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Background 

Under the auspices of Design for Europe a number of high profile events have taken place in Spain. Discussions with the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness were kick started in early 2015 at the event Design as a Lever of Innovation. The panel discussion was attended by over twenty representatives of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness as well as a similar number of officials from innovation agencies, business networks, associations of designers and the European Commission.   
 

This meeting was vital for raising awareness of the needs of the design sector and how the design sector can meet the needs of industry.

Dr Lucas J. Ruiz Díaz, Head of Unit, International Projects, Surgenia – Technological Centre of Design, Spain

“This meeting was vital for raising awareness of the needs of the design sector and how the design sector can meet the needs of industry. This was the first time policy-makers, innovation agencies and designers had been at the same table to discuss the role of design as a tool for innovation. Until then we had no contact within the Ministry to properly address the issues.”
Dr Lucas J. Ruiz Díaz, Head of Unit, International Projects, Surgenia – Technological Centre of Design
 
“The ultimate goal of the panel discussion was to convey the value of design as a driver of business innovation and emphasize that both, design and innovation, incorporated together in any activity, form a driving element of competitiveness and sustainable growth.”
Adela Martín, General Deputy Director of Competitiveness and Enterprise Development, Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness
 
The event brought together regional, national and international experts in design practice, research and management to share success stories and highlight the importance of including design in public policy. It took place as part of a meeting of the Public Policy Network R&D and Innovation (RED I+D+I) formed of representatives from central government, autonomous regions, innovation agencies and the European Commission. The RED I+D+I network is one of most important mechanisms of multi-level coordination of public managing authorities of EU Structural Funds for R&D and innovation in Spain. This was the first time that design had been integrated into the mainstream debate on innovation and policy in Spain. 

How Design for Europe helped

To support design to rise up the national agenda, Design for Europe has supported many events across Spain targeted at influential bodies. 
 
An event in October 2015 focused on the importance of intellectual property protection for design for ANDEMA (Association for Brand Protection) and its members. This association is composed of the most important brands in Spain, such as, Inditex, Lladró  and Freixenet, among them. Most of these companies are characterized by their innovativeness and their interest in design, which enabled the Spanish Chamber of Commerce to develop a series of case studies to showcase nationally and internationally.  
 
Subsequently, the Chamber of Commerce of Spain, in collaboration with Design for Europe, hosted more than 100 companies at the SMEs and Chambers Linked by Innovation conference in December 2015. There were speakers from CDTI, Design for Europe and Hispasat, the Spanish satellite communications operators that use design to continuously innovation their satellites.

We were surprise and really encouraged by the appetite of the companies and chambers to learn more about the practical application of design.

Virginia Molinero Ruiz, Consultant for Innovation European Programmes, Chamber of Commerce of Spain

 
“The event was a complete success. We were surprise and really encouraged by the appetite of the companies and chambers to learn more about the practical application of design at the different stages of the innovation process. Thanks to this event, companies were aware of the importance of design within their organisations.”
Virginia Molinero Ruiz, Consultant for Innovation European Programmes, Chamber of Commerce of Spain
 
As part of the third meeting of Spanish Design Associations (3ENAD), held in Málaga in June 2015, Surgenia and the Network of Spanish Design Associations (READ) organised the workshop Design and Public Policies. This event brought together about 30 representatives from almost every professional association of Spanish designers with entrepreneurs, policy-makers and educators to meet, discuss and identify potential ways of collaborating to promote design in policy initiatives in Spain. The representatives of Design for Europe ran a hands-on workshop to propose concrete actions to take in the forthcoming months to create a suitable environment in which design-driven innovation could catalyse sustainable economic growth.
 

Outcomes

  • €6,400 subsidy for innovation programmes for SMEs
  • 3 Design for Europe events in Spain over past three years
  • 100 + Attendees at Design for Europe events

The Spanish Chamber of Commerce has signed an agreement with CDTI, the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology to join forces to support an innovation programme for SMEs. Companies can apply for €6,400 to perform an innovation diagnostic and develop an innovation strategy. 

For 2016 to 2020, the total amount of EU structural funds for innovation in Spain will be €24 million to promote innovation.

Mar Díaz Serrano, Consultant for Innovation European Programmes, Chamber of Commerce of Spain

 
“For 2016 to 2020, the total amount of EU structural funds for innovation in Spain will be €24 million to promote innovation. We estimate allocating about 10% for design support. This will be both for mentoring and direct funding for companies. This will be combined with a communication strategy to create a multiplier effect to generate appetite for design among firms in Spain. We are looking forward to further collaboration with Design for Europe to inform how the design programme develops.”
Mar Díaz Serrano, Consultant for Innovation European Programmes, Chamber of Commerce of Spain
 
In addition, the Spanish Chamber of Commerce has signed an agreement with the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office to raise awareness of the importance of protecting intellectual property. The emphasis will be placed on the importance seeing design as a competitive element. The companies aligned to both the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office and CDTI will receive information about design as well as success stories and subsequently will be redirected to participate in the new design support programmes.

However, there is still further to go on the journey to holistically integrating design into the R&D and innovation support structure in Spain.

Design and innovation together are crucial for improving competitiveness. But design is also proven to be an activity capable of creating jobs and wealth on its own.

Adela Martín, General Deputy Director of Competitiveness and Enterprise Development of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness

 
“Our top three desired mechanisms to better support design would be to include design in national funding for R&D, to launch an awareness raising campaigns across Spain targeted at SMEs and policy-makers and the more ambitious idea is to develop a national design policy.”
Dr Lucas J. Ruiz Díaz, Head of Unit, International Projects, Surgenia – Technological Centre of Design
 
“Design really plays a very important role as a driver of R&D&I. Design and innovation together are crucial for improving competitiveness. But design is also proven to be an activity capable of creating jobs and wealth on its own. Consequently, Spain has to stress both aspects: design as independent activity and design as a driver of innovation. For this, both design professionals and public authorities must work together in areas related to R&D&I and recognise the implementation of design as a profitable investment and not as a non-essential expenditure. In the public sector we should, on the one hand develop policies to support design activity and on the other hand, to implement policies and public services using design methods centred on the user.”
Adela Martín, General Deputy Director of Competitiveness and Enterprise Development, Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness
 
 

Design for Europe Spain event photos

 

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