Global Health Innovation at the Great Exhibition Road Festival


People move arms in Helix

Festival-goers participating in the Helix Centre study

The festival featured four of the Institute of Global Health Innovation's streams of work.

What can bring together capturing climate emotions on camera, creating interactive art using stroke rehabilitation technology, building your own robot and planning the sequel of a film? It could only be the Great Exhibition Road Festival.

This year, the annual festival of free events celebrating how awe and wonder can inspire science and the arts featured four of the Institute of Global Health Innovation’s streams of work.

Climate Cares 

Climate Cares, where our researchers work to understand the mental health impacts of climate change, supported a photography exhibition. Neal Haddaway’s exhibition ‘Hope? And how to grieve for the planet’, included 42 black and white photographs capturing the emotions of people who work in climate and ecological fields.
Black and white photos of faces in exhibition

Visitors to the exhibition were asked to reflect on their own emotions in response to the climate crisis. Feeling ranged from despair to hope, and questions about future generations (“How will my grandchildren cope?”). One visitor described how they found it interesting to see how the photographed researchers were so affected by their emotions about the climate and ecological crises. Recording those feelings was a springboard for conversations about the importance of coming together and taking action in response to the crises. 

  • Feelings written on paper to answer "How do you feel about the climate and ecological crises?"
  • Feelings written on paper to answer "How do you feel about the climate and ecological crises?"

Healthcare design 

Our Helix Centre offered festival-goers the chance to try their hand at being a designer - reviewing real designs from healthcare or everyday life. The Helix Centre’s work focuses on human-centered design, and works with people to understand their challenges and design products or services that have a positive impact on healthcare. Our 'designers for a day' considered who the designers hadn’t thought of when creating their product, or what works well and why. 

Posters with drawings reviewing designs
Reviews of everyday designs

Meanwhile, those over 16 were invited to participate in the GAMe (Gross Arm Motion Sensing) study. Participants’ arm, hand and finger movement was recorded through a smart watch, in order to improve an algorithm that will ultimately be used for arm rehabilitation for stroke survivors. With thanks to the 100s of visitors who participated, we collected data that will tell us more about what movements the smart watch can and can’t collect. 

Woman in pink shirt moves arm with smart watch to create green shapes on screenWith the same technology, attendees created interactive digital art using the smart watch – with colourful shapes flying over the screen in relation to the direction and size of their movements.  

Next Generation 

In the Next Gen Zone at the V & A Museum, we screened Nexus, a short film drama about the mental health impacts of COVID-19 and the power of connection, based on our CCOPEY study. The first screening of the film had people from around the world watching, and deciding what comes next in the film. Researcher Dr Lindsay Dewa and co-producers Pelumi and Simi discussed potential future stories to tell, based on real life experiences of the film’s audience – ideas ranged from long Covid, to eco-anxiety, to what action the central character would take.

  • "What happens next?" in large text on a wall, with people sticking post it notes on below.

    Viewers of Nexus consider what happens next in the film, and discuss with co-producer Pelumi

  • "What happens next?" in large text on a wall, with many coloured post it notes on below.

    Collecting ideas for the Nexus sequel

One visitor, in considering the question “What happens next?” in the film said it was “very astute that the eating disorder was experienced y a young man.” The young people who co-produced the film had made that decision to break down the stereotype about who experiences eating disorders: not only women.

Awe and Wonder 

The Hamlyn Centre offered a creative family workshop where participants designed and built their own robots from recycled materials throughout the weekend. On the Sunday of the festival, Dr Claire Asher hosted A live recording of the Robot Talk podcast and with guests Dr Glyn Morgan (curator of the Science Museum’s Science Fiction exhibition), Prof Thrishantha Nanayakkara (Imperial College London) and Prof Bani Anvari (University College London). 

"Design a Robot" sign next to cardboard robots

Inspiring awe and wonder among the thousands of visitors was all thanks to our wonderful IGHI volunteers who planned activities, chatted with visitors, explained our work and engaged the public with innovation in global health. 

Follow the Institute of Global Health Innovation on Instagram and Twitter to see more highlights from the Festival. 


Victoria Murphy

Victoria Murphy
Institute of Global Health Innovation