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Background

Lithuania trails below the EU average in terms of companies using design. According to the European Commission’s Innobarometer 2016, 63% of Lithuanian companies do not use design at all, compared to an EU average of 56% who do not use design. At the top of the ladder, only 5% of Lithuanian firms use design strategically in contrast to 12% of the EU’s 28 Member States. 

“The lack of design policy has been an obstacle to the consistent and purposeful development of the design sector and its ability to meet the needs of wider industry. However, things are set to change.”
Audronė Drungilaitė, Executive Director of the Lithuanian Design Forum and Design for Europe Ambassador

How Design for Europe helped

In November 2015 Design for Europe and the Lithuanian Design Forum  brought together key representatives from design, education, the Mayor’s Office, Municipality of Vilnius and the Ministries of Culture and Economy to openly discuss the critical challenges and success factors for embedding design at a strategic level across the business and public sectors.

Design can improve the way people live their lives. Design influences how we experience the City of Vilnius. All public services have to be user-centred, whether it's education, transport or public spaces. All angles have to be user-centred to create a successful whole.

Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius

 “Design can improve the way people live their lives. Design influences how we experience the City of Vilnius. All public services have to be user-centred, whether it's education, transport or public spaces. All angles have to be user-centred to create a successful whole.”
Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius
 
After the high level discussions, a half day workshop for 35 delegates took place presenting aspects of design support, measurement and impact, service design and design for cities and society.
 
“It is a rare opportunity to have the ear of a city and to be invited to present a case for design as a strategy for growth and prosperity. This is why it is incredibly humbling to think that Design for Europe has had the opportunity in Lithuania and the Baltics to demonstrate first-hand how design can have a long term impact on the competitiveness of a city and help it to connect with its citizens.”
Sonja Dahl, Senior Programme Manager, Nesta
 
Consequently, on 3 May 2016, Design for Europe facilitated a Design Policy Workshop for 18 stakeholders to jointly develop a set of policy proposals to enhance the supply of and demand for design in Lithuania.
 
“In the case of Lithuania the challenge is to balance the ambitions of the design stakeholders with the reality of national capacity. There is a real appetite to enhance the use of design and an opportunity to move from a relatively low level of design use to a higher national position on the design ladder.”
Christina Melander, Programme Director, Danish Design Centre

In the Design Policy Workshop, the participants conducted three exercises using visual tools:
 

  • Mapping the Design Ecosystem in Lithuania to identify the a
  • Exploring the strengths and weaknesses of the Design Ecosystem
  • Co-creating a set of policy proposals and refining them into ten high impact actions. 

The purpose of the Design Policy worshop was to identify the existing design support infrastructure and mechanisms in Lithuania so that stakeholders could identify where policy actions might be most effective. The group generated around 70 policy ideas that were refined into a set of ten higher impact actions, including mapping existing innovation programmes to integrate design, simplifying the application procedure for the DESIGN LT funding for businesses, and training civil servants, incubators and innovation advisors in design thinking. 

In Lithuania, small companies can be very conservative when it comes to investing in design. The figures and information provided through Design for Europe is useful for us to overcome these barriers in perception.

Lukas Geryba, Business Analyst, Confederation of Industrialists

“We are already using many of the best practices shared through the Design for Europe network to advance the use of design in Lithuania.”
Audronė Drungilaitė, Executive Director, Lithuanian Design Forum, Design for Europe Ambassador
 
“In Lithuania, small companies can be very conservative when it comes to investing in design. The figures and information provided through Design for Europe is useful for us to overcome these barriers in perception. The Design for Europe events have been really important for our country and our markets.”
Lukas Geryba, Business Analyst, Confederation of Industrialists
 

Outcomes

  • €5.79 M investment in product and service design solutions
  • 3 years to develop solutions for market
  • €10 K subsidy for small companies implementing design

The Design Policy Workshop proved a catalyst for design champions in Lithuania to agree on some common actions. Using the Lithuanian Design Policy Workshop Report, a group of stakeholders presented their ambitions to the Ministry of Economy in early June 2016. As such, the Ministry have committed to:

  • Engage with the National Statistics Department to collect more data on the design sector.
  • Select representatives to form a “Design Bridge” steering committee to advise on design actions.
  • Collaborate with the Lithuanian Design Forum to organise a series of design and business events.
  • Explore the opportunities for training civil servants in design methods.
  • Extend the DESIGN LT programme to include private sector innovation but also to benefit society such as solving health issues. 

    Design is now included in our business support programmes. We know that design plays a significant role in developing appealing products and services.

    Ričardas Valančiauskas, Head of Innovation Department, Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology

“Design is now included in our business support programmes. We know that design plays a significant role in developing appealing products and services. We will launch the DESIGN LT programme to enable small companies to access up to €10,000 use design for the first time.” 
Ričardas Valančiauskas, Head of Innovation Department, Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology
 
In two open calls, micro, small and medium-sized companies will be able to apply for up to €10,000 to implement product and service design solutions. The solutions must be brought to market within three years of the investment and should focus on tackling social issues like health, ageing, disability and disadvantaged groups. A total of €5.79m has been allocated by the Ministry of Economy. 
 
Through on-going engagement with Design for Europe, stakeholders in Lithuania, particularly the Lithuanian Design Forum, will be able to take these policy actions from ideas to implementation.
 
“The economies of the EU and Lithuania need to constantly innovate to grow sustainably and design has a significant role in achieving this. A comprehensive design policy for Lithuania with an effective monitoring system could equip businesses, public sector organisations, academic communities and policy-makers with the information and resources they need to propagate the importance of design for innovation.”
Dr Jonas Jakaitis, Head of the Department of Design at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Ambassador at Design for Europe, Lithuania
 
 

Photos from Design Driven Lithuania