Sowing the Seeds of Change: Students Innovate on Social Project!

Written by: Ellen Buckland ,Postgraduate Student of the MCXI in IE

IE´s school of Human Sciences and Technology is home to students of all disciplines, cultures, and walks of life. Students who are embarking on Further Education degrees for a list of reasons far too great to name here, students with different hopes, dreams, and ambitions for their future. Yet one common thread unites many of these young professionals, and that is the desire to make a real difference in their society.

It seems only fitting that Masters programmes from a renowned school like IE would focus on teaching their students about Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, particularly considering the disruptions and impact these are having in traditional business contexts. In the groundbreaking Master in Customer Experience and Innovation (MCXI) students were able to do just this in their Social Impact module which ran from January to April 2019.

Thanks to its core focus on Human Centered Design and Innovation, the MCXI programme has empowered its 40 international students this year with indispensable skills of empathy and creativity which, when combined with design thinking methodologies,  allow them to help companies learn how to become more customer centric. When it comes to Social Impact ventures there can be no doubt about the importance of these skills!

This two-part blog series focuses on one particular collaborative project developed by a multi-disciplinary team of seven MCXI students with their Madrid based client Fundación Tomillo.

Fundación Tomillo is a private, non-profit organisation which was founded in 1983 with a mission to help people in Madrid at risk of exclusion to improve their own situation and contribute to their community. The Foundation´s ultimate goal in all their initiatives is to develop their students´ potential, empowering them through education and training. Its portfolio of projects includes educational programmes for children and young adults, professional training courses, technical workshops and entrepreneurship possibilities.

Tomillo, in English known as Thyme, is a strong healing plant. It is a plant that endures against the odds, and the MCXI students have discovered that this resonates with the determination and drive of the Tomillo entrepreneurs their project focused on.


An entrepreneur with a clear idea is a powerful force to be reckoned with. Ideas for them are like seeds; tiny catalysts of life which can grow stronger under the right conditions. The entrepreneurs who enroll in ITACA, a 3-week long programme designed and imparted by Fundación Tomillo, ultimately want to transform their business idea into a reality!


In the second instalment of this blog we will look at how this team of MCXI students tackled their client´s initial challenge of ´How to improve the digital abilities of ITACA entrepreneurs?´ ultimately reframing it when they discovered a deeper and more pressing need that these users had.

We will explore how a knowledge of Human Centered Design is powerful when designing for social impact and expose some of the challenges that the students faced in their extremely rewarding journey of Social Innovation!


About the Author: Ellen Buckland is a Postgraduate Student of the Master in Customer Experience and Innovation in IE. She is a storyteller, designer, and educator with 6+ years of professional experience in Spain, U.K, and Ireland.

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