iDROPS = social innovation. We were founded in 2010. However the concept has been evolving in the imagination of Nathalie Goethals for much longer. She dreamed of building an organization that takes a practical approach on social innovation. Nathalie has been fascinated by everything that has to do with innovation since she was a child. She is driven to help people like a real problem solver.
Laura Vantornaut - Project Designer New Learning/Sustainability
Ever thought that you knew a loud talker? Then you never met Laura. She’s not a morning person, but wants to move into her new house soon. She’s crazy about Justin Bieber and the cooking channels on YouTube. Laura likes to make things herself, like clothes, furniture or a nice meal. Hobby? Currently rebuilding. And oh yes, South Africa is her travel destination of choice!
Tennis player and beer brewer. Luckily usually not at the same time. Jens is a real bon vivant, the type who likes to have smiling faces and sparkling eyes all around him. However, it's best to keep your preconceived notions to yourself. He is in love with Argentina, or at least with an Argentinean beauty. Her passion and perseverance = his great source of inspiration!
He’s at home in the city or wandering around in nature. Nathan likes to cook whatever he finds in the fridge and has a thing for people with a story. Injustice encourages him to take action, but he also likes to kick back in Curaçao. He previously worked as an artistic collaborator on 'De Vieze Gasten' (The Dirty Guys) and sometimes dares to try out a piece of opera…in the shower!
She’s not afraid to speak her mind and a stubborn go-getter. Eastern religions and philosophies made such an impression on her that she can't stand incompetent people and statements. Often caught binge watching Ben Foggle's New Lives In The Wild, which clearly does something to her enormous imagination.
If Hendrikje wants something, then she really goes for it! Co-creation, design and long distance travel are definitely her thing. Preferably to Guinea or Morocco. In her spare time you can find her on a surfboard, or a yoga mat. And oh yeah, Hendrikje doesn't like indifference and she wants more equal opportunities for everyone. That means you too.
Perhaps the quietest one in the group, but don’t let that fool you. Dirk loves zipping around on his racing bike and jazz. He cringes at polarization and prefers to look for solutions. Secretly he likes to belt out old disco songs with his daughter! In a previous life he was a journalist. If he could have been anything, he would have been a seasoned Flandrien.
Croquettes, croquettes? Sure! Anna loves a good croquette. She wakes up every day with a tune in her head, she's curious by nature and loves to figure out insignificant dilemmas. Welding is her hobby and she draws inspiration from the forest. Iceland left a big impression on her and Anna also has a membership card of the CAI (Club Against Injustice).
If ridiculous jokes are to be made, he's our man. His musical taste ranges from Dylan, to Coltrane to Aphex Twin. Chilling in the sun, reading, playing music and sports, Sven is well versed in all of these. But beware if you dare to be arrogant or egocentric. And when are they going to tackle this climate problem?
"I actually created my own dream job," says Nathalie Goethals. "In the beginning, our focus was on practical digital innovation and digital tools. At the time, it was all very innovative, so this was actually a huge gamble. But I was absolutely convinced that this was going to be all right." In her former job, Nathalie saw that in Scandinavia and in some English-speaking countries, multidisciplinary cooperation had already taken place on a more frequent basis. "I noticed that they brought together a wide variety of people from different backgrounds. This led to the craziest, most innovative solutions for societal challenges for which there is no turn-key answer. I thought, we should be doing this in Flanders."
Frowned eyebrows and derisive laughter
With a lot of enthusiasm and perseverance, Nathalie got out there and made some noise. The focus was on the social field and the creative industry. One of the first projects was 'Digital Solutions for Poverty'. Here and there eyebrows were raised and people laughed at the idea that you could help people out of poverty through digital means. However, there were also positive reactions, including from the City of Ghent and the then Flemish Minister of Scientific Research & Innovation, Ingrid Lieten. It soon became clear that almost everything iDROPS did, was socially inspired. The social innovation agency was born! In the beginning, !DROPS mainly relied on volunteers. At the end of 2014 Bart became the first employee, until September 2016. Meanwhile Hendrikje had joined, followed by Jens and Anna. These days the team consists of nine people. All different in terms of background, but with the same idealism, work ethic and passion.
Business world and abroad
One of the most memorable moments in the history of iDROPS was the mission to Portugal with King Filip and Queen Mathilde. A state visit in the context of social innovation. This resulted in a collaboration with Impact Hub Lisbon.
Winning the Henry Van de Velde Award in the category community was another highlight. iDROPS received that award in 2018 for Peacecraft, a participatory theatre and an interactive game about young refugees, developed together with Pax Christi. "In the future, we would like to focus more on projects abroad," says Nathalie. "Of course, this does not mean that we will abandon Flanders. Here, we are going to focus more on the business world. In the area of consultancy, we also want to offer our knowledge and expertise to companies. We notice that there’s still skepticism about what we do. Well, that definitely doesn't stop us from going for it every day and striving for solid growth. Our mission is to improve people's lives as much as possible. That's what this team is all about (laughs)."