photo Sebastien Coell

Creating Connections for the Next Economy: MScRes relational design at Pontio, North Wales

Wellbeing is intimately linked to connection –  to other people, but also to place. Relational design creates those connections. If you – or someone on your staff –  would like to spend a year developing a project to do with wellness, adventure, tourism, and education, this one year research masters is for you.

(I’m teaching on the course as its senior advisor. This web page is my personal take; the official page is here).

Connecting assets – place, people, knowledge, technology – can create new value, livelihoods, and enterprise. But assets do not readily connect themselves. Relational Design is about connecting the ‘what is?’, with the ‘what if?’ in a regional context. By enabling collaboration at the level of systems in particular places, Relational Design turns promising ideas into services, livelihoods, and enterprises.

Course Overview
The one-year Masters by Research in Relational Design is people and place-centred, technology enabled, and design led. You will learn – by doing it – how to develop a shared perception of new opportunities, and how turn those opportunities into enterprise and livelihoods. You will acquire practical skills in the use of prototypes, and performance, when developing place-based products and services. You will learn about business model innovation; metrics and measures of success; new ways of working together fairly.

The Relational Design Masters is based in, and is part of, Bangor University’s Pontio Centre. This thriving arts and innovation centre – the word Pontio means ‘bridge’ in Welsh – connects education, research, and local communities across North West Wales and beyond.

Acting as a pollinator among social and business actors, Pontio Innovation curates connections with world-class expertise in Bangor University: environmental science, forestry, human geography, sport science and psychology, computer science and electronic engineering. A global network of alumni, and current and potential partners, completes the Pontio Innovation picture.

Research Project

The research project at the centre of your Masters is defined during the first phase of the programme. As a starting point, we have identified the following opportunity areas for projects: Wellbeing, Adventure, Tourism. Projects envisaged, for example, include: Tourist Office as Platform; Re-inventing the High Street; Food and Farming; Urban-Rural Re-connection, Smart Villages, New Rural Economy.

The Masters is based on a live project that, with our help, you define. The course features business interaction, field-trips and visits to world-class companies. Small group dynamics ensure direct interaction with the Pontio Innovation community – and, internationally, with respected specialists.

Because it is based on a live project, your research will be be delivered in three ways: a Business Proposal, an Exhibition, and a public Presentation to stakeholders and peers. Our faculty will help you develop and tell your story effectively. The Relational Design Masters is residential, and runs full time from September to August. The course language is English.

Pontio’s advanced manufacturing facilities, and flexible theatrical facilities, provide an inspirational stage for students, working with their external partners, to imagine, design and test possible future scenarios. In this way you practice new ways of working in next economy from the outset.

Course Content and Structure
The Masters in Relational Design is a research-based degree, but is not purely academic. The required outcomes include prototyping and performance. You will put research into practice.

Your research topic might be an existing project idea – perhaps inspired by an industry, government or anchor institution from your own territory – or you may define a research topic once you arrive in Bangor.

The year is divided into four phases. There will be some overlap between these, but the formal waypoints below are designed to ensure that you cover all necessary elements.

Phase One: Discover (September-December)
As you immerse yourself in the region, and connect to people and place, a series of short, intensive design exercises, with coaching, will acquaint you with tools and methods to be used later on. We will introduce you to our FabLab (woodwork, digital composite 3D printing, laser cutting and other advanced manufacturing equipment) and explain the creative group processes used in our CoWorking space.

Phase Two: Define
Relational design is about making connections between social, natural and cultural assets, and building the cooperation platforms by which they can work together. In January, you will prepare a first version of your project proposal; this is presented at a formal Project Proposal Crit at the end of the month. With feedback from that Crit, you will further develop and refine your project proposal in February.

Phase Three: Develop and Deliver
Once you have prepared your Business Proposal, Exhibition, and Public Presentation, examination will be by Viva Voce; this takes place before the public presentation and exhibition of your work. The Viva will be before an internal examiner, external examiner, and chair. The course continues, intentionally, until August to give you time for reflection. and to prepare the next stage of your innovation research journey.

Phase Four: Reflection and Future Planning (July, August)
After the Viva, and the Exhibition and Public Presentation, we have allocated two months for you first, to reflect on what you have learned so far; and second, plan the actions needed to implement your project, locally or back home. Our team will be available to provide feedback and mentoring throughout this final phase.

