Creativity and openness that enables trust and a collaborative work environment for colleagues and clients are among the reasons Fast Company has recognised AKQA in its annual Best Places to Work for Innovators list.
“As much of the world recovers from health, economic, and social crises, we need innovation more than ever,” said Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “This new list of the Best Workplaces for Innovators celebrates organisations that have fostered innovative thinking by investing in technology, research and development, and their employees.”
“We used to boast about employing around 2,000 people across 30 studios in 20 countries,” said AKQA’s CEO Ajaz Ahmed. “Now that most of our team and clients are working from home, it feels more like one international studio, without the physical barriers of distance. The incredible recent work being recognised confirms that our hearts and minds remain connected. While everyone is adapting, adjusting and rebooting the ways in which we collaborate, it’s only through inclusion that innovation can flourish.”
AKQA assignments include: Code of Conscience, to halt illegal logging of the Amazon rainforest; Neuromuscle, a rapid skill acquisition tool, designed to transfer AI to the human body; Nike’s Unpack Your City transforming packaging used to wrap new shoes into an interactive map of a local running route; Earth Speakr, an interactive artwork started by Olafur Eliasson, amplified by a new generation to give a voice to nature via the free app.
Retail Centre of Excellence
Providing a crucial research and development role, the centre of excellence simulates an in-store environment and home setting. Created and hosted at AKQA, the environment demonstrates new products and initiatives, ranging across IoT, AI and AR solutions. Beyond its future of retail purpose, it has played a crucial role in developing and testing concepts during Covid-19 as retailers look for mobile and contactless payment solutions, delivery options, and rearranging physical retail spaces to improve service and experience.
Research and development
The AKQA Accelerator Program creates a catalyst for change through the application of emerging research and technology, and by driving collaboration between industry and academia collaborating with clients to solve problems that meaningfully create a better future.
“Business, social and technology contexts are ever-changing,” said AKQA’s Asia-Pacific Managing Partner Brian Vella. “Through active exploration, clients and colleagues have the knowledge and tools to achieve growth and shape the future. Working alongside and inside client organisations, AKQA Research and Development is fundamental to our operating model.”
Accessibility in Sport
In partnership with Tennis Australia, AKQA is investigating ways to make sport broadcasts more inclusive for people living with blindness or visual impairments. Taking advantage of recent advancements in binaural audio in the augmented, mixed and virtual reality technology space, the team experiment with the augmentation of sound in real-time. By sonifying live match analytics, it’s possible to create a richer audio experience for people with blindness or visual impairments to follow the theatre of live broadcast sport more easily.
Story Lab is a branch of AKQA’s research and development service with a focus on using the power of storytelling to help clients focus on challenges affecting the world and driving meaningful change. The team operates in three-week design sprints with a focus on journalism, documentary and creative storytelling. Recent projects include the Levi’s Hall of Distractions, an immersive experience in which an average smartphone user’s yearly notifications are condensed and re-performed in a 30 minute cacophony of sound and light.
A research and development initiative that combines multidisciplinary teams performing three-week sprints to develop and deliver tested prototypes to solve business challenges for clients. Everything created during the MVP process is built upon and scaled into a limited-time pilot and validated with customers before becoming a key aspect of our client’s product offering. Projects envisioned in the MVP Studio include Nike Unpack Your City and Nike Create with Air, an AR-enabled zine that allows users to customise the iconic Air Max shoe.
Learn and explore
AKQA Framework acts as a blueprint and operating system to help us continuously improve. It provides guidance, defines the standards, objectives and aspirations we expect from our work, organisation and each other, through a set of principles, concrete goals and metrics. AKQA Framework is an approach to help express our values, ensuring better representation, equity, sustainability and societal contribution.
AKQA Insight is a knowledge sharing platform featuring courses from employees and a series of talks and events from influential authors, athletes, artists and entrepreneurs. Recent guests include winner of the Desmond Elliot Prize author Desmond Owusu, the world’s most respected anthropologist Wade Davies on The Diversity of the Human Spirit and Liz Kilgariff, Former BBC Commissioning Editor discussing Storytelling in the 21st Century.
AKQA’s Antiracism resources contribute to the collective goal of defeating discrimination, by interrogating actions, and committing to change. AKQA is implementing a series of immediate actions, structural changes, industry-initiatives and group-wide commitments to increase people of colour representation.
AKQA Guilds are multidisciplinary communities that ensure representation and inclusivity to openly discuss important themes and conversations. Through diverse members within each guild, we explore the unknown where new ideas are shared, considered, and implemented, delivering higher value to clients.
Strengthening culture and creativity during a time of social distancing, our Melbourne team has created the Work From Home radio station, WFH FM, as a way to stay connected. The online radio station is now streaming 24hrs a day with DJs from across the global AKQA family contributing a round-the-clock program of music and talkback, including bedtime stories for parents and children. Listeners tune in each day from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the United States, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and South America.