BEDA European Design Forum, held in Vilnius on 8th June 2017, brought together design stakeholders representing 19 European countries to debate and co-create the future of design support in Europe. The delegates had a chance to learn, share experience and discuss design support in three panels focused on political, financial and organisational perspectives.

“Design is the 21st century business model”

this quote from John Kampfner’s opening speech could summarize the Forum. The CEO of Creative Industries Federation set the tone for discussions touching on issues that echoed through the rest of the day such as confidently claiming design value, actively engaging with policymakers and enhancing interdisciplinary collaboration to allow for cross-fertilisation between sectors.

This was a perfect opportunity to showcase Design4Innovation, share our ambitions and reach out to broader audiences. In a spotlight session on European collaborative design projects Dr Anna Whicher, Design4Innovation Project Manager, presented our aims and activities, and invited everyone to capitalise on our learnings in the future. Design Projects Spotlight Sessions are part of BEDA’s initiative ‘EU Design Database’, which aims to establish a bank of knowledge and insight from European collaborations on design. Dr Anna Whicher:

“Through Design4Innovation we want to enable policymakers to experience design process and hope that they will become design champions, not only including design into support programmes for businesses, but also using design approach for inclusive policymaking.”


However, this was not the only presentation that talked about Design4Innovation. Olivier Chassagne, Policy Officer at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW), presenting the European policy perspective on design, mentioned Design4Innovation as part of the European Commission’s ambitions for design.

There was a significant interest in Design4Innovation project activities and some regions have already asked about a possibility of replicating our Design Ecosystem Mapping workshop. We look forward to engaging with all European regions to elevate the role of design on their innovation agenda and help their SMEs grow by design.