2016 Assembly: Open Innovation and the Environment

“Know thyself and our world in the digital era”

Hosted by Tsinghua University, together with the Centre of Research Interdisciplinary (CRI), the Institut Pasteur and Sage Bionetworks, the 2016 Assembly was held in Shenzhen China, on March 26-28.



Background: The 2016 Shenzhen Assembly: Open Innovation and the Environment “Know thyself and our world in a digital era’” was the sixth in a series of open innovation events starting with the Sage Commons Congress held in San Francisco in 2010 through 2013, followed by the Paris Assembly  “Connecting Open Research, Open Education and Open Social Impact” in 2015.

2016 Speakers included: Christiana Figueres, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; Francois Grey, Citizen Cyberlab, University of Geneva; FabricatorzPeter KapiteinInspire2Live;  Parag Mankeekar, Curator – RealLives Simulation Game; Tefo Mohapi, iAfrikan and ReportXenophobiaEric Pan, Seeed Studio; Lea ShanleyUS federal government citizen science organizer and South Big Data HubBuster Simpson, Public Art and Expression; Geoffrey Henry Siwo, iBM Research-Africa; Pablo Suarez, Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre: Elizabeth Tyson, Commons Lab, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars;  Jun Wang, iCarbonX; David Li, Director, Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab and Co-founder of Maker Collider and Hacked Matter.

2016 Recipients of the Hartwell Award for Open Innovation: Christiana Figueres for her tireless efforts in support of collaborative and global action on climate change as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; and Massimo Banzi, co-founder of Arduino, for his work driving creativity and imagination through open-sourced technologies.

Hold the Date: April 20-22, Seattle WA

2017 Open Assembly: “Nurturing Communities of Novel Experts for Deeper Insights & Impact”

2016 Featured Speakers





Christiana Figueres






Buster Simpson


Know thyself and our world in the digital era

The theme of the 2016 Assembly is on increasing knowledge through personal sensors, and how this form of open learning in a digital era can be applied to an area of shared concern – the environment.  In short, we will focus on the ubiquity of and the knowledge to be gained from personal sensors, and how this information can be applied to address issues of real concern.  Our attendees come from a variety of sectors – science, education, social impact, the arts, etc. – the commonality is the desire to impact change in their respective areas.


More on Themes

The theme of this year’s Open Assembly will be around the opportunity to make a difference by gaining knowledge about ourselves and our societies through exploration and sharing of insights.

The classic Greek Philosopher Socrates said “Know thyself”; Lao Tzu went further to say “Knowing others is intelligence, knowing thyself is true wisdom”. In a digital era there is a new strength that can come from the wisdom of open learning, of open science where insights can accelerate innovation, and through increased self-awareness to enable responsibility. This year’s Open Assembly will focus these themes on one shared area of interest – the environment. We will consider how synergies between the areas of open knowledge, open education, and open arts will allow us to tackle the underlying issues to address a central issue of the 21st  century- the health of our common home, this planet earth. We are inviting world experts to come together with the next generation of creative young minds to explore our common future.  Join us in Shenzhen in March and explore your role in shaping this future.

During the Assembly, we will more fully explore the following:

Know Thyself in a Digital World
Sensors allow us to know ourselves and our world in a new way. We are no longer dependent on the traditional experts to tell us who we are (i.e. doctors say “you are a person with Parkinsons disease” rather than viewing our data gathered by sensors into features). We can sense ourselves, and our world, directly.

We will open the Assembly be looking at what does this mean in terms of power and social roles? Societies of experts will have to adapt. And new intermediaries will emerge – few of us will actually sense things directly, and we’ll instead depend on the accuracy of the sensors as well as the interpretation of the algorithms.

Why is it that an “open” knowing of oneself is better than a closed knowing? What’s the structural advantage of the open approach? What are the negatives and risks? And how do we design – projects, institutions, ourselves – to increase the odds of realizing the advantages while mitigating the risks and negatives?

We are inviting world experts to come together with the next generation of creative young minds to explore our common future.  Join us in Shenzhen in March and explore your role in shaping this future.

To apply for the 2016 Shenzhen Assembly, email: info@sagebase.org

Host Organizations

The 2016 Assembly is hosted by four internationally recognized research organizations:

Tsinghua University and Open FIESTA, The Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity, Institut Pasteur and Sage Bionetworks.

Host Organizations

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Past Assemblies

The 2016 Shenzhen Assembly is the sixth in a series of Sage Bionetworks’ events on open innovation.

