Having explored the current design-innovation landscapes in partner regions and the opportunities to influence Operational Programmes, Design4Innovation partners met for a third time to share best practice in design and innovation support for SMEs. The meeting, which took place from 7 to 8 November 2017 in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, was hosted by the Galician Agency of Innovation (GAIN) and focused on financial support mechanisms for SMEs.
At the meeting, the partners all presented cases of support instruments from their regions, looked at the support processes from an applicant/beneficiary perspective using service design tools and held study visits to design-driven businesses in Galicia.
To star with, PDR and the other partners focused on different types of SME support programmes that provide businesses with funding to start-up, innovate or scale-up.
Financial support instruments in the partner regions range from innovation vouchers, grants, loans and equity investment to combined mentoring and funding programmes for young entrepreneurs.
There are dedicated programmes for design (such as grants for conducting design audit and implementing design strategy in Poland) or for creative sectors (like innovation vouchers for collaborative projects with creative industry businesses in Flanders), but most of these address innovation broadly and design is included as an eligible cost. The experience of the partners illustrates that for programmes, where design is not the focus, a more active promotion of design projects eligibility is needed, as businesses are usually unaware of the possibilities and therefore only a small proportion of the funding goes to design related projects.
To conclude the meeting, Lilita Sparāne from the Latvian Ministry of Culture spoke to the partners about the recently launched design strategy ‘Design of Latvia 2020’, which presents a vision for an increased role of design in government, business, education and the citizens.