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Design as a driver of user-centred innovation

Author: European Commission – Enterprise and Industry
Published Date: 5 September 2011

Design is an important part of the innovation process. Research shows that design-driven companies are more innovative than others. It is increasingly considered a strategic tool for user-driven or user-centred innovation. As such, it is a holistic and multidisciplinary problem-solving approach that takes user needs, aspirations and abilities as its starting point and focus.


A particular importance of design as a key discipline and activity to bring ideas to the market has been recognisedin the Innovation Union Europe's 2020 flagship initiative, where the European Commission (EC) recognizesthe importance to exploit the full potential of design for innovation and to reinforce the link between design, innovation and competitiveness.


Design as an innovation activity is complementary to R&D in that it transforms research into commercially viable products and services, and brings innovation closer to user needs. Design has the potential to be more widely used, particularly in SMEs, low-tech companies and the service sector, and where design is the outcome of an R&D activity that has resulted in intellectual property rights, state aid could also be granted to SMEs to finance the industrial property rights costs.


However, data published in a EC working document on Design as a driver of user-centred innovation, show that European SMEs do not make a great use of the industrial design registration, although that should be much more widely exploited in SMEs, since it is conceived as a means for incremental and non-technological innovation that helps companies respond better to customer needs. Thereafter, as it does not necessarily require scientific knowledge or sophisticated technological engineering, it is particularly relevant for SMEs.


To read the EC working document click here


Source: European Commission – Enterprise and Industry http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/innovation