Since 2010, when design was included in European innovation policy for the first time (Innovation Union), the design policy landscape in Europe has transformed. Not only is there an Action Plan for Design-driven Innovation at the European level but a number of European Member States, including Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France and Latvia, have also developed design action plans. Furthermore, there is a growing awareness of design as factor for innovation at regional and local levels with a number of regions integrating design into policy, including Flanders (Belgium), South Bohemia (Czech Republic), Central Finland, Central Macedonia (Greece) and Wales (UK) among others, as well as an increasing number of design managers in local public authorities, including, for example, Lahti (Finland), St. Etienne (France), Katowice (Poland) and Shropshire (UK). The SEE Platform is a network of 11 European partners engaging with government to build capacity for design-driven innovation. At the SEE Design, Innovation and Policy Conference on 10th February 2015 in the Flemish Parliament in Brussels, the SEE partners presented the trends we anticipate for design-driven innovation in Europe by 2020:
• Policy-makers across Europe will integrate design more holistically within innovation policies as well as smart specialisation strategies and some will develop design action plans.
• Governments will seek to build design capabilities with small and medium-sized enterprises by integrating design as an eligible cost within innovation programmes such as mentoring, subsidy, tax credit and export schemes as well as developing dedicated design support programmes.
• Governments will develop their internal capacities for design-driven innovation by training staff in design methods, employing design managers and establishing multi-disciplinary innovation units such as MindLab in Denmark, the Cabinet Office Policy Lab in the UK and Experio Lab in Sweden.
• Public sector administrators will recognise design as an enabler of innovation in multiple policy domains such health, social, environmental, digital and transport, and will test design methods in pilot projects.
Between 2012 and 2015, led by PDR at Cardiff Metropolitan University and funded by the European Commission, SEE has delivered 100 hands-on workshops engaging over 600 policy-makers and influenced 16 policies and 40 programmes related to design. Through new research, practical workshops for policy-makers, case studies, policy recommendations and the annual Design Policy Monitor, SEE has built a bank of evidence to support government to integrate design into policy, programmes and their mainstream practice. At the Design, Innovation and Policy Conference, we shared our findings on three themes: Design Support Programmes, Design in the Public Sector and Design Policy. Sean Hughes, Head of Healthcare Design at Philips provided examples of how design has become central to Philips’ business model. We explored the results from five design support programmes: SME Wallet (Flanders), Design for Competitiveness (Czech Republic), Design Bulldozer (Estonia), Design Leadership (UK) and the Service Design Programme (UK). We also presented success lessons from design projects in the public sector such as the Cabinet Office Policy Lab (UK), Design for Dementia (Ireland) and Design for Public Good (Denmark, Finland and the UK). Finally, we explored the challenges and opportunities for design policy through a roundtable discussion with government representatives from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France and the European Commission.
To find out more about future design policy trends in Europe download our Design Policy Monitor 2015 and follow us on Twitter: @PDR_DPOLICY
Anna Whicher PDR,
Cardiff Metropolitan University
BEDA board member