The idea of a “future center”, which had one of its first practical realizations at Skandia (Sweden) in the 1990’s, has since spread to many countries around the world. Centers in both the public and private sector, operating under a variety of names and in a diversity of forms, actively stimulate innovation, future orientation, creative problem solving, organizational learning, client-centered thinking, knowledge creation, and organizational change and renewal.
The first International Future Center Summit, in the form of an Exploration Tour, took place in The Netherlands in May 2005. 55 people from 13 countries took part in this event. The tour lasted 3 days, and was designed around visits to five Dutch Future Centers for the public sector. During on-site visits participants explored working practice at the centers while developing new ideas for improving Future Center practice and exploring the basis for personal and organizational cooperation in the future. The idea for a European project to explore how Future Centers work was conceived at the Summit.
The Da Vinci Future Centre Summit and Exploration Tour was held in Tuscany, Italy in June 2006. 58 people from 12 countries attended this 3-day event, which included visits to several Italian innovation centers, both classic and modern, including places where innovators such as Leonardo da Vinci once worked. Two themes formed the double focus of the 2006 Summit: (1) How can we translate the creative methods used by Leonardo da Vinci into powerful techniques for use in Future Centers? (2) How can we create and run Future Centers with limited resources? In addition to exploring these themes, participants applied their collective intelligence to an issue posed by one of the Italian cities visited.
Sweden was the location of the 3rd International Future Center Summit, held in May 2009. The theme of the Summit was Designing a Sustainable Society, with a strong focus on “societal entrepreneurship”. Activities and presentations made use of this focus to stimulate thinking, creativity and reflective insight during the Summit. 50 people from 8 countries took part in a program that included workshops on supporting societal entrepreneurs and how to address actual challenges in the community such as stimulating cross-organizational collaboration, changing mind-sets in organizations and the role of leadership in Future Centers. The Summit ended with a Design Studio on sustainable development and the design of society.