The beginning of 2019 marked two years of policy learning within Design4Innovation. To date, we organised 5 knowledge exchange workshops and 45 stakeholder meetings in our regions attended by almost 800 people. The project was promoted at 40 events engaging 1,400 people. Our partners learnt design process and tools useful for developing support programmes, presented 20 good practices in design and innovation support, and we visited 18 different companies or support organisations to study how they have successfully implemented design. 

With still months of interregional learning to go, Design4Innovation project is already bringing about positive results! We are very proud to see that already in three partner regions the lessons learnt are resulting in a real policy change and in further three the change is about to be announced. This would not be possible without effective stakeholder engagement in our regions.

In Galicia, a new regional programme Design for Innovation 2020 was approved by the Regional Government in June 2018. It is aimed at fostering the use and systematisation of design, with special focus on SMEs . You can read more about it our recent blog post. Moreover, GAIN have convinced one of their stakeholders - the Galician Institute for Economic Promotion to add design services to their support programme REACCIONA.

 The Maltese partner, Valletta Cultural Agency positively concluded discussions with the Managing Authority on the funding for establishing Valletta Design Cluster (VDC), a physical space for providing support for start-ups, small businesses and other groups interested in design practice. A total budget of €8,000,000 will be granted by the Government with ERDF contribution. Ideas for the VDC were inspired by the study visit in Wales, among other good practices identified in the project. The Agency is also working closely with their stakeholders – Malta Enterprise and Malta Business Bureau to assess possibility of introducing pilot support scheme for design.

Our project approach has also inspired Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, representative of which took part in knowledge exchange workshop in Valletta. Through engagement in the project and discussions with Barcelona Design Centre, the Ministry have earmarked a budget for a comprehensive study of the Design Sector in Spain.

In Latvia, Design4Innovation has become a true collaboration platform for stakeholders. Dita Danosa, active member of Latvian stakeholder group, has been appointed the director of newly created Latvian Design Centre by the Ministry of Culture. Coordination of centre’s and project’s goals came naturally. Furthermore, LIAA is finalising amendments to the Operational Programme which will allow for a new design voucher programme to be launched!

 Marshal’s Office of Silesia held a series of workshops that allowed them to clarify and formulate recommendations for creating the Action Plan. As a result, a new measure – the Design Observatory will be created. The Observatory will act as a regional network coordinating support and steering the management of the region's development in the area of design.

KEPA, our Greek partner, has managed to convince the Managing Authority to integrate design into a programme that promote SMEs innovation. Last semester, a scheme “Qualitative Modernization” was announced. It includes “service design, product design and branding design” as eligible expenses. Moreover, KEPA successfully launched the Hellenic Design Centre (HDC) initiative. HDC is already working in full swing not only on awareness raising activities such as participating in Thessaloniki Design Week, but also on offering support services to SMEs and public authorities, through a newly created pilot programme – Re:Connect linking SMEs and designers.

VLAIO partnered up with Flanders DC, an organization responsible for the Creative Industries in Flanders, to work on impactful action plan. Together, they compiled a list of existing policy documents and industry reports that are relevant for the field of design and entrepreneurship. Design has a long history in Flanders and the aim is to build on all the material that have already been produced, but also to stay away from the beaten path and experiment with new approaches.

PDR is currently discussing with Welsh Government how to best communicate the value of design to innovation/business advisors and ultimately to businesses, as design gets lost as an eligible cost in innovation support programmes. PDR are also looking at other strategic documents in Wales, such as The Well-being of Future Generations Act and the Economic Action Plan 'Prosperity for All' to see how design can contribute to achieving their social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being goals.

We are excited by all the opportunities brought about by Design4Innovation and look forwards to share more of our learnings.

Photos by Clark Tibbs, Jordan Whitfield, Ana Cruz on Unsplash