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Building Capacity for Design enabled Innovation in Urban Environments

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - DESIGNSCAPES (Building Capacity for Design enabled Innovation in Urban Environments)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-11-30

The overarching aim of the DESIGNSCAPES project is to exploit the generative potential of urban environments in the highest possible number of European Cities to encourage the uptake and further enhancement and upscaling of Design enabled Innovations (DeI) by existing enterprises, start-up companies, public authorities and agencies, and other urban stakeholders.
The specific challenge addressed by the H2020 TOPIC CO-CREATION-02-2016 User-driven innovation: value creation through design-enabled innovation is “that many public sector organisations and businesses, especially SMEs, miss out on the potential to utilise design as a source for improving efficiency and stimulating growth”.
From this we take the point that a holistic approach is required, putting together all the major stakeholders interested and/or involved in generating innovations through a wider and more intensive adoption of design thinking, product and service design, and other design related methods, processes, technologies and tools.
Additionally, through adopting an “urban perspective”, Design enabled Innovation gets a spatial dimension and becomes place-based, informing the discussion on the missing enabling conditions and the existing promoting factors (negative and positive urban externalities), and emphasizing the value of differences in histories, policies, social and demographic developments across Europe.
A budget of € 1.5 million will be distributed to European Individuals, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Not-for-profit associations and Public sector organizations via an Open Call for proposals, which was launched in July 2018 and is available on the project’s official website as well as on the EC Participant’s Portal.
The Call has three distinct deadlines: 30 November 2018 for Feasibility Studies of Design Enabled Innovation in Urban Environments, 31 July 2019 for new Prototypes and 27 March 2020 for Scalability Proofs.
Applicants have to reside in one of the EU or Associated Countries which were eligible to the H2020 CO-CREATION-02-2016 call. Special attention is paid to promoting women participation, particularly from the Southern and Eastern European Countries.
At the end of the second project year, all WPs were started.
City Snap Shot (WP1) elaborated the concept of Design enabled Innovation in Cities. It evolved into a model and guideline for the application and validation of the extended definition of DeI “in Urban Environments”. This led to the delivery of a collection of 282 case studies covering 10 countries and 14 cities, forming the embryo of a database of current and past DeI initiatives and help develop evidence-based insights on what works and what not.
DESIGNSCAPES Framework (WP2) delivered an overarching and encompassing evaluation approach. A first round of evaluation has delivered very encouraging results in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and quality.
Technical & Financial Support Instrument (WP3) is in charge of running and managing the Open Call for Pilots, with its assigned budget of 1.5 MEuro and aiming to identify and support 100+ projects providing substantial evidence in support of the view that the urban/local and the cross-city/regional/multiregional dimensions can promote, procure and stimulate DeI, highlighting the main barriers, drivers, enablers and conditions for DeI to materialize in urban environments. The 1st round of the Call has 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 has received 163 applications and awarded 41 beneficiaries, now working at prototyping design enabled innovations in products, services, policies and urban infrastructures.
Policies to Enhance DeI at national and EU level (WP4) has been in charge of drafting a Green Paper – to become a White Paper– on DeI in Urban Environments, officially launched on the occasion of the project’s mid-term conference on May 2019. The Green Paper remained open to consultation until 30 Nov. 2019 and will be made official in the course of a Policy Forum on 10-11 Mar. 2020 in Valencia, the World Design Capital 2022, first City to be awarded thanks to a concept borrowed from DESIGNSCAPES.
Capacities to Enhance Design enabled Innovation (WP5) developed a conceptual framework to guide the content generation of the Capacity Building program, to collect a first inventory of TIMs for Urban DEI and to define further the format of related Training Modules. The winners of the 2nd round of the Call for Pilots are the first beneficiaries of this program, to be further extended to European public & private sector stakeholders.
Communication & Dissemination (WP6) started successfully at project’s kick-off to create a stable mechanism ensuring a continuous and consistent stream of communication, awareness raising and dissemination actions, targeting the various stakeholder communities and individual design and innovation professionals, academics and policy makers. The full set of communication and dissemination tools, materials and contents was enhanced between Jun. and Aug. 2018 to better advertise the Open Call for Pilots.
The main features of the DESIGNSCAPES project are the following:
- It builds upon the generative potential of innovation in cities. We see the City as a hotbed for creativity and innovative culture and a place where different actor groups (companies, public authorities, NGOs, citizens, start-uppers, entrepreneurs etc.) receive continuous stimuli to engage in product or service innovations that fulfil specific (market, organisational or community) needs;
- It leverages Design Thinking and Design Driven Innovation concepts as blueprints for the identification and replication of successful cases – focusing on the one hand on integration of citizens/customers and other stakeholders in the innovation processes, and on the other hand on generation of “killer” product or service concepts that are so innovative to be disruptive to both technology and market;
- It has a direct and purposeful focus on the scalability potential of Design enabled Innovation, through the search for and definition of emerging innovation ecosystems that can support replication of the most successful initiatives through the provision of positive externalities and by broadening the view to the role of urban players, networks, communities and stakeholders in the creation of “fertilizing” environments;
- It proposes an original evaluation, replication and impacts assessment framework for newly emerging and (to be) financially supported initiatives, which doesn’t just focus on assessing outcomes, at the end of a project or programme, but is embedded throughout the whole innovation life cycle – from design stage to post-project exploitation, sustainability and scaling (up and out) stages;
- It makes use of a “supportive governance approach” that is aimed at trust building, learning by doing and capacity building of innovation actors. Through the definition of policies to catalyse innovation ecosystems, the provision of “training for trainers” facilities and the establishment of a technical and financial instrument akin to the US and NL SBIR programme, the project will support and sustain the implementation and scaling up of Design enabled Innovations in urban environments during as well as beyond the granted period.
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