Innovation By Design

Project information

Index: 0117R1
Priority:1: Innovation and the knowledge economy
Sub Theme:Entrepreneurship and SMEs
Location IRELAND IRELAND Sligo Border, Midland and Western Start/End date of the practice
Start: 2007-06-01
End: 2008-09-01

Topic of the practice

Innovation by Design was a mentor-led programme based on best practice in Europe and the US. The Centre for Design Innovation in Sligo, Ireland worked with six SMEs in a tailored programme that enabled them to develop innovative products.

Good Practice Information

The Centre for Design Innovation in Sligo,invited six SMEs across a range of sectors – software, manufacturing and services – based in the northwest of Ireland to particpate in a mentor-led programme which would enable them to develop innovative products and services and to generate competitive advantage.To develop the programme, the Centre hosted the event ‘Meeting of Minds’ with key design practitioners from the UK, USA and Ireland who had extensive experience of running SME design programmes. Research from this event and the user-centred work by IDEO, Ziba and the D-School in the US, as well as the UK Design Council’s Designing Demand programme, formed the basis of the methodology which conceptually defined the Innovation by Design programme. From an initial list of 200 companies, devised from recommendations by government support agencies on which SMEs would benefit most from the programme and would be willing to commit to such an initiative, a final group of six
were selected to take part. Two Design Associates with extensive experience in design support, industry and research engaged with the companies at various points to facilitate the programme’s aims and objectives. The 18-month programme had a total budget of €120,000. The cost to each company was €1500, for which staff would received two network days, three workshops and 5–7 days of mentoring sessions. The real cost was around €10,000 per company. The network events occurred roughly every three months, including workshops on specific issues such as branding or product development, and an online site was created to manage communications and provide a digital forum for the organisations to communicate at any time.

Evidence of success

Within 15 months each company applied a design approach to understanding customers’ needs first. Avenue Moulding mapped its service offering, developed a well-received quick-start mould manual for its customers and engaged with a new design firm. Connacht Gold engaged with Institute of Technology Sligo design students and staff to develop a range for 12-month and 5-year product concepts. Infacta is completing a rebranding programme and has hired a full-time designer. Mantis Cranes made over two dozen design modifications to a developing crane and implemented a new product-development process. The Institute of Technology Sligo rebranded the college. Ireland West Airport made adjustments to its check-in and queuing procedures, as well as developing concepts for new, sustainable and better-designed trolleys to enhance the passenger experience.

Contact details to obtain further information on the practice

Anna Whicher

Design Wales / UWIC

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