Pontio Innovation
Pontio Innovation’s facilities encourage playful and productive interactions among people who might not normally meet. In addition to the Relational Design masters, Pontio Innovation’s facilities and activities include a Co Lab (Collaboration Laboratory), a Fab LaB (Fabrication Laboratory) and White Box (10 m x 10 m  space) for showcasing.

Co Lab (Collaboration Laboratory)
A creative learning space called Co Lab accommodates groups and teams of different sizes. Scanning, printing and large-screen display equipment, as well as craft and modelling tools, are available when needed.

Co lab configured for team work and for more formal engagements

The Co Lab’s staff deliver courses on collaboration design, and how to lead multi-disciplinary teams. 

A new Co Lab course called Working Together Fairly: History, Models, New Tools is designed to give non-specialists a solid grounding in Sharing and Peer-to-Peer models, Platform Co-ops, blockchain, bitcoin, Loomio, Liquid Democracy and more.

Pontio Innovation also hosts regular community and business networking events, research presentations, talks, and discussions. These often lead to serendipitous encounters between business, social innovators, and researchers: adventure sport and mixed reality gaming; biorefining and wellness products; supply chain software for regional food systems.

Fab Lab (Fabrication Laboratory)
In Pontio Innovation’s well-equipped Fab Lab, industry members and students acquaint themselves with the latest machines and techniques. They use these to make product and service prototypes at the earliest stage of the development process. Fab Lab staff are also connected to the 500-strong North Wales Tech Community and other makers and engineering companies.

Recent Fab Lab projects include:

Bionic Boy: A local father created this prosthetic arm for son using our 3D scanning and 3D printing facilities. He went on to establish a business, Ambionics, that helps others families in the same situation all over the world.

Medical Devices: A local design firm, UW, used Pontio’s FabLab to create early prototypes of innovative medical devices for their client, Creo Medical. The ability to prototype designs early and quickly has helped Creo commercialise medical devices in Japan, China, USA, Europe and UK.

Mould-to-order chocolate: Wales’ first bean-to-bar chocolatiers, Baravellis, based in Conwy, have used Pontio Innovation’s 3D printing and vacuum forming kit, to develop unique custom chocolate moulds

Is it a bird? Ornithologist Sarah Bond used our 3D digital printing technology to create a decoy fulmar based on a 3D scan of a real fulmar. The decoy was subsequently placed in bird nests to protect them from predators whilst living birds were removed for examination.

White Box
A 3D blank canvas, the White Box is a versatile 10x10m two story space. Inviting imagination, the White Box has been used for immersive augmented experiences, product design showcasing, karate and origami interactions, workshops and contemporary art exhibitions.

Collaborative projects

Pontio Innovation is involved locally and internationally in networks developing new business, collaboration and governance models such as Cooperation Platforms, Transition and Territorial Design, Health, Wellness, and Tourism.

Local Collaboration – Enterprise by Design
Students from diverse disciplines across Bangor University work for a real-world client on this ten-week course hosted by Pontio Innovation. Each team – a local firm, plus students and academics from diverse disciplines – explores the use of prototypes, and performance, to develop exploratory products and services.

Global Collaboration – elop*
In elop*, an international network of universities works together on social and environmental projects at the service of place. Elop themes have included Place-Based Health, Food and Health, Swimming as Social Infrastructure, Future Urban Sports, Learning Campus, High Street Futures. In each edition of Elop, multi-disciplinary teams work on a complex project in partnership with local communities and experts. Students learn about collaboration in situ; they also use virtual techniques and tools.

North West Wales and the City of Bangor
North West Wales is one of Europe’s most resilient regions. Its social and ecological assets include undamaged land; clean air and biodiversity; abundant water; long seashores; low population density. Its deeply-rooted language and culture are sustained by dense social networks in which land, mind and spirit continue, powerfully, to resonate.

Tourism: Conwy Caste (left) and The Menai Suspension Bridge with Snowdonia in background (right);

Wales leads the world with its Well-being of Future Generations Act. Public bodies, and their many suppliers, are required to think and act long term, and to take a more joined-up approach, to economic, social and ecological development. Any project that receives government support must consider seven Wellbeing Goals. Wales’ new ecomuseum, Ecoamgueddfa, is inspiring evidence that North West Wales as an alternative learning destination in its own right.

The region boasts a network of small companies. This business ecosystem spans extreme sports, wellness, health and adventure tourism, boat building, land-based learning, biorefining, grain and fibre networks, food projects – and a community of small but leading edge technology companies.

