Friday, June 27, 2014

€Design - Measuring Design Value - Final Conference

Yesterday in Brussels, ‘€Design – Measuring Design Value’, one of seven projects funded under the European Design Innovation Initiative, held its final conference to present the results of two and a half years’ work to define the conceptual framework of design as an economic factor of production.

Presentations were given by Bonifacio Garcia-Porras, Head of Unit, DG Enterprise and Industry at the European Commission; Isabel Roig, Director of Barcelona Design Centre and €Design project co-ordinator; Robin Edman, Managing Director of SVID, Sweden; Dr. James Moultrie, Cambridge University; Prof. Dr. Eusebi Nomen and Professor Severin Filek, Managing Director of Design Austria.

The €Design hypothesis is that design, understood as an integrator of functional, emotional and social utilities, (the capacity to satisfy users’/customers’ needs and wants), at the very outset of systemic innovation may be a key factor enabling important non-linear efficiencies in the economic and social value creation of firms and GDP growth of nations.

The project has produced three key outputs - two at the macro-economic level and one at the micro-economic level:

1/ the articulation in a set of guidelines of the new paradigm of design as an integrator of functional, emotional and social utilities

2/ a set of three, tested, statistically robust questions for integration into the existing data-gathering mechanisms of the European Union that will enable the analysis and measurement of design’s economic impact

3/ a scoreboard / mapping tool for supporting organisations and SMEs to position their design capability within a measurable economic framework.

The Project consortium highlighted the currently unsatisfactory situation where there is no alignment of design as perceived within the existing Frascati and Oslo Manuals. The project partners called urgently for a shift from a technology push model of innovation in a linear system, (where design is a styling add-on providing appearance to performance), to a more sophisticated model of design perceived as an integrator within a non-linear, systemic view of innovation.

This approach demands new data as the current systems provide insufficient data on the linkages and flows that exist within systemic innovation. The hope is that the three questions may be integrated into the INNOBAROMETER with further opportunities available as the Frascati Manual is currently under review and the Community Innovation Survey (CIS) is to be reviewed in 2016/2017.

The project results were well received both by the Commission Officials present, as well as by the expert audience comprising statisticians, intermediary organisations and representatives from the other EDII projects along with other design promotion organisations. Through the panel discussion (which I had the opportunity to chair), a number of key questions provoked debate on next steps. This included the Commission stating that it is open to further ideas and communication from conference participants on taking the results of the project to a next step and that it is working to integrate the three questions into the EU measurement system.

During the discussion, I took the opportunity to ask the Commission representatives whether or not they envisaged a summative conference of all seven EDII projects once they have all completed in mid-2015. Once again, the Commission felt that this made sense and referred to the potential offered under the European Design Innovation Platform (Design for Europe) for such a conference. The Design Council gave notice of a conference it is planning under the aegis of the EDIP for next year at a date to be confirmed.

The Project guidelines, conference presentations and the scoreboard tool will be available on line at from Monday 30th June 2014.

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