Benchmarking Design for Innovation Policy

In the Action Plan for Design-driven Innovation, the European Commission encourages all European countries and regions to integrate design into innovation policy and develop design action plans. However, building effective national and regional capacity for design is not clear to policy-makers.

This was the rationale behind the doctoral research conducted by Anna Whicher at PDR (the International Design and Research Centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University). 

Innovation policy is based on an analysis of the Innovation Ecosystem – the actors and initiatives in the innovation in a country. Developing a policy for design or integrating design into innovation policy is based on the same concept. Design policy is based on an analysis of the Design Ecosystem. However, policy-makers tend to be economists and therefore require insight into the performance of Design Ecosystems. As such, research was conducted in parallel to leading the SEE network to create a framework of 46 indicators to assess the performance of a Design Ecosystem to inform policy. 

The framework, called the Design Policy Monitor, tested indicators focused on nine components of a Design Ecosystem – users, support, promotion, actions, policy, funding, research, education and designs. The findings from the Design Policy Monitor reveal that between 2012 and 2014 public expenditure on design in Denmark, Estonia, Finland and the UK increased by 34% compared to an increase of 8% for public expenditure on research and development (R&D). This demonstrates that design is climbing the innovation policy agenda across Europe. This framework will be incorporated into the BEDA Cluster on Design Policy led by PDR.

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