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Nov 30. 2018

Next Practice In Design Action Plans - Part 2

Hong Kong

Design was strategically embraced by HKSAR Government in a 2017 policy address. HKDC is seeking to shape HK's future with design as a new growth competence. We have trained 750 civil servants in the last few years. It’s another level of expertise to move from design thinking to design doing. The design policy is implemented through funded projects and top-down stewardship. We are in an action-driven phase.

In the past month, I’ve had 20 enquiries from government departments who want to use design thinking. It’s important to be selective and only collaborate with departments that see the strategic value of design and not just the quick wins.



The road to Design of Latvia 2020, may have started many years ago but recently progress has accelerated. Lilita Sparāne, Ministry of Culture, and Dita Danosa, the new Design Innovation Centre Director, presented the key thematic areas of the design strategy. Crucially, the Design Innovation Centre is a key mechanism for implementing the ambitions of the strategy.


The Year of Irish Design 2015, led by the Design and Craft Council of Ireland, represented the largest investment in design promotion by the Irish Government. New research and immersion in ID2015 led the Government to develop a design policy with six actions. Karen Henessy’s key messages were that support from senior politicians including the President and Minister for Business is crucial for creating a legacy beyond the high profile event as is an evaluation of the impact.

We used to use your numbers, now finally we have our own statistics that we can use to engage government.



There is no dedicated design policy in Spain and neither is there in Catalonia. However, Barcelona Design Centre has done a lot of work to map their design ecosystem and mobilise stakeholders to ensure the future action plan is fit for purpose. Isabel Roig, Executive Director of Barcelona Design Centre, shared her insights on measuring and communicating the value of design to policymakers gained through leading the €Design project. She emphasised the need to clearly define indicators, measures of success, and regularly collect comparable data across European countries. Isabel left the audience with a rhetorical question:

If multiple studies show that companies with the strongest commitment to design are more successful while still only 12% of EU companies take a design at the strategy level, why are some governments still reluctant to invest in a Design Action Plan?



Kevin Vella, Economist from the Economic Policy Division at the Ministry of Finance, presented results of the analysis of design activity at firm level in Malta. A survey among 1,840 companies revealed that:

Design activity in Malta tends to increase as firms grow and are more prevalent in export-oriented enterprises;

Particularly smaller start-up firms are not exploiting enough the potential of design as a source of non-price competitiveness to help them grow;

Economies of scale constrain the profitability of design activity among smaller firms;

For medium-sized firms, design activity can be more profitable. These are typically firms that have already established themselves on the market and can benefit from economies of scale.

The Ministry is working closely with Design4Innovation project partner – Valletta 2018 Foundation, to create an action plan that will help businesses to fully exploit the potential of design.

European Commission

Silvia Draghi, Policy Officer from Tourism, Emerging and Creative Industries Unit at DG GROW, announced the Commission’s intention to develop a new Creative Industries policy and gave advice about how the design community can ensure that design features within the new agenda. Furthermore, the Commission will be drafting a new innovation policy and design stakeholders need to ensure that design remains a priority for innovation like it was in the policy Innovation Union.