Project Details

Title: Sharing Experience Europe - policy innovation design
Priority: 1: Innovation and the knowledge economy
Theme: Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Type of intervention

Type of intervention: 1: Regional Initiative Project
Mini-programme: No
Duration: 1st Oct 2008 - 30th Jun 2011


Total budget: €1,498,492.56
ERDF contribution: €1,141,426.45

Lead partner

Design Wales - UWIC
Western Avenue - UWIC
CF5 2YB, Cardiff

  • Click for contact details
    • Contact Person: Anna Whicher
      Phone: 44 2920 417028
      Fax: 44 2920 6970

Project summary

As Europe strives to develop a knowledge-based economy and exploit innovation as a tool for economic growth, it is vital to ensure that innovative ideas actually manifest as successful products and services. Investment in R&D and innovation must be encouraged, but it is equally important for countries to be prepared to convert this knowledge into commercial products and services. Design is seen around the world, particularly in emerging industrial nations outside of Europe, an essential step in the process of transforming innovative ideas into products and services fit for purpose. There is currently a shortfall in this area in most EU countries, particularly within SMEs. The SEE project is a partnership of 11 organisations wishing to establish how this shortfall can be reduced to best effect by sharing experience, developing new thinking and influencing regional policy.

The group will share information on policies that have been successful in using design to boost innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainability or economic development. All the partners are already active in establishing design programmes or strategies at regional or national levels which target SMEs and their lack of resources for implementing design practice and innovation into their business. This group is now willing to develop an interregional cooperation to exchange information and experiences in order to identify, analyse and disseminate good practices on innovation and design policy and other related areas (e.g. sustainability, R&D).

The partner organisations, from UK, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Spain, alll work as an integral part of regional innovation policy and have commitment from regional government to improve their provision and delivery of policies for innovation, entrepreneurship and design.

The SEE project proposes to operate from July 2008 to June 2011. The project will deliver two Conferences, four Thematic Workshops, a Study Visit, a Collection of Good Practices on Design Policies, six Newