EC Directorate General Enterprise & Industry
28 months


The European Commission recognises design is a crucial factor in innovation, economic growth and competitiveness in the global market.

€Design was an EC funded project to create a set of tools to measure the positive impact of design, providing evidence to encourage policymakers and businesses across Europe to integrate design into their work.

The €Design project was run by 6 European partners:

  • Barcelona Design Centre (Spain) – Project Coordinator
  • Copenhagen Business School (Denmark)
  • Design Austria (Austria)
  • University of Cambridge / Design Management Group (UK)
  • Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (Hungary)
  • Swedish Industrial Design Foundation (Sweden)

How design helped

Collaboration between the partners was organised into four areas:

1. Definition

The partners devised a clear economic definition of design:
“To design is [to focus on] the integration of functional, emotional, and social utilities.”

This definition goes beyond the traditional economic view of design as an add-on process that takes place after technological development. It’s intended to highlight the fact that the design process is able to integrate the functional, emotional, and social needs of users.

2. Research

Conceptual and qualitative research was conducted to identify guidelines for the measurement of design as a user-centred innovation tool. As a result new questions will be included in national innovation surveys across the EU.

3. Parameters

This work identified ways in which firms could be asked about design in such a way as to produce data with which to quantify the economic benefits of design.

4. Framework

This area of research looked at how existing and emerging best practices in design create value in companies. This knowledge will help shape better comparative methods and more robust guidelines for measuring the value of design.

The outcome

A key output of the €Design project was the production of a communication toolkit – created to help users develop the skills to measure and manage design.

A selection of cards from the €Design communication toolkit

The toolkit comprises set of cards and instructions for a trainer. These have been created to guide companies through a thorough assessment of their innovation processes, developing a deeper understanding of what design could offer.

The €Design project also created a set of questions to be added to Community Innovation Surveys, a regular series of innovation surveys carried out by national statistical offices across the EU.

A project report was published at the conclusion of the project. This contains proposals for the creation of the Barcelona Manual on Design, a new EU-wide guide to collecting design data. The report also includes a series of recommendations for how design is measured and legally protected.