Design and innovation policy
Is Slovenia ready to formulate a national policy in the field of design?
At the end of 2013, the Regional Development Agency of the Ljubljana Urban Region (RDA LUR) organized a workshop at which participants analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of Slovenian design and the way it is integrated into the economy. The results of the workshop, led by Anna Whicher of the National Center for Product Design and Development Research at Cardiff University, represent important starting points for national design policy-making and design support programs.
In addition to the design profession and institutions responsible for the promotion of design, the workshop was also attended by representatives of the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology and the Ministry of Culture, as well as educational and research institutions. In the workshop, participants used tools that have already been tried and tested in a network of 11 European partners studying the role of design in innovation policies. With the help of these tools, the participants prepared a series of recommendations, which will also be included in the Regional Development Program of the Ljubljana Urban Region for the period 2014–2020.
Design is a dynamic process that leads to innovation in both the private and public sectors and, consequently, to economic development and competitiveness. In Slovenia, however, there are a number of obstacles to more effective integration of design and design thinking into company strategies and public sector activities. The workshop participants therefore focused primarily on studying these barriers and making recommendations for their removal.
The response of the profession to the methodology and results of the workshop was extremely positive, and both ministries showed interest in moving forward in the field of design policies. Exposure to the field of design and the growing recognition of its (including economic) benefits represent an opportunity and the creation of a favorable environment for the promotion of creativity also through policies at the regional, national and international levels. Political decision-makers in Europe point out that all types of innovation must be supported to ensure competitiveness, success and prosperity, and some key European Commission documents recognize design as an important discipline and activity that can contribute to Europe’s innovation capacity. At the same time, in these documents, innovation stemming from design is identified as a key factor in addressing the challenges of the third industrial revolution. Design therefore plays a key role in creating new economic and social value. The systematic use of user-oriented design can stimulate innovations in business models and is at the same time important in solving complex systemic challenges, especially in the transformation of public institutions and strategic decision-making.
A summary of the workshop and a contribution on the integration of design into the LUR Regional Development Program in the June issue of the SEE newsletter can be found in the attachments on the right.