This year’s BEDA European Design Forum coincided with InnovationID – launch event of Hellenic Design Centre – the first dedicated centre for design in Greece, by our project partner KEPA in Thessaloniki. The day (7 June 2018) was packed with stimulating talks and panel discussions about design as an innovation tool and driver of value for entrepreneurs, public authorities and business at large. Speakers from across Europe shared their expertise on the role of design in market leadership, future trends and vision for design in the EU.

BEDA (The Bureau of European Design Associations) is a network of 50 design centres and associations, and has been the voice of the European design community since 1969. Many BEDA members, including some of the Design4Innovation project partners, are engaging more and more with their local, regional and national governments to bring design up the policy agenda.

In the morning, PDR facilitated Design4Innovation Action Plan Workshop. The European Commission’s ‘Action Plan for Design-driven Innovation’ has been a valuable tool for design stakeholders to inspire their governments to action. However, the EU Design Action Plan is now five years old and with the post-2020 agenda being currently prepared, it is a perfect opportunity to reignite the discussion on what have been achieved and what should be the priorities for design in Europe going forward.

During the workshop, participants explored the strengths and weaknesses of thematic components of the Design Ecosystem and proposed actions to advance the design agenda at European level. Design is an iterative process of divergent and convergent thinking. PDR aims to repeat this divergent thinking stage, seeking a broad range of input and ideas from various stakeholders and collaborators. Then we will refine, consolidate and validate the ideas to engage the European Commission with a coherent message jointly developed with them and that incorporates the perspectives of stakeholders and users.

The thematic areas of discussion focused on:

  • Support & Funding
  • Promotion & Awareness
  • Education & Research
  • Design Sector
  • Public Sector, Government & Policy

A full workshop transcript can be found here.


In the afternoon talks, Anna Athanasopoulou, Head of Unit - Tourism, Emerging and Creative Industries at European Commission, reflected our ideas for design as an enabler of innovation in all sectors.

“Design and creativity-driven innovation is European speciality. It creates jobs and revenue – 4% of European GPD with spill overs on other sectors.”

Anna explained how new trends in technology and innovation shaped the new European strategy for smart, innovative and sustainable industry (EU Industrial Policy Strategy).

“Design needs to be a horizontal enabler of innovation across all sectors”,

said Anna emphasising the importance of design in European economy. She also encouraged us to work on good practices and make the stories of design success more visible for a better, evidence-based policy-making.

Stay tuned for stories of design-driven innovation successes as our partners are working on their cases of good practice and two new programmes for design are being implemented in Design4Innovation partner regions! 

Design4Innovation partners (Valletta 2018 Foundation, PDR and KEPA) in Hellenic Design Centre