Adventure: mountaineering in Snowdonia (left) and ZipWorld velocity (right)

Many of the region’s schools, community hubs, farms, shops, and learning centres are looking for new ways to engage with new publics, and in new ways. Their innovations already include citizen science and ecological artist residencies; maker centres; land-based learning; coding in the countryside. Fast growing economic sectors include biofuels, wind power, organic farming and waste management.

Environmental organisations such as the Environment Agency, Countryside Council for Wales, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and the British Trust for Ornithology, have regional offices based in Bangor); so, too, do government research institutes such as Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Bangor, the oldest city in Wales, is nestled between the frosted peaks of the Snowdonia National Park, and the turbulent waters of the Menai Straits. Bangor is also home to the UK’s oldest cathedral.

Bangor University: Main ARTS Building (Top) and Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre (bottom)

The university’s historic Main Arts Building sits at the top of a valley next to the new Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre. The latter is a physical and cultural link 
between university, city, and region.

Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre

The Relational Design Masters is based in, and is part of, Bangor University’s Pontio Centre. This thriving arts and innovation centre – the word Pontio means ‘bridge’ in Welsh – connects education, research, and local communities across North West Wales and beyond.

Located at the foot of the University’s Main Arts building, the centre boasts a theatre, cinema, numerous dining areas, interactive lecture rooms, the Students’ Union and an entire floor dedicated to innovation and the use of cutting-edge technology.

Pontio adds significantly to the amenities within Bangor and the surrounding areas for the economic, social and cultural benefit of both the University and of the wider community. Pontio lives up to its name and its vision by providing a bridge between various facets of the University and the community within north-west Wales.

Bryn Terfel Theatre (top) and social spaces in the foyer of Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre (bottom)

A Vertical Dance performance on the exterior of THE Pontio Centre

Participants on the international elop programme – through theatrical exercises as part of team formation.

‘Veillance’ by designer in residence Ronan Devlin shows us what we show others through our mobile communications.

Work and career prospects

The Masters in Relational Design is for those who wish to:

develop an existing project idea – perhaps in collaboration with an industry, government or institution from your own territory;
find employment in the public or private sectors in one of the sectors described above – for example with a global wellness, travel, or hospitality brand;
start a new enterprise; or
work in regional development or innovation policy, or in the research economy.

The Masters equips you with practical skills in the design, prototyping, and piloting of new products and services, and business model innovation. The key capabilities of Relational Design are:

scoping for opportunities in the region, and emerging models elsewhere;
curation of actors and stakeholders;
collaboration design such as new ways of meeting, and deciding;
prototyping so that ideas are embodied, jot just described;
performance to rehearse the experience of using a new service

Your employability will further be enhanced by evidence (your research project) of your ability to work independently, to think analytically and creatively, and to conceptualise and question. You will also develop essential communication, teamwork and leadership skills.

North Wales, with its network of dynamic small firms, can be the basis of innovations in a wide variety of adventure and sport activities: climbing, running, diving, kayaking, camping, mountain biking, tree climbing, zip-wiring, and more. Research partners might include global travel or wellness brands, app developers, or public health initiatives such as the UK’s Active Forestry programme. (According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Adventure Tourism is the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry; the projected job growth for the health and wellness industries as a whole, from 2014 to 2024, is 13 percent – a faster rate of growth than most other fields).

Many governments are pushing in diverse ways to increase citizen activity outdoors and in the countryside. In the UK, organisations like Sport England are already developing programmes in partnership with the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA). An opportunity for Bangor could be to innovate Business Improvement Districts for Bioregions.

How to Apply

We invite applications from mid-career professionals or graduates of architecture, design, engineering and business; applicants with other backgrounds, such as ecology, or geography, are also welcome. All applicants are judged on their individual merits, plus work or business experience.
International Students

We have many years’ experience of making offers of entry based on qualifications awarded worldwide; we welcome applications from international students. Should your project lead to an opportunity to remain in the region after graduation, the timing and outputs of the Masters programme align with a Tier I visa application.

Entry will require a qualification deemed to be equivalent in level to the UK bachelor degree.

International applicants are normally required to provide evidence of English language proficiency.
The minimum English language requirements will normally be:

IELTS 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each individual component score
Pearson PTE: a score of 62 (with no element lower than 58)
Cambridge English Test – Advanced: 176 (with no element lower than 169)

For information and further detailed guidance on entry requirements for International Students, including the minimum English Language entry requirement, please visit the Entry Requirements by Country pages on the International Education Centre section of our website.


