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Design as driver of innovation and competitiveness

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The power of design management

The emerging cross-disciplinary field of design management holds great potential for driving innovation and competitiveness in Europe. Professional, academic and student participants are joining forces to define and expand the field, developing valuable theories and tools for all cross-disciplinary efforts.

Industrial Technologies

The disciplines of design and management are based on different traditions. There are significant gains to be had in understanding and managing design as a driver for innovation. A new cross-disciplinary field of design management has been developed to provide the proper tools to unleash this potential. The EU-funded DESMA (Design as driver of innovation and competitiveness) project focused on defining and developing this field. The project has created the leading platform for discussion, research and development within design management, gathering participants from both disciplines and across all sectors. The overall aim of DESMA was to expand the network of design management researchers and raise the quality of their research, eventually translating it into practice. The initial phase of the project focused on defining the discipline and creating a unified vision, clearing a pathway for research and attracting participants. Through this process, and by looking at the epistemological and practical implications of combining design and management, important developments were realised for all interdisciplinary efforts. Furthermore, DESMA established a European research school for doctoral students in design management. It recruited 13 early-stage researchers and supported them in advancing their careers. The researchers participated in six training courses and four conferences, which led to viable research proposals on critical issues within the field. These proposals have been made available on the project website. There is also a video DESMA experiences which features ESRs, senior researchers, company partners and advisory board members talking about their experiences gained from being part of DESMA. Once the design management vision was clearly established, DESMA worked to expand the network and attract a wide group of designers, managers, academics and practitioners. The developments of interdisciplinary discussions were disseminated principally through the project website, drawing more participants and furthering the design management cause. In parallel, the project partners benefited from a new understanding on how design contributes to innovation internally. By effectively navigating the challenges of cross-disciplinary efforts, management can be combined with design to create a powerful catalyst for innovation and competitiveness in Europe.


Design management, innovation, competitiveness, DESMA

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