PDR, Cardiff Metropolitan University
What is Design for Innovation?
Design for Innovation (Design4Innovation) is a collaborative project of eight European partners working together to promote design as a tool for user-centred innovation. Design4Innovation aims to help small and medium enterprises create more desirable products and services, be more profitable and grow faster; ultimately enhancing competitiveness of European SMEs. The project corresponds with the European Commission’s ‘Action Plan for Design-driven Innovation’ (2013), which states that: "A more systematic use of design as a tool for user-centred and market-driven innovation in all sectors of the economy, complementary to R&D, would improve European competitiveness. Analyses of the contribution of design show that companies that strategically invest in design tend to be more profitable and grow faster."
The Commission encourages all EU Member States and Regions to develop Design Action Plans. However, the route to building capacity for design-driven innovation in SMEs is not clear for policy-makers. Through interregional knowledge exchange, we will identify best practice in design support mechanisms for SMEs and engage with policy-makers to integrate support instruments for design into the ERDF operational programmes and other policy documents.
At the end of the knowledge exchange phase in 2019, we have achieved impressive results:
8 Action Plans with a total of 27 actions addressing 12 different policy documents; Action Plans were developed based on insights from 77 Policy Learning events that engaged over 1000 people; that includes 7 knowledge exchange workshops and study visits, as well as stakeholder group meetings in our partner regions; Further 2000 people were engaged in 57 Dissemination events, including a high-level 'International Design Policy Roundtable' and ‘Innovation by design’ exhibition during 2018 Valletta European Capital of Culture celebrations; Our project website is one of the most popular websites among second call projects hosting over 2000 sessions every semester; All 80 people, closely involved in project, reported increased professional capacity, and 70% of them to 'a large degree'.
To better inform evidence-based policy-making, we monitored the impact and evaluated effectiveness of implemented mechanisms during 24-month monitoring phase. At the end of 2021 the final impact monitoring exercise revealed that we manged have mobilized over €13.6m of new investment in design (that is seven-fold return in investment in our project) which directly benefited over 620 small businesses and many more indirectly. And most of the support initiatives influenced by Design4Innovation are still continued to be delivered and will create more impact in the future.
Among other initiatives our project has managed to influence the following policy changes:
In Malta - creation of Valletta Design Cluster which has become one of the Interreg Europe impact stories. In Galicia - launch of a new comprehensive support package 'Deseño para a Innovación 2020'. In Latvia - introduction of a 'Design Voucher' scheme. In Wales extension of support provided through SMART programme for Design & Manufacturing, as well as a new 'Design in Innovation Strategy' for the UK. In Flanders a new study on the impact of design sector has helped to inform a new strategy for design-driven innovation. In parallel, the Flemish partner launched a series of advisory and networking services for businesses and designers. In Greece, design have been included in two major support programmes for SMEs. In Silesia, new design advisory service for small businesses have been implemented, as well as development work for creation of 'Design Observatory' has begun. In Catalonia, BcD introduced a new protocol of creation based on open innovation processes for designers using new technologies, and also mobilised the entire Spanish Design Ecosystem to discuss the national design strategy.
In 2022, we continue to create more impact through Interreg Europe 5th call extension activities.