Revolutionizing Design Education for the 21st century at Somaiya Vidyavihar University

Riidl Academy
7 min readJun 10, 2021


At Somaiya Vidyavihar University, Riidl Academy is leading the way to reinvent Design education through its 4 year undergraduate program — Bachelor of Design in Product Design.

Design, Innovation and Entrepreneurship has always been a culture at this campus. And now with this degree program, the zest of building wonderful solutions for our people and planet will be taken to another level. There are 5 reasons why this program is revolutionary.

1. Innovative education model

Imagine you are studying a course in your college that enables you to work on solutions to fix a local problem as part of your coursework. Visualize painting a mural as part of a city-wide campaign to address societal issues to support a cause. Wouldn’t it be fulfilling to help a street vendor build a better business model and enhance their income as your team activity or Building an app to help young students earn credit points by contributing to their community.

Working on real Design Challenges given by Industry Partners will be an enriching learning experience. Understanding the ground challenges of our country can give us a reality check into the skills we must develop in our classrooms. Isn’t that what education is supposed to do? Equip and challenge students to build solutions for our world.

So let’s flip it. Lets not study to eventually find a job to solve problems of the world. Let’s bring those problem statements to the classroom and study courses to solve them while still in college.

Our program will empower students to become compassionate Product Designers who can build Sustainable solutions using Design Thinking philosophy that focuses on User Experience and Business viability.

Our philosophy is well summarized by our Academic Advisory Board member Mr. Mookesh Patel

“In this 21st century, almost everything you touch, see, hear, taste, and smell is designed for you. Designed to meet your needs and wants. Most designers focus on ‘wants.’ I think that intelligent and sensitive designers focus on ‘needs.’ After All, how many of us need another innovative cell phone? However, we do need design thinking to make innovative products that help make peace on earth, or facilitate food production for every hungry stomach, or provide aids for everyone who cannot feel the touch, or cannot listen to beautiful and heartwarming music, or cannot taste the wonderful cuisines of various cultures, or cannot smell the aroma of a flowing river.

In short, design begins with sustainable and social considerations and ends with systemic products that are beautiful to look at and effortless to work with. The design process helps not only to build great products, services, or solutions, but also for developing a far-reaching approach to life itself.”

2. Learn Product Design straight from the Startup Incubator

The linear path after finishing college is to get a job and be a part of the industry only to find out what you learned all these years was completely irrelevant. Distinctive part of our program is that a startup incubator specializing in Product Design is offering this course.

riidl, a leading Startup Incubator (supported by DST, BIRAC Government of India and MSInS Government of Maharashtra) with its experience of facilitating 120+ startups, 5000+ Makers and building a Global Design and Innovation ecosystem, introduces a Product Design program (4 year Undergraduate program)

Over the past 11 years, riidl has built a strong community of Makers, Innovators, Designers and Entrepreneurs globally. We have a thriving Maker Movement through our flagship events like Maker Mela and Darwin. We bring fresh and inspirational ideas to our campus through TEDxSomaiyaVidyavihar. We take pride in serving the curious minds of our campus and beyond through our programs, our laboratories — FABLAB, SMAC LAB, BIO lab, XR lab, our network of mentors & investors and design challenges that provide them with the opportunity to build innovative solutions. We have assimilated learning from our successes and failures as a startup incubator. We have leveraged our network in corporate & governance coupled with the ongoing dialogue on the future of design education to put this program together.

Mithun John, Jt CEO at MSInS (Maharashtra State Innovation Society) shares

“MSInS is the nodal government agency to support an innovation-driven entrepreneurial ecosystem in the state of Maharashtra. riidl is one of our incubators that is leading the path to create an ecosystem for Designers and entrepreneurs to provide access to laboratories, mentors, investors, grants and much more. We have been collaborating with them for a variety of our initiatives like Maharashtra startup week, ideathons, hackathons. Offering this learning in the form of formula Design education is an excellent move by riidl and is much needed to make education in our country relevant and experiential. We look forward to engaging with the students of Riidl Academy who will be the driving force of Design and Innovation in our country.”

3. Nurturing and wholesome environment for students

Our colleges must prepare us for heartaches, failures, hustling and everything that life throws at us. Look around us. We are going through some real trying times. We care deeply for the overall well-being of our students. We want to prepare them for these hardships and instill in them the power of meaning and purpose.

At Riidl Academy, we wish to give our students a holistic education. Thus we believe instilling soft skills in their formal education is crucial.

Roos Giethoorn, our Coach for soft skills at Riidl Academy supports change-makers, innovators, and entrepreneurs by helping enhance their social-emotional skills and critical thinking skills, among others. She focuses on bringing energy and empowerment to places where they might be blocked and helps students live a creative and inspired life.

In our education model, our students would be uniquely positioned to interact with students from different disciplines like engineering, management, cultural studies etc. This is very crucial for Designers for building a diverse perspective.

4. An Ecosystem above and beyond formal education

Students can learn courses on the internet. They don’t need us for just that. As an educational institution we have a huge responsibility beyond just teaching courses. We are responsible for creating high intensity interactions, stimulating environments, and providing a playground for them to experiment, fail and try again. From their physical & mental health, mindful living and tangible skills that make them capable of contributing to society through a job / startup, we are responsible for all of it.

We have built an ecosystem that facilitates the above. It includes curated interactions and engagements with our diverse communities, network of industry partners and mentors, access to grants, investors and exchange programs to give a global perspective.

Our startup communities are thriving and a great support system for budding innovators. They mutually share the challenges of the innovation journey, useful resources and invaluable market connects. Our students will be living their educational journey alongside these startup founders. And that we will feel gives them differentiation and a unique academic experience.

Dharmil Sheth, Co-founder from Pharmeasy shares

“At Riidl Academy, students will work alongside Pharmeasy and other industry partners on design challenges and build exciting innovative solutions as part of their curriculum. At Pharmeasy, most valuable contributions come from curious people with cross- sectoral knowledge. That kind of 21st century diverse training across disciplines, I believe has been missing from our current education and riidl academy fills in that gap. This will make them ready not only for the best jobs that are out there but also fine citizens with a wholesome personality. riidl already has the entire ecosystem of designers, startups, industry and academia for many years now. Now we offer this as mainstream education. I’m excited to come and share my learnings at Pharmeasy like growth hacking, agility and scalability with students of Riidl Academy”

5. Learn and Build with Industry & Society

We are in love with systems thinking and we feel it can give deeper insights into real problems.

Our program’s evolving curriculum is based on 4 pillars: Design, Technology, Business and Humanities. Innovation happens at the boundaries of these pillars. It has been specially designed for students to carve their own Product Design journey depending on their interests and contemporary needs by selecting courses & thrust areas. (Thrust areas: Governance, Sustainability, Healthcare, Biotech, Agri-tech, Food & Nutrition, Robotics, Mobility, Education, Entertainment, Fin-tech, etc)

Society is made up of several stakeholders — Governance, Citizen bodies, NGOs, Educational institutions, Startup world, Design studios/ Art forms, Corporate

Exploring different stakeholders of the society and its interconnections — expands one’s perspective and provides a holistic view of the society. To facilitate this exploration and support our diverse curriculum, we have many industry partners onboard.

Vishal Gondal, Founder GOQii shares

“A passion for building solutions , the drive to do something new and a positive attitude are considered invaluable in the real world. For most of us, qualifications don’t matter. It’s the results that count. Hence “Get your hands dirty” attitude, ability to do things with agility, ability to network and the willingness to fail & learn are few of the top qualities we will build in our Riidl Academy students. I am thrilled to share my experience in gaming, healthcare with our students and build some more products with these bright minds.”

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash



Riidl Academy

An institution without boundaries, is leading the way to reinvent design education through its 4 year UG program — Bachelor of Design in Product Design