation

4 Jan 18 (Tue)
Meet with teams

Communication of expectations for event
research, data mapping & validation

5 & 6 Jan 23(Sun)


Ideation Sprint – session 1

1. Field research & practical methodology training and lectures

2. Brainstorm sessions (divergence and convergence of ideas)


7 & 8 Jan 30(Sun)


Ideation Sprint – session 2

1. Visual storytelling

2. Meeting the designers, industry mentors, defining the unmet needs


9 & 10 Feb 6 (Sun)


Ideation Sprint – session 3

1. Teaming, ideating and co creating solutions

2. Preparing an investor deck & pitch


11 & 12 Feb 13 (Sun)


Ideation Sprint  – finale

1. Pitch & evaluation

2. Judging and winning team announced


Additional Information

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