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Background

The significant media attention generated from the first design biennale, Design City, in 2010, provided an opportunity to create a platform to build critical mass for design in Luxembourg. Consequently, Luxinnovation and the Museum of Modern Art (MUDAM) established the Design Action Group, with the support of the Ministries of Economy and Culture, to lay the groundwork for a national design policy. The Design Action Group, composed of around 15 key stakeholders, identified 6 priority areas of work:

  • Integrating design into the business sector
  • Supporting the design sector
  • Promoting and raising awareness of design culture
  • Integrating design into the education system
  • Basic and applied research in design
  • Legal implications.

The mission of the Luxembourg’s Design Action Group has been warmly welcomed and supported by the stakeholders and the government. It helped raising the understanding and awareness of the added value of Design. However continuing the activities is the biggest challenge.

Jan Glas, Design Management and Strategy, Design for Europe Expert

Examples of the actions include developing a directory of designers, collecting statistics on design in Luxembourg such as the use of design by SMEs, and intellectual property protection. However, due to a shift in priorities by the newly elected government the advocacy efforts of the Design Action Group stalled.
 
“The mission of the Luxembourg’s Design Action Group has been warmly welcomed and supported by the stakeholders and the government. It helped raising the understanding and awareness of the added value of Design. However continuing the activities is the biggest challenge."
Jan Glas, Design Management and Strategy, Design for Europe Expert

How Design for Europe helped

Through a series of high profile events, Design for Europe was able to generate a convincing picture of the economic impact of design on business and the public sector in Luxembourg to inspire government action. The What About Luxembourg? event in October 2015 set the wheel in motion or design in Luxembourg to gather momentum. Significantly, Marco Walentiny from the Ministry of the Economy publicly committed to integrating design into future policies, in particular to providing co-financing for design-related innovative programmes.

“Today’s presentations, explanations and debates show that design can be a catalyst for the innovation process creating added value for companies.  Yet many of our companies still consider design to be a cost that it is necessary to minimize, and not as a source of value. That is why, it is important to the Luxembourg Ministry of Economy to change this perception. We are currently working on initiatives to sensitize and incite a change of mind and behaviour in companies.”
Marco Walentiny, First Advisor to the Minister, Ministry of Economy, Luxembourg

Design is clearly a tool for innovation and a catalyst for competitive growth. Companies that apply design in a strategic manner strengthen their competitive advantage and increase their chances of success.

Francine Closener, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy, Luxembourg

The Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy also declared that:
 
“Design is clearly a tool for innovation and a catalyst for competitive growth. Companies that apply design in a strategic manner strengthen their competitive advantage and increase their chances of success. Luxembourg might not yet be world famous for its designers and creative industries, but the field is steadily growing and increasingly initiatives are emerging that will allow us to catch up with other countries.  Using a human-centred, design-based approach is often an excellent way to build bridges between public organisations and the users. Public sector design projects can increase client satisfaction and also save tax payers’ money through a more effective service delivery.”
Francine Closener, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy, Luxembourg
 
In March 2016, a group of Design for Europe partners and ambassadors gathered in Luxembourg to take part in a peer-to-peer event on design policy. This was an opportunity for stakeholders from Estonia, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, the UK and of course, Luxembourg, to learn from each other. By providing a forum for debate and sources of inspiration, the event has accelerated progress towards a Design Action Plan for Luxembourg.
 
 

Outcomes

  • 38 SMEs noted improved performance following design-coaching
  • 90+ attendees to design events
  • 4 Design for Europe events over past three years

“The impact of Design for Europe in Luxembourg has been twofold. Firstly, we have integrated design into our business support programme Fit4Innovation so design now forms part of the SME diagnostic with consultants. Secondly, design will feature within the government’s new Creative Industry Cluster, which should be integrated into the Luxembourg Cluster Initiative at Luxinnovation.”
Fabiola Bardelli, Advisor SME Performance, Luxinnovation, Luxembourg
 
As the National Agency for Innovation and Research, Luxinnovation is responsible for implementing a range of business support programmes strictly within the mission prescribed by the Ministry of Economy.
 
“The initiative Fit4Innovation, managed by Luxinnovation, will in the first stage, include specialists in design to coach companies. In a second stage, the new Innovation Aid for SMEs can be used by the companies to benefit from financial incentives and put concrete projects into practice based on the concept of using design to drive innovation."
Marco Walentiny, First Advisor to the Minister, Ministry of Economy, Luxembourg
 
In the Fit4Innovation programme SMEs benefit from coaching and a diagnostic with an innovation consultant who develops a corresponding action plan with the SME. Luxinnovation has now integrated design management as a component within Fit4Innovation. Consequently, 38 SMEs improved their performance and competitiveness and benefited from support and coaching from qualified experts including in the domain of design thinking.
 
The Secretary of State and Ministry of Economy have also committed to establishing a Creative Industries Cluster in which design will be represented. The Cluster will also partner up with Chambers of Commerce and the Ministry of Culture.
 
"Luxembourg’s Design Action Group needs a structure that maintains its actions and hopefully the future Creative Industries Cluster Luxembourg will have this among their tasks.
Jan Glas, Design Management and Strategy, Design for Europe Expert
 
In terms of design, the Creative Industries Cluster will initially focus on creating an online directory of designers, matchmaking designers with SMEs to access financial support and collecting statistics on design.  
 
“As an activity of the Creative Industries Clusters, the National Statistics Agency has agreed to collect data on the creative industries and the gross value added. Crucially, it would be useful to assign a monetary value to economic contribution of design. The data will be used to drive evidence-based policy-making in Luxembourg and ensure that design remains on the agenda despite political changes.”
Anna Loporcaro, Head of Cultural Program, Museum of Modern Art (MUDAM), Design for Europe Ambassador

This Cluster contributes to our economic promotion strategy, which is based on synergies. If we consider design for instance, it is not merely about aesthetics, it plays a central role in the circular economy and technology development.

Francine Closener, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy, Luxembourg

 “This Cluster contributes to our economic promotion strategy, which is based on synergies. If we consider design for instance, it is not merely about aesthetics, it plays a central role in the circular economy and technology development.”
Francine Closener, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy, Luxembourg
 
The Creative Industries Cluster is expected to start in 2017, and a budget of €750,000 is foreseen for the first two years. By actively engaging the Design Action Group in the Design for Europe events, a plan of work has been agreed including developing a strategic vision for design, prioritising a list of high impact policy actions, ensuring the appropriate actors are mobilised and defining the indicators for measuring impact. There is a concrete opportunity for Luxinnovation and MUDAM to capitalise on the appetite generated through Design for Europe and secure design’s position in the national political agenda.

Our ambition is to support design in Luxembourg, and this support should be adapted as much as possible to entrepreneurs’ needs and create substantial impact.

Francine Closener, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy, Luxembourg

 
“Our ambition is to support design in Luxembourg, and this support should be adapted as much as possible to entrepreneurs’ needs and create substantial impact.”
Francine Closener, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy, Luxembourg