The 2015 Paris Assembly, based on the theme “Connecting Open Research, Open Education and Open Social Impact”, was held on April 16-18, at the Institut Pasteur. The 2013 Commons Congress in San Francisco…


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The Open Assembly Experience

Attending an Open Assembly is a unique experience.  From the structured part of the conference, you can expect rapid-fire project descriptions ranging from open genomic data sharing to novel education methods to in-depth keynotes on how data drives tornado models and micro lending. But you can also expect to be turned out of the conference hall into the host city and asked to interact directly with other attendees, with local citizens, with nature, with data, with your own hopes and fears…

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Organizing Committee

Christian Brechot, Institute Pasteur

Stephen Friend, Sage Bionetworks

Geoff Mulgan, National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts, London

Francois Taddei, Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire

Jun Wang, iCarbonX

John Wilbanks, Sage Bionetworks

Luping Xu, Tsinghua University

Lin Zhang, Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute

2016 Hartwell Award for Open Innovation

The award namesake, Nobel laureate Leland Hartwell, was a founding director of Sage Bionetworks and the 2015 Open Assembly Co-Chair.  Invited keynote speakers include the 2016 recipients of the Hartwell Award for Open Innovation:  Christiana Figueres and Massimo Banzi.

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Event Venue Map and Transportation


5:00-7:00 PM   Pre-Assembly Reception – Kylin Villa “1997” bar


12:00-2:00   REGISTRATION – MEET AND GREET Shenzhen Science & Technology Library

12:00-1:00   LUNCH – Shang Shu Fang Restaurant (next to Starbucks in the Peking University Business School Building; adjacent to the Library)

“Know thyself and our world in a digital era”

Stephen Friend Sage Bionetworks
Luping Xu Open FIESTA, Tsinghua University
Francois Taddei Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire


Shasha Jumbe Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Wang Jun iCarbonX
Eric Pan Seeed Studio
Buster Simpson Public Art and Expression

4:30-5:00 COFFEE BREAK

5:00-6:30 SERIES OF TALKS BY ATTENDEES  – Rapid Learning format

VIncent Danos CRI/ CNRS
Anshul Gaur d.light
Peter Kapitein Inspire2Live
Juan Keymer Catholic University of Chile
Puneet Kishor
Quitterie Largeteau Biohacking Safari
Daniel Mietchen NIH/NLM/NCBI
Tonee Ndungu Kytabu
Ricky Ng-Adam HackAcademy
Akpéli Nordor Institut Curie
Peter Peele iAfrikan
Zoe Romano Wemake Makerspace (Milan, Italy)
Anders Rosengren Lund University Diabetes Centre
Shan Shan Bamboo Workshop
Pek van Andel, University of Groningen
Stephane Vernede EO Technology

6:30-7:00 Travel to dinner

7:00-10:00 RECEPTION &  DINNER   Shang Shu Fang Restaurant (next to Starbucks in the Peking University Business School Building; adjacent to the Library)


8:00-8:30   GATHER  Shenzhen Science & Technology Library

8:30-9:00    WELCOME and DEMO – Fabricatorz

Christopher Adams
Jon Phillips
Susan Spencer
Li Yu

9:00-9:30    KEYNOTE ADDRESS
Christiana Figueres, Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and recipient of the Leland Hartwell Open Innovation Award in Social Impact


Emmanuel Barillot Institut Curie
David Li Xinchejian and Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab
Parag Mankeekar Curator – RealLives Simulation Game


Elizabeth Tyson Commons Lab, Science & Technology Innovation Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center
Kelsey Wiens Creative Commons South Africa


John Wilbanks, Moderator Sage Bionetworks
Danièle Bourcier CNRS/Université Paris2
Jennifer Couch NIH, National Cancer Institute
Gaell Mainguy Centre de Recherches Interdisciplinaires (CRI)
Tefo Mohapi iAfrikan
Roberto Toro Institut Pasteur

12:00-1:00 LUNCH with Project Teams – Shang Shu Fang Restaurant 

1:00-5:30        Afternoon Activity – Out in Shenzhen

Innovation in Open Science
Shenzhen Assembly Triptych // Public Art Workshop
Cutting Edge Science – iCarbonX

6:00-9:00        COCKTAIL RECEPTION – Longsheng Museum, Shenzhen

Our afternoon activity will culminate with a reception and a debriefing of our hands-on experiences working in the city.   Each team will have the opportunity to showcase the outcomes of their efforts, with a focus on tools and techniques employed and lessons learned. We will be joined by Shenzhen city officials.


8:00-8:30   GATHER  Shenzhen Science & Technology Library

8:30-9:00 WELCOME and DEMO  

Arno Klein Sage Bionetworks
Brian Bot Sage Bionetworks


Francois Grey Citizen Cyberlab, University of Geneva
Lea Shanley Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Geoffrey Henry Siwo IBM

10:00 Coffee Break


Ed Gerstner, Moderator Nature, Shanghai
Bruce Aronow Cincinnati Children’s
Jason Bobe Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Paul Boutros Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
James Carlson School Factory
Piarella Peralta Inspire2Live
Fay Xing WuXi Healthcare Ventures


12:00-1:00 LUNCH AND DELEGATE INTERVIEWS  Shang Shu Fang Restaurant

1:15-2:30    REFLECTIONS

2:30-3:00 CLOSING

Luping Xu Open FIESTA, Tsinghua University
Stephen Friend Sage Bionetworks
Francois Taddei Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire