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Building Capacity for Design enabled Innovation in Urban Environments

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - DESIGNSCAPES (Building Capacity for Design enabled Innovation in Urban Environments)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2021-09-30

The overarching aim of DESIGNSCAPES was to demonstrate that by structurally embedding Design enabled Innovation (DeI) in urban contexts one can effectively encourage and facilitate its uptake, enhancement and upscaling. To that end, a cascade funding budget of € 1.43 million was distributed to 99 innovators from all over Europe - natural persons, Micro and SMEs, not-for-profit associations and public sector organizations - via an Open Call for pilot proposals, which was launched in July 2018 and had three distinct deadlines: November 2018 for Feasibility Studies of DeI implementation in urban environments, July 2019 for the development of new DeI prototypes (of products, services, methodologies, policies etc.) in Cities and March 2020 for Scalability Proofs - i.e. evidences of successful Cross-City (not necessarily Cross-Country) transfer of successful DeI prototypes developed elsewhere. The complete collection of funded initiatives is now available online on the project’s official website as a searchable database (https://designscapes.eu/funded-initiatives/). Almost 1 in 5 of the beneficiaries presented their achievements publicly during the DESIGNSCAPES final conference held online in July-September 2021. Their presentations are available online on https://www.facebook.com/designscapesproject.
WP1 elaborated the concept of DeI in Cities, also available as an OA Book (https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-00123-0). The concept evolved into a model and a guideline for the application and validation of the extended definition of DeI “in Urban Environments”. This led to the delivery of a collection of 302 case studies covering 10 countries and 14 cities, helping develop evidence-based insights on what works and what does not. An extract of 70 detailed case studies is available at https://designscapes.eu/city-snapshot-page/
WP2 designed an overarching and encompassing evaluation approach, used consistently across to assess the Open Call's outcomes and impacts. Three rounds of evaluation were carried out - one per each group of awarded initiatives - delivering very encouraging results in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and quality. One of the unexpected results of the evaluation was the documented capacity of most Call winners to mobilize additional resources, both in kind and in cash, which have compensated for the low unitary amounts attributed by the cascade funding mechanism (5,000 Euros to the 48 feasibility studies and up to 25,000 Euros to the 41 prototypes and 10 scalability proofs). This result was partly due to a reputation enhancing effect of the EU award itself, particularly at local level, but also to a stringent requirement from the Call to create and mobilize urban stakeholder networks in support to DeI, which has facilitated the identification of new funding or support sources by the supported beneficiaries.
WP3 was in charge of running and managing the Open Call for Pilots, with its assigned budget of 1.5 MEuro that was spent almost entirely (1.43 MEuro). The 1st round of the Cal received 252 applications and awarded 50 beneficiaries, 48 of whom were paid €5.000 each for the delivery of a DeI Feasibility Plan. The 2nd round of the Call received 163 applications and awarded 41 beneficiaries, each prototyping a DeI enabled product, service, policy or urban infrastructure. The 3rd round of the Call received 60 applications and awarded 10 proposals for Scalability Proofing, each involving at least two European cities in a successful transfer of solutions (scaling out) mechanism.
WP4 was in charge of drafting a Green Paper – then become a White Paper, one of the final deliverables of DESIGNSCAPES – on DeI in Urban Environments. The Green and White Papers have offered concrete, evidence based reflections to policy makers at EU, national and regional level on how to enhance and streamline policies and programmes in support to DeI. The Green Paper was officially launched on the occasion of the project’s mid-term conference at the Committee of the Regions in May 2019, remained open to consultation for six months and was made official in March 2020 in the course of the 1st DESIGNSCAPES Policy Forum held in Valencia, the World Design Capital 2022, awarded of this recognition thanks to a concept directly borrowed from DESIGNSCAPES. The White Paper was presented officially on the occasion of the project's final "un"conference - a collection of online sessions across the last three project months - in a dedicated session held in September 2021. Additional evidence for policy making was offered by four pilot implementations realised at regional and local levels in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Portugal, each under the care of a specific project partner. Finally, the DESIGNSCAPES project was shortlisted as an initiative aligned with the vision and principles of the New European Bauhaus Award, after participating in the call that expired in May 2021.
WP5 developed a DeI Capacity Building program, offered to the winners of the 2nd and 3rd round of the Call. Two versions of a rich inventory of TIMs (Tools, Instruments and Methods) for Urban DeI were gathered, validated and published online, based on which the format of related Training Modules was defined and implemented. The framework and format have been refined and finalised and are now freely available to European public & private sector stakeholders interested in developing their capacities.
WP6 provided a continuous and consistent stream of communication, awareness raising and dissemination actions, targeting individual design and innovation professionals, entrepreneurs, academics and policy makers. While the Covid19 crisis dramatically changed the conditions for implementing this project function, however it also paved the way to innovating some processes originally designed and defined in a traditional manner. The full set of communication and dissemination tools, materials and contents was enhanced in 2018 to better advertise the Open Call for Pilots and a final edition of the project website was released on the occasion of the final conference in the summer 2021.
WP7 did not only ensure the continuity of the project across 4.5 years - including the 1st and 2nd waves of the Covid-19 pandemic - but also paved the way for the post-grant continuity of the DESIGNSCAPES partnership, involved cities and innovators, as well as the social media groups and website, which are now being put at the service of the NEB initiative and community.
The specific challenge addressed in alignment with the H2020 CO-CREATION-02-2016 Topic was “that many public sector organizations and businesses, especially SMEs, miss out on the potential to utilize design as a source for improving efficiency and stimulating growth”. In retrospect, DESIGNSCAPES has successfully undertaken a combination of pilot, research, funding, capacity building, evaluation and lesson drawing actions, the results of which are now at free disposal of the EU Institutions, Member States, Regions and Cities aiming to adopt systemic approaches for generating innovations through a wider and more intensive adoption of design thinking approaches, exploiting collective intelligence for product, service and even policy co-design, redesign and implementation, supported by a number of tools, instruments and methods and relying on the replication and reuse potential of the Open Call.
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