To indicate the types of research project we have in mind, here are some project scenarios:

Co-op Grains Platform
Social Farming

Coders in the Countryside
Tree Care Services
Beyond Adventure Sport
Beauty and Biorefining
Connected Botanic Garden
New Uses for Welsh Chapels
Local shops as service hubs
Tourist Office As Platform
Bike Friendly Infrastructure

1: A Platform for the Co-op Grains Movement

Between Autumn 2015 and Autumn 2016, in an artist-led project called A Field Of Wheat, a collective made up of 42 members of the public, the food industry, farming community, artists and researchers become active stakeholders in a field of wheat in Branston Booths, Lincolnshire, England.

Following two years of research into the culture and economics of wheat growing on a local and global scale, the Field of Wheat project meant building relationships with the region’s farmers, representatives of the farming industry, local historians, and researchers.

A direct outcome of this experiment is a project called – the live prototype of a co-op grains movement. Sixty citizens have each invested in a farmer’s field for a year. Together with the farmer, they decide what to grow, how to grow it and what happens with the crop.

#OurField is a shared farming experience: It supports farmers financially and emotionally, and  connects mostly city people to what it takes to grow food.

#OurField is brilliant experiment. It has huge potential. But building on this opportunity is easier said than done. As is true for most pioneers, the founders and organisers of #OurField lack the time and space to build the co-operation platform they know is needed.

So, one project scenario for the #api_MRRD masters is easily described: an ideal candidate would spend spend a year developing the prototype of an #OurField platform – together with the movement’s founders, a farmer from the North Wales region, and relevant other partners.

2: Welsh Chapels and Coworking

The 6,426 chapels in Wales (like Capel Salem chapel in Pwllheli, above) were once at at the heart of community life in remote communities.

There are numerous ways chapels could be be part of the next economy, too – but these ways need to be designed, and with diverse collaborators.

Possibilities range from CoWoLi (Coworking-Coliving), or new kinds of creative residencies, to learning hubs and new kinds of school.

3: Connected Botanic Garden

When the first botanical gardens were established 3,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, they combined scientific enquiry with public education.

Today’s botanical gardens and ecomuseums are looking for new ways to engage citizens – and as active participants, not just as paying visitors. These new relationships need to be designed, enabled and supported.

One #api_MRRD project scenario could be to work with Tregorth Botanic Garden (top); develop new relationships; and design a platform to enable them. An inspiring example of this approach was envisaged by @DubberlyDesign in their project Engaging members to re-imagine National Geographic. See also #RethinkingParks

At Pontio, in North Wales, a new Masters by Research in Relational Design (#api_MRRD) helps you make a positive step-change in a live wellness project for a region. Here is one project scenario: develop a service, or platform, to meet the growing need for social farming. Scroll down for other project ideas. (Shown above: a formerly abandoned city farm in Milan has been given new life as a multi–functional centre).

We all have to eat, and the health of the soils, watersheds and biodiversity is in all our interests – so why should farmers do it all on their own? Interest is growing in ways by which citizens can play a practical role. The social, educational and health benefits of social farming can be huge – but they need to be organised.

Care farms can create social value as convivial locations for young or elderly people in need. In Ireland, dozens of farms enable city people to participate in  farm activities in a non-clinical environment. The practice reconnects farmers with their local community as part of the social support system. And in Scotland, Whitmuir Learning Farm is a thriving hub hub for myriad activities: cooking, composting, seed swaps, bird, soil and wildlife courses.

Growing, harvesting and processing food can be a shared activity, too. In a project called #OurField in England, 40 citizens co-invest in a farmer’s field for a year; together with the farmer they decide what to grow, how to grow it and what happens with the crop.

Many citizens already participate in the regeneration of forests, meadows, and rivers. Government funding for High Nature Value Farming schemes expand the range of possibilities; farmers are rewarded for biodiversity improvement, and value-creating work is needed to look after pastures, meadows and orchards, as well as large hedges and copses. High Nature Value farming can also be a source of new produce – from herbs used in biorefining, to artisan cheeses. 

Marginal and neglected woodlands can also be the basis of new social enterprise. A pilot programme in the UK, which involves 50 woodland social enterprises, is exploring new  ideas that that span woodfuel and timber, to woodlands being used in an educational or health and well-being setting.

At Pontio, in North Wales, a new Masters by Research in Relational Design (#api_MRRD) helps you make a positive step-change in a live wellness project for a region.

One project scenario could be to develop a tool, and a collaboration platform, to monitor the health of nature in new ways.

Just one gram of forest soil can contain more microorganisms than there are people on earth, and hundreds of meters of fungal mycelia. Two questions arise: how did they count them? and, second, what’s that got to do with human health and wellness?

The convergence of citizen science, and digital craft, is driven by a simple idea: the health of all living systems, including our own, are part of the same story. Soil health, human health, microbiomes, biodiversity, the climate – all are connected.

So if growth, in a region, were to mean soils, biodiversity and watersheds getting healthier, we’d need to measure their health. If value were to arise from relationships among living systems – and not things – we’d need to put systems in place to monitor progress, and feed back results.

Digital tools can help us perceive the living world in new ways – but this is not just a design task. Biologists, designers, engineers, artists and educators need to be involved in the development of new devices. A pioneer in this field, @Naturebytes (see photos above) is growing an engaged community of engineers, scientists, designers and enthusiasts to create new ways to reconnect with wildlife and living systems.

One project scenario could involve performance equipment for professional arborists.

In hundreds of cities around the world, mayors and citizen groups are planting trees – to provide shade, reduce ambient heat, improve air quality, assist with storm water runoff, and improve public amenity. Community groups, too, are starting forests on school campuses and brownfield sites; in the North of England, funding is available for the community care and management of local woods In New York ‘s Street Tree Census hundreds of volunteers explore their neighborhood, meet new people, and map trees using a fast-growing Open Tree Map. On a somewhat larger scale, China is committed to cover nearly a quarter of the country with forests by 2020.

But planting trees is just the start. A wide variety of activities and equipment – and a lot of knowledge-sharing – are involved in the management of tree populations. Trees have to be climbed, pruned, inspected, and surveyed. Seeds must be collected  from notable trees, and foliage sampled for research purposes. Specialist courses and industry guidance must be delivered for tree climbers and forest managers.

A love of trees and forests has fostered a growing variety range of spin-off activities. These range from: Forest Schools  and different approaches to edible forest gardens and edible forests Other activities include tree-climbing competitions and camping in trees You can even participate in Applied Splicing Workshops

In North Wales, DMM is a world leaders in the design of high-performance equipment for professional arborists – or ‘arbs’ (who describe their work as ‘veterinary care for trees’). And it’s not just about hardware. Because public money is often involved, safety regulations can means that every bit of kit needs its own certificate of conformance. Together with another local firm, Paper Trail, DMM has launched an Identity and Information Management platform, DMM iD, in which RFID technology is used to make carabina scannable and checkable anywhere in the world. It’s a far cry from a man, a rope, and an axe.

At Pontio, in North Wales, a new Masters by Research in Relational Design (#api_MRRD) is designed to help you make a positive step-change in a live wellness project for a region.

One project scenario could be to re-invent Outward Bound as a co-operation platform that connects citizens, sports adventure companies, and public bodies.

Born in Wales in 1941, Outward Bound began as a school on the coast of Wales that helped train seamen for the harsh life of working at sea. The model soon expanded to include outdoor, adventure-based, programs that enabled individuals and groups to explore nature and test their physical and mental strength.

Today, more than half of European adults are overweight; obesity has tripled in many European countries since the 1980s. Governments have started to start taxing unhealthy food and beverages – but they struggle to connect health, sport, and education programmes. The focus of the private sector, too, has been on transactions – “sell more adventures” – than on longer-term, system-wide relationships.

On the plus side, millions more people than one might think already engage with the natural environment. They visit the countryside, enjoy green spaces in towns and cities, watch wildlife, and volunteer to help protect the natural environment.

What’s missing are networks and connections. A Relational Design masters could be a timely opportunity to reinvent Outward Bound as a cooperation platform that connects citizens, sports adventure companies, and public bodies.

The elements of a thriving bio-economy exist in Wales – but they are disconnected. One project scenario could be a product-service platform that links biorefining and beauty.

Natural ingredients have the potential to transform everyday products in ways that enhance wellness – from skin care, to coffee bags. Citizens want this to happen: demand for all things natural, local, and small scale, is huge.

The elements of a thriving bio-economy exist in Wales – but they are disconnected. The country’s uplands, for example, are filled with grasses, colourful wild flowers. A variety of citizen researchers, meanwhile, are exploring the cosmetic, culinary, medicinal and aromatic potential of the region’s plants. There is processing expertise, too: Bangor’s Biocomposites Centre has plans to develop a network of grassland micro-refineries that would produce fibres, proteins and oils on a regional scale. Above all there is a market need – for biopolymers, packaging, essential oils, cosmetics, personal care products, nutraceuticals.

A Relational Design masters can be about connecting this patchwork of human, ecological and technical potential. What’s probably needed are a product, a field-to-face trading platform, and a sustainable business model.

The new Masters by Research in Relational Design (#api_MRRD) is hosted by Arloesi Pontio Innovation (API) and based in Pontio, a new arts centre at Bangor University in North Wales.

The region is one of the most resilient in Europe. It enjoys clean air, spectacular landscapes, unspoiled soils, abundant biodiversity, low population density – and ancient but still thriving cultural roots.

A thriving ecosystem of companies in North Wales ranges from world-leading outdoor, extreme sports and adventure tourism, to biorefining, grain and fiber networks, maker networks, boat builders. There’s also a 500-strong North Wales Tech Community.

Project Scenario 9: High Street Shops As Service Hubs

The global meltdown of transactional retail presents an opportunity: co-create new services in which location, connection, and social co-presence, are key.
 Imagine, for example, the high street itself as an as hotel: rooms are owned and run by different people; multiple services (food, experiences, cycle access, adventure) are delivered by local actors – Co-working/CoLiving developed in diverse ways. (Above: Alibaba’s expreimental project in China to turn a local convenience store into a multi-service hub).

Project Scenario 10: Tourist Office As Platform 

New kinds of tourism are emerging that connect city and country in new ways – learning journeys, food routes, Green Grand Tours – and tomorrow’s tourist office will enable those connections on a continuous basis. It will partner, too, with new kinds of destination: watersheds, bioregions, industrial heritage, wool and fibre makers, urban nature. By acting as a platform, tomorrow’s tourist office will enable new actors to prototype new services, and transition from a transactional to a relational model of service.

Project Scenario 11: Bike Friendly Infrastructure
 & Services

Nine millions people took cycling holidays in France last year, and Vienna has committed to move 80 percent of parcel delivery onto cargo bikes. Physical infrastructure is a modest part of these transformations. Co-ordination among local government agencies; support services for cyclists (repair, food, accommodation, maps, laundry); and consultation with other road users; all these are mission critical. 



Wellbeing is intimately linked to connection –  to other people, but also to place, and the living systems that inhabit it. Relational design creates those connections.

The #api_MRRD Masters is not theoretical. Structured around a live project. you will learn creative ways to connect the “what is?” with the “what if?” in ways that create new livelihoods and sustainable enterprises.

Your research will be delivered in the form of a Business Proposal, an Exhibition, and a public Presentation to stakeholders and peers. The Lab’s experts will help you develop and tell your story effectively.

Relational Design is not just about start-ups. It’s also about connecting with anchor and legacy institutions.

Heritage buildings can be restored as Coworking/Coliving (CoWoLi) sites. Chapels, pubs, libraries, regional  museums, hostels, post offices, local shops – all can be enhanced hubs for new kinds of activity.

The masters course is supported by expertise in depth at Bangor University: sport science, extreme environments, health sciences, medical and neuroscience research, environmental sciences, and soil science.

The home-base of the #api_MRRD course is a new arts and performance centre, Pontio; it has facilities and expertise to match. The course is also connected internationally with networks developing new business and governance models such as Cooperation Platforms.

Is this Masters for you?

The Masters in Relational Design course is for those who wish to:
– develop a project or business idea – perhaps in collaboration with an industry, government or anchor institution from your own territory;
– find employment in the public or private sectors;
– start a new enterprise; or
– work in regional development or innovation policy.

The course is residential, and runs full time from September to August. The course language is English. To get in touch please email Sara Roberts,


I first learned that North Wales as a living laboratory for innovation back in 2011. Here is my story from that first visit: From Druids, to Biorefineries: Innovation In A Small Nation

My input to this new Pontio masters also builds on lessons learned in our xskool workshops over recent years. In diverse contexts, we asked the same question: If the health of people, and the places where we live, are connected, what kinds of enterprise can help city and rural thrive together? 

The story-so-far is summarised in Back To The Land 2.0 – A Design Agenda For Bioregions.  See also my my recent interview with @DomusWeb When Value Arises From Relationships, Not From Things