the very first elevate fellows have been announced!

The ELEVATE StartWell™ Challenge invited applicants to present innovative new concepts to improve the element of play in early childhood (0-8 years), reimagine urban spaces and playgrounds, and the way young children interact with space.

Entries were received from 12 countries, across disciplines that included design, architecture, early childhood, performing arts, technology and production. Ideas included pop-up spaces representing the local country, iPhone apps to encourage children to play outside within nature, spaces and concepts to enable full enjoyment for children with access requirements, and large-scale playgrounds inspired by the ‘A Different Class’ typologies presented by Lekker Architects with the Lien Foundation earlier this year.

The panel of judges – consisting of senior representatives from the Lien Foundation, Lekker Architects (Singapore), British Council, Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM] (Japan), St James’ Church Kindergarten (Singapore) and the ArtScience Museum (Singapore), Demos (UK) and international playground manufacturer Lappset – was hugely impressed by the creativity of applicants in approaching the ELEVATE Challenge.

The following 12 applicants of the ELEVATE StartWell™ Challenge, representing a diverse range of nationalities, were judged the best by the panel, and have gone on to become ELEVATE Fellows for 2015:

  • Dang Thi Minh Thu, Vietnam
  • Grant Menzie, UK
  • Chloe Meineck, UK
  • Ben Barker, UK
  • Paul Drury, UK
  • James Sales, UK
  • Sumitra Pasupathy, Singapore
  • Francis Sollano, Philippines
  • Ngai Yuen Low, Malaysia
  • Fakhrizal Nashr, Indonesia
  • Bronwyn Cumbo, Australia
  • Neil Hobbs, Australia 

In February, the 12 Fellows assembled in Tokyo and Yamaguchi, Japan, for a one week Innovation Camp, organised by the British Council, Yamaguchi City Foundation for Cultural Promotion and with the support of Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM]. The camp was also facilitated by UK experts Shelagh Wright and Ella Britton.

There, they worked with local and international experts to further develop and refine their ideas, experience new and innovative models of design and ideation, and collaborate across countries. At the end of the Camp, the Fellows resubmited their ideas for the opportunity to secure a portion of funding available to further develop their concepts.

In May 2015, The Lien Foundation and the British Council announced the recipients of $50,000 to create a more playful future for children across the world. 

The recipients selected were:

  • POP UP PARKS, by James Sale, UK ($20,000)
  • GREAT URBAN CHALLENGE, by Francis Sollano, Philippines ($10,000)
  • PLAYEUM, by Sumitra Pasupathy, Singapore ($10,000)
  • PLAYFINDERS, by Paul Drury, UK ($10,000)


Developed and presented by the British Council, ELEVATE aims to build a global community of creative problem-solvers, who will meet practical challenges with innovative solutions.

ELEVATE provides a platform for innovative thinkers to come together, to discuss issues, to learn and to develop projects using culture and creativity in Health & Wellbeing; Education & Play; Creative Cities; Environment; Conflict & Safety.



ELEVATE Challenge: An open call in which applicants from Australia, East Asia and the UK are invited to put forward their best ideas in response to set challenges.


ELEVATE BT Connect: Applicants and local experts will share ideas and hear from leading international figures in the world of innovation and design, via teleconferencing technology from ELEVATE global partner, BT Global Services.


ELEVATE Innovation Camp: ELEVATE Fellows from around the world will come together for six days of workshops, training sessions, collaboration and ideas-sharing.


ELEVATE Digital Network: Launching April 2015, the ELEVATE Digital Network will be a web-based platform for creative innovators, the world over.