Event details

  • Date:
  • Location: Centro Cultural Vila Flor,
    Guimarães, Portugal


"What is design? It's where you stand with a foot in two worlds – the world of technology and the world of people and human purposes – and you try to bring the two together." Mitchell Kapor, entrepreneur and developer of the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet

EBN is a network of over 250 European Business and Innovation Centres (EUBICs) and other organisations that support the development and growth of innovative entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs. This year their annual conference was held in Guimarães, Portugal and focussed on design as a driver and enabler of innovation. Design Council and the University of Lancaster represented Design for Europe at this prestigious and impressive 2-day event, facilitating a keynote panel discussion and workshop. Design for Europe was the main partner of the event.

Design Council’s CEO John Mathers opened the Congress with a plenary session titled ‘Leading Business by Design’, affirming that companies that invest in design tend to be more innovative, more profitable, and experience faster growth than those who do not. John highlighted with the help of several case studies that design thinking is a tool that can help solve problems across the private, public and third sectors.

This was followed by three senior speakers from companies across Europe who shared their experiences of successfully using design principles as part of their corporate strategy. Pedro Janiero from Novabase in Portugal, Irena Vodopivec from Gorenje Corporate University in Slovenia and Anders Liland from Wilfa AS in Norway used their presentations to demonstrate how the strategic use of design at senior level has enabled innovation and business growth within their companies, and highlighted their future challenges. The session aimed to inspire the 250 attendees to think about how they use design in their own business, and whether they needed to enhance design skills at boardroom level.

On the same day, the University of Lancaster hosted a two-hour workshop entitled ‘Design-Driven Innovation within the Supply Chain’, hosted by Dr David Hands.

The session explored the role of design methods to support better management of supply chains. This is built on work done in the UK, which found that significant business growth can be driven by being smarter about the companies you buy from, and changing how you work with your suppliers.

Dr Hands gave a presentation covering the background, before facilitating an interactive workshop for around 36 participants. During a lively session, participants were formed into four groups – business (manufacturing, and service providers), the public sector and academia – and using the Design Council’s tried-and-tested ‘Double Diamond’ model, explored the different roles within their supply chain (suppliers, clients, distributors, etc.) alongside different stages of the design process. Each group left the workshop equipped with new design approaches to utilise in their own business or country.

Host organisations