Honda's Dream Factory has put together a list of 'cultural engineers' - people who embody the Honda philosophy of pushing forward and venturing into the unknown. Photograph: Katelyn Downs Photography/Getty Images/Flickr RF
Set up in honour of the philosophies of the Honda founder, Soichiro Honda, the Dream Factory is all about inspiration.
"Mr Honda's beliefs run right through the company that he created," explains Steve Kirk, Honda's communications manager, and part of the team behind the Dream Factory. "For example, Mr Honda believed that success is 99% failure; in other words, he wanted the people who worked for him to keep trying, not to fear getting something wrong because they would get in trouble with the management, but to feel free to dream dreams and try the impossible. He said: 'We only have one future, and it will be made of dreams if we have the courage to challenge convention.'"
The Dream Factory is a logical extension of that philosophy, searching out "cultural engineers" who embody the Honda philosophy of pushing forward and venturing into the unknown. "We wanted people who were leaders, who were inspirational to others, who also celebrate the power of dreams," says Kirk.
Honda put together a panel to search out possible candidates for the Dream Factory, and then brought them all together last spring.
"That was when the fireworks went off. It was really extraordinary to see all these innovators come together and immediately start connecting, start thinking of ways in which their work might intersect." For Kirk and his team, the real power of the Dream Factory began with that moment.
The Cultural Engineers
Dr Kevin Fong has been taking science by the scruff of the neck since setting up the Space Medicine module at University College London, aged just 28. Now working as an anaesthetist, Fong brings the wonders of modern technology to a wider audience through TV and radio, recently presenting programmes about NASA, the frontiers of heart surgery and life in the universe.
Benedict Radcliffe loves to turn familiar objects such as cars or trainers inside out so that viewers are not quite sure what they are looking at. Working in collaboration with artists and designers including Ron Arad and Patrick Cox, he recently created a series of bikes that quite literally reinvented the wheel. Agents of Change is a global collective of artists with a graffiti background who produce work based as much on materials and situation as on some artistic masterplan. Innovative techniques and cutting-edge ideas mean their work stays true to its roots.
Mark Stevenson wanted to know "what next?" In search of an answer, he travelled the world and spoke to transhumanists (who plan to live forever), toured a space plane, discovered nanotechnology and had a few thoughts on climate change, overpopulation and resource crisis along the way. The result is his book An Optimist's Tour of the Future.
Chris Wheeler loves making a loud noise – and as artistic director of the Heritage Orchestra (HO), working with conductor Jules Buckley, he's spent the past seven years doing just that. Half band, half orchestra, the HO plays cutting-edge, experimental gigs, but always with a focus on entertainment.
David Hieatt founder of ethical clothing company Howies, wants to put people's ideas together, so he has started by putting people together. The Do Lectures started in 2008, and since then have brought a cocktail of chefs, designers, fishermen, inventors, ecologists, osteopaths, builders and more to Cardigan in Wales for four days of talking, eating and listening. It's an annual event in the US now too; people seem to want to talk.
Kevin Harman likes to create art out of what some might call chaos. He rearranges skips, breaks windows, steals doormats and is often right on the edge of what is acceptable. For him, that's the whole point: how else do you force people to think and look at their own actions without pushing them outside their comfort zone?
Katy Dawe & Oliver Hemsley had been friends for many years, but when Oliver was confined to a wheelchair after an unprovoked and vicious stabbing, they began to work together on Art Against Knives. It's morphed from a one-off show – with work donated by Tracey Emin, Cordelia Parker and many others – to a much longer-term project aiming to engage with young people in troubled areas.
Fabien Riggall aims to bring independent cinema to as many people as possible. He created Future Shorts, a worldwide network for short films which showcases wonderful, brain-addling stuff from countries as far afield as Finland, Romania and Paraguay. His latest project, the Next Generation, is a unique multi-country film festival; viewers will be watching in Austria and Australia, Iceland and Indonesia, Poland and the Philippines, the UK and the USA.
Simon Berry had an extraordinary idea. He knew that Coca-Cola can be bought almost anywhere in the world, and he also knew that in some countries in Africa 20% of children die before reaching the age of five. So why not tap into Coca-Cola's distribution network to deliver vital medicines? Years of work have nearly brought this plan to fruition; Berry continues to push.
VOTE FOR ANOTHER CULTURAL ENGINEER
Honda is on the lookout for another cultural engineer to join its Dream Factory and we are giving you the opportunity to vote for that person from a shortlist of five. Once chosen, all of the engineers will be invited to two Guardian hack days on 19 and 20 November to exchange ideas with the Guardian team. Vote and you could win £250 in Amazon vouchers, plus tickets to the event to see these innovators in action.