Mapping Design Innovation Ecosystems

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff Metropolitan University
Department Name: Product Design and Development Research

Abstract

Design is increasingly being recognised as a priority for innovation by government. In September 2013, the European Commission launched an 'Action Plan for Design-Driven Innovation'. In 2011, the UK Government stated that 'Design can be transformative for companies, through leading or supporting product and process innovation, for managing the innovation process itself, and the delivery of public services' and in 2013, the Welsh Government recognised design as a driver of innovation for the private and public sectors in the 'Innovation Strategy for Wales'. However, there is often a disconnect between policy formulation and implementation. As such, there is a real opportunity for academic research to influence how policy is translated into practice. Innovation ecosystems theory is an established line of academic inquiry but design has yet to be integrated in a meaningful way.

Many parts of the UK have initiatives to support design but they operate outside the mainstream innovation ecosystem and therefore are not reaching their full potential. To implement effective policies and programmes for design, policy-makers require insight into the design innovation ecosystem to ensure all components of the system are operating cohesively. Research is required to ascertain how design fits into innovation ecosystems theory and how it applies in practice so that policy-makers develop design innovation infrastructure in an informed way. By mapping the design infrastructure in Wales and Scotland, this research will validate design innovation ecosystems theory and provide concrete examples of how design can achieve innovation policy priorities.

Firstly, PDR will undertake a literature review on design and innovation ecosystems to inform the framework development and workshop delivery. Subsequently, PDR will host four exploratory workshops with different target audiences (policy-makers, designers, academics and industry representatives) in Cardiff, Bangor, Glasgow and Dundee to test the design innovation ecosystem framework. The workshops will employ design-led techniques to engage participants in identifying the main actors and initiatives in different components of the ecosystems such as users in the private and public sectors, design support, design promotion, design centres, the professional design sector, design education, design research and design funding. From the mapping exercise, the workshop participants will use hands-on and visual techniques to explore the level of systemic interaction and assess the systemic strengths and weaknesses. From the strengths and weaknesses, the workshop participants will co-develop a set of policy proposal for strengthening the ecosystems again using design-led techniques to engage delegates in constructive and inclusive dialogue.

By mapping and analysing the two design innovation ecosystems, the research will propose a set of concrete recommendations to the Welsh Government and Scottish Enterprise to improve existing innovation programmes and policy initiatives. The outcomes will be disseminated in policy engagement events in Cardiff and Glasgow as well as meetings with key stakeholders in Lancaster and London.

The outputs from the project will be:
- A literature review of design innovation ecosystems.
- A framework for design innovation ecosystems validated through testing in four workshops.
- A map of the Welsh and Scottish design innovation ecosystems, their strengths and weaknesses and policy proposals for strengthening the ecosystems.
- A 'Blueprint for Mapping Design Innovation Ecosystems' to enable other stakeholders to replicate the research (this report will include the aforementioned outputs).
- Two policy engagement events and two dissemination meetings.
- A website with the project outputs.
- A peer reviewed article in an innovation journal and a peer reviewed article in a design journal.
- A summary report including findings, lessons learnt and future plans.

Planned Impact

This research is intended to instigate policy and programme change in Wales and Scotland and to provide insight for other stakeholders to map and analyse their design innovation systems to strengthen the policy and programme provisions for design. Furthermore, this research represents a feasibility study to developing a more ambitious 'Roadmap for a National Design Strategy'.

The Welsh Government and Scottish Enterprise will benefit directly from this research and be involved in the exploratory workshops and policy engagement events to give them ownership and enable them to provide input during the research phase. Through the workshops, they will be involved in analysing the strengths and weaknesses of their design innovation ecosystem and provide input to the policy proposals. By involving a range of stakeholders including government officials, the policy recommendations will be fit for purpose, concrete and within the realistic scope for action. The research intends to provide practical proposals for integrating design into existing business support and innovation programmes in Wales and Scotland.

From experience through SEE, it has been identified that design is often excluded from mainstream innovation programmes such as innovation voucher schemes, tax credit and export promotion initiatives. Or if design is an eligible cost, it is not explicitly highlighted or encouraged within the programme. Design is an accessible means for small companies to innovate. By integrating design into mainstream innovation programmes, SMEs will be able to build capacity to use design within their businesses to enhance competitiveness. SMEs will benefit indirectly from this research through programme changes as a result of key Welsh Government and Scottish Enterprise officials participating in the research process and having a vested interest in carrying out the proposals. The exploratory workshops will use hands-on, design-led techniques to engage participants in fruitful discussion. From experience, these creative techniques are very productive in stimulating debate and synthesising diverse perspectives. As a direct result of the research, PDR would hope that design would be formally integrated into at least one programme in Wales and one programme in Scotland to assist companies. Programme change can take a number of months so it would be anticipated that the changes would take place by the end of 2014.

Other policy-makers and academics across the UK and Europe will also benefit indirectly from this research. Other design stakeholders across the UK looking to influence local, regional or national government will also be able to use Wales and Scotland as case studies for mapping design innovation ecosystems and influencing programme and policy formulation. Dissemination meetings will be arranged with key stakeholders such as Lancaster University, Dundee University, the Design Council and Associate Parliamentary Design and Innovation Group (see attached letters of support). It is anticipated that this research could form part of a more ambition project to develop a five-year 'Roadmap for a National Design Strategy' with Lancaster University. The UK has an opportunity to lead on the design policy agenda and this research forms part of efforts to embed design within mainstream innovation policy and theory. There is also growing interest across a number of European regions including among others Flanders, Border, Midland and Western Region of Ireland, Central Macedonia and Silesia to integrate design into innovation policies and programmes (see attached letters of support). This research will create a blueprint for stakeholders to map and analyse their design innovation ecosystems to provide input for evidence-based policy-making. PDR already benefits from involvement in a number of European networks listed in the Pathways to Impact section. The results will be disseminated through UK and European research and policy channels.

Publications

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Whicher A (2018) Design for circular economy: Developing an action plan for Scotland in Journal of Cleaner Production

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Whicher A (2016) Mapping Design for Innovation Policy in Wales and Scotland in The Design Journal

 
Description This research sought to ascertain how design fits into innovation ecosystems theory and how it applies in practice so that policy-makers can develop design-driven innovation infrastructure in an informed way. By mapping the design infrastructure in Wales and Scotland, this research has validated theory on Design Innovation Ecosystems by providing concrete examples of how design can achieve innovation policy priorities. By being directly involved through a co-design process, the framework we developed enabled policy-makers to take a more holistic view of the interaction within the innovation environment and subsequently to develop more targeted policies and support mechanisms. Not only was the Design Innovation Ecosystem framework a useful tool for conceptualising the environment in which design operates but policy-makers also found the methodology engaging. While co-design methods are familiar to researchers active in the field, methods that visualise complex systems and facilitate constructive dialogue between diverse stakeholders is not common among government officials. The feedback from policy-makers was that both the framework and the method were beneficial in constructing a shared understanding of user needs and policy constraints between stakeholders. This approach resulted in new ideas for and from policy-makers, demonstrating the usefulness of the Design Innovation framework and co-design method. The results suggest that while there may be significant synergies between regional Design Innovation Ecosystems in the UK, or indeed in other EU countries, there are also unique operating conditions and therefore our framework and method could be replicated to support evidence-based policy-making elsewhere.
Exploitation Route This research has benefited from having design aware policy-makers within the Welsh Government and Scottish Enterprise participating in the process. These government 'design champions' have been instrumental in steering the research, contributing to the workshops, and translating workshop outputs into implementable policies. Further research should examine the levels of prior design awareness required within government to facilitate this design approach to policy development (whether that be policy that examines design and innovation or any other aspect of policy development). It is perhaps obvious that the policy beneficiaries - those upon which the policy will impact - should also be well represented during stakeholder engagement activities related to policy development. As such, this exploratory research reflects a snapshot in time of the knowledge of a small group and therefore may not necessarily represent the entire design landscape in Wales and Scotland. Future research for policy proposals would benefit from a greater participation of SMEs and designers in the workshops; therefore, potentially more effective means of SME engagement should be explored, which could take the form of incentives for workshop attendance, presenting policy developments at industry events, or a broader set of surveys and industry visits to explore needs in more depth.
The framework and method could be implemented on a wider scale to influence policy not only in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills but also other ministries like the Department for Communities and Local Government, Department for Culture, Media and Sport and even the Department for Health. Design, as an approach to problem-solving, is relevant to all these policy domains. To influence policy changes, government requires not only the qualitative insight gained from a co-design method with policy beneficiaries but also the quantitative insight generated from empirical evidence of design investment by both the private and public sectors. From such a research, it could be identified whether an empirical approach to policy development is more effective or whether a co-design approach is more effective for policy development. It could be surmised that current quantitative approaches to policy development would be enhanced and become more user-focused if supplemented by a co-design approach to policy formulation. To begin to address these issues, we intend to conduct further research with industry partners, academic colleagues and government policy-makers around the world.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description The impacts of the project to date are based around the new ideas that have been generated by policy makers in Wales and Scotland, and the use of the techniques that we developed in the research in new projects. Participants in both the Scottish and Welsh workshops proposed additional training in the value of design for innovation specialists within the Welsh Government and Scottish Enterprise to further promote design as an approach to innovation for SMEs. Other recommendations that the Welsh Government will consider is making design a mandatory component of all Welsh Government innovation programmes to encourage the up-take of design by SMEs, appointing design representatives to Welsh Government industry committees, recruiting a design manager within the Welsh Government and setting up a Design and Development Grant to encourage start-ups to invest in design. The workshop participants also proposed that Scottish Enterprise could conduct a journey mapping exercise to understand how businesses access design support across the different programmes, ensure that design is an eligible cost within the Smart Exporter programme and promote design to the public sector through the Scottish Leaders Forum. Since these ideas were conceptualised Scottish Enterprise has implemented Design Vouchers (a recommendation from one of the workshops) in May 2014. The voucher is for £5,000-£7,000 for companies to spend on design services; we do not yet know how many firms have taken up the voucher. The impact in Wales is that WG has begun to undertaken a journey map of how users access business support programmes (another recommendation from one of the research workshops). The first new workshop exploring this journey map took place on 02.02.16. This research could open up new opportunities for influencing policy at regional and national level in the UK and across Europe. With design prioritised as a driver of innovation in the European Commission's policy Innovation Union, governments across Europe are looking to understand how design can achieve innovation policy priorities. This is particularly relevant in the context of the growing emphasis on smart specialisation strategies where the creative industries, and within it, design, are being highlighted as a powerhouse for European competitiveness. As a result, since the research was completed, we have been contracted to explore design policy creation and implementation issues with Zero Waste Scotland, the Irish Government and Essex County Council. These projects are detailed in the partners and collaboration section. Further, the outcomes of the research have been instrumental in the development of further funded projects, i.e.: a £1.7m Interreg Europe project being led by the CoI (Jan 17 - Dec 21) aiming to integrate design into 8 regional innovation funding schemes; and an H2020 project that Cardiff Met partnered on (Jan 16 - Dec 16), transferring good practices in business support programmes for the tourism sector to Central Macedonia, North East Greece.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Impact in Scotland
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
Impact As a result of the workshop recommendations, Scottish Enterprise implemented Design Voucher for £5000-£7000 that companies can apply for to purchase design services. We do not yet know how many companies benefitted from these vouchers.
 
Description Impact in Wales
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
 
Description Design for Innovation
Amount € 1,700,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Commission 
Department Interreg : European Territorial Co-operation
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2017 
End 12/2021
 
Description Developing an Action Plan for the Strategic Use of Design in the UK
Amount £578,000 (GBP)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2017 
End 05/2019
 
Description Design Action Plan 
Organisation Manchester Metropolitan University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is an AHRC project led by Manchester Metropolitan University with Andrew Walters and Anna Whicher from Cardiff Met as Co Investigators. THis builds upon the expertise Anna and I have built in Design Policy (and thus partly from the Mapping Design EcoSystems Project). The contribution we bring is in User Centred Methods of engaging stakeholders in teh policy creation process.
Collaborator Contribution Manchester Metropolitan University brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the ways of assessing both design policy and the use of design as a strategic tool.
Impact There arae no outputs yet, but two conference papers will be published in the near future.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Design for Policy Essex 
Organisation Essex County Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Workshops examining a design approach to service development
Collaborator Contribution Consultancy arrangement implementing design methods developed through PDR research
Impact None yet
Start Year 2016
 
Description Design in Ireland 
Organisation CM International
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Literature Review and development of survey among Irish firms and five impact case studies of companies successfully using design.
Collaborator Contribution CM International created ten impact case studies and analysed the survey results.
Impact Policy Framework for Design in Enterprise in Ireland
Start Year 2015
 
Description Design in Ireland 
Organisation Government of Ireland
Country Ireland 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Literature Review and development of survey among Irish firms and five impact case studies of companies successfully using design.
Collaborator Contribution CM International created ten impact case studies and analysed the survey results.
Impact Policy Framework for Design in Enterprise in Ireland
Start Year 2015
 
Description Policy Impact Design Council 
Organisation Design Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The development of case studies demonstrating Design's impact on policy development
Collaborator Contribution Consultancy agreement - Design Council commissioned PDR to develop the case studies.
Impact Case studies published on the Design for Europe website.
Start Year 2015
 
Description ProtoPolicy 
Organisation Lancaster University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution CI Anna Whicher participated in the AHRC project ProtoPolicy led by Emmanual Tsekleves at Imagination Lancaster. It was a three month project using design fiction to help politicians and community groups imagine the future implications of policy initiatives in creative ways. The project received around £15000 funding, of which £2000 came to PDR at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Anna Whicher contributed through engagement with external stakeholders, facilitating workshops and contributing to the final report.
Collaborator Contribution The other partners also contributed through engagement with external stakeholders, facilitating workshops and contributing to the final report. Also, Imagination Lancaster designed and produced artefacts associated with the Design Fictions that were jointly developed.
Impact Protopolicy Design Report; Westminster Presentation.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Tourism ID 
Organisation Government of Brazil
Department Coordination of Higher Education Personnel Training (CAPES)
Country Brazil 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Create a service design case study for material to be used in an innovation workshop with government agencies (in Wales). Contribute to the development of a handbook on design support programmes.
Collaborator Contribution Leading an H2020 project into design support in Greece
Impact None yet
Start Year 2015
 
Description Zero Waste Scotland 
Organisation Design Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Workshops mapping the design eco system and generating new policy ideas
Collaborator Contribution Contributions to the above workshops and ideation sessions
Impact Circular Economy became a criteria in the Scottish Enterprise Design Vouchers.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Zero Waste Scotland 
Organisation Zero Waste Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Workshops mapping the design eco system and generating new policy ideas
Collaborator Contribution Contributions to the above workshops and ideation sessions
Impact Circular Economy became a criteria in the Scottish Enterprise Design Vouchers.
Start Year 2015