Niti Bhan brings a multidisciplinary perspective to innovation and design, one that is multicultural and holistic, integrating her life experience on multiple continents and countries with her passion for design. Her research interests push the boundaries of industrial design and practice, often combining tools and methods from strategy and business to address the challenges posed by complex societal systems.
After 2 years of fulltime doctoral study at Aalto University, the year 2022 has been one of putting fresh perspectives into practice for industry and society – as member of the jury for Core77 Design Awards – Consumer Technology, and as curriculum contributor to the German development agency’s (GiZ) online course on inclusive business for social impact. In May 2022, she received a grant from the Arts Promotion Center of Finland (taike.fi) to establish the innovative creative practices incubator Ymmärrys ry as a non-profit contributing to societal development.
From November 2007 to early 2020, she founded and managed Emerging Futures Lab, a pioneering multidisciplinary design and innovation consulting practice for frontier markets such as sub Saharan Africa whose clients range from the Dutch government ministries of foreign affairs and economy as well as new venture development for cutting edge startups in fintech, blockchain, mesh wifi and renewable energy.
Well-known for speaking persuasively on the outcomes of impactful design practice, watch her TEDTalk on cognitive justice and the opening speech to the panel on digitalization of the African informal economy at re:publica, Berlin 2019. Noteworthy plenary keynotes include the 25th Anniversary of Human-Computer Interaction (CHI) conference in 2007 in San Jose, California, titled ‘The Mobile as a Post-Industrial Platform for Socio-Economic Development and innovation at the bottom of the pyramid and emerging markets’, and on the systemic challenges of technology and inequality in Madrid, Spain for BankInter Foundation.
An author in print and online at BusinessWeek, Harvard Business Review, the Journal of Chartered Designers UK, Core77, and numerous other locations, she was ranked among the top 40 design writers online before the era of social media.
Her MBA in New Markets Strategy is from the University of Pittsburgh, followed by a Heinz Foundation Fellowship to apprentice at the University’s Technology Transfer Office. She earned a first class in Industrial & Production Engineering from the University of Bangalore, and post graduate design education at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. At the Institute of Design, IIT, Chicago, she maintained a 4.0 gpa while working fulltime as Director, Graduate Recruiting. She has 7 O Levels from London University, and a high school diploma from the International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL), Malaysia.
Her 30 years of global experience includes employers such as Hewlett Packard and McCann Erickson in the post liberalization Indian market of the mid 1990s; and The Second City, the world’s leading “university of improv” during the dotcom boom of the late nineties in the United States. She has lived and worked in the United States, Singapore, India, Finland, The Netherlands, and Kenya.