Piloting the First Design Support Programme
The Malta Business Bureau (MBB) plays an important role in stimulating innovation in Maltese enterprises and ensuring that Maltese business interests are represented at the EU level and is a member of Business Europe, Enterprise Europe Network and Eurochambres.
The success of the MBB in participating in European projects and networks encouraged them to engage with Design for Europe and organise a range of knowledge transfer activities for the benefit of the business community. Before attending the Design for Growth Summit in Brussels, design was only on the periphery of the MBB’s radar. Following the conference and the appointment of the MBB as Design for Europe Ambassadors, design has become a central component in MBB’s mission to support enterprises.
“We closely follow innovation trends but design was a very new method for MBB. We attended the SME Assembly in Naples then the Design for Growth Summit in Brussels and we were convinced that design was a capability we needed to maximise. We also knew from day one that we needed to collaborate. For us, Design for Europe was a fast track to new knowledge on design-led innovation.”
Joe Tanti, CEO Malta Business Bureau, Design for Europe Ambassador, Malta
The appointment of the Malta Business Bureau as Ambassadors for Design for Europe itself helps greatly in putting design on the national enterprise policy agenda,also intensified cooperation between the MBB, Ministry for the Economy Investment and Small Business, the Ministry of Culture and the new Valletta Design Cluster
Through Design for Europe, the MBB also enhanced its collaboration with the Ministries for Economy and Culture.
“The appointment of the Malta Business Bureau as Ambassadors for DfE itself helps greatly in putting design on the national enterprise policy agenda, also intensified cooperation between the MBB, Ministry for the Economy Investment and Small Business, the Ministry of Culture and the new Valletta Design Cluster.”
Caldon Mercieca, Project Leader, Valletta Design Cluster, Ministry of Culture and Justice
The Valletta Design Cluster is an initiative led by the Culture Directorate aimed at supporting and stimulating growth for start-ups and organisations engaged in design-intensive activity. The Cluster complements existing investment by government in design education, enterprise support, start-up infrastructure and internationalisation, with a dedicated focus on design and design related needs for practitioners and enterprises. The initiative is a Valletta 2018 European Capital of Culture flagship project, with a site identified inside Valletta currently undergoing conversion to serve as the basis for the Cluster and its facilities. Since 2016, the Valletta Design Cluster is a member of the Bureau of European Design Associations (BEDA).
How Design for Europe helped
Attended by over 140 participants from the private and public sectors, the ‘Innovation Through Design’ conference held in November 2015 showcased methods, tools and metrics for leveraging innovation through design. With the involvement of Design for Europe, the Ministry for the Economy Investment and Small Business, Enterprise Europe Network, Valletta Design Cluster and the MBB, the conference involved stakeholders from across the Design Ecosystem in exploring how design could contribute to innovation in businesses, the public sector and policy in a Maltese context.
“From a personal point of view, I am particularly pleased with the progress of the Design for Europe initiative over the past year, after having encouraged the MBB to include in its work programme an initiative construed by a number of actions encouraging businesses of all sizes to make design central to their business strategy. It is a holistic approach incorporated in the company image, business process, management mentality and employees’ delivery. I wish to see more local companies taking on this ideal, as it helps them become more innovative and competitive in international markets.”
Mario Spiteri, President of the Malta Business Bureau 2014-2016
Businesses can only thrive by being leaders in the market. Being leaders in the market implies change, not for the sake of change, but for delivering a better product, a better service, to the consumer, a product or a service which is unique in the marketplace.
The conference was attended by many enterprises with which MBB had not previously had connections, which demonstrated the growing interest in design. At the conference the results of an online survey by esprimi.eu focused on perceptions of design and innovation among employers and entrepreneurs in Malta. The results were encouraging. Of the [x] companies surveyed, 95% stated they had implemented new products or services within the past three years. Some of the key findings relating to design include that companies employing 5-9 employees association design with competitive advantage to the same extent as with innovation.
Design activities tend to be conducted by in-house designers (86%) rather than by external design consultants (14%). In the past year, 68% of firms recruited experts in design to contribute to new product or service development. Furthermore, 47% asserted that they generated a return on investment from a new design of a product or service within a year of launch. As a result of this new data and a growing community of design enthusiasts, support for design was reiterated by the Ministry of Economy, Investment and Small Business:
“Businesses can only thrive by being leaders in the market. Being leaders in the market implies change, not for the sake of change, but for delivering a better product, a better service, to the consumer, a product or a service which is unique in the marketplace.”
Nancy Caruana, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Economy, Investment and Small Business
The MBB embarked upon a new pilot initiative comprised of a series of workshops targeting 15 local companies from various services sectors. The workshops built capacity for the companies to perform a design diagnostic using self-assessment tools according to their specific requirements. The pilot ran over a number of months and resulted in a compilation of expert recommendations to guide the businesses on how they can improve their services and how they can use readily available design self-assessment tools.
It is safe to say that good design is an investment that breathes quality assurance and is also very profitable. There is an undeniable congruity between design and innovation
“It is safe to say that good design is an investment that breathes quality assurance and is also very profitable. There is an undeniable congruity between design and innovation; two crucial elements to be able to rise up to today’s cutthroat competition challenges. In the manufacturing base for instance, design is indispensable as it creates value to products, and differentiates them to others. Anybody can replicate another product but replicating unique design that is ingrained in a product is a different story.”
Mario Spiteri, President of the Malta Business Bureau 2014-2016
The pilot involved an intensive two-day workshop whereby participating companies were introduced to the fundamentals of service design as a user-centred, collaborative, evidenced and agile way to develop services that correspond to market and user needs. Design for Europe brought five service design experts to explore the specific requirements for each company and elaborate a set of actions to improve the customer experience of their service. Following an implementation phase, a follow up monitoring visit will took place in Autumn 2016 for the companies to share their experiences and implementation achievements. The results will also be presented at the Design for Europe Summit in Tallinn in October.
“Participating companies benefited from a tailor-made design action plan for their company with a compilation of expert recommendations to guide local businesses on ways to improve their services and make use of readily available self-assessment tools. This gives companies the ability to assess their business performance from a design perspective and gain knowledge on how to implement a service design approach in their respective business environment. This new endeavour will assist businesses in becoming leaders in the market by assist them in opening up the doors for valuable opportunities by the often underestimated importance of design. Now we have become more ambitious and are seeking to influence the policy agenda on our island.”
Joe Tanti, CEO Malta Business Bureau
The results of the pilot and the exchange of international trends in service design will also serve as a contribution to the Valetta Design Cluster and policy work in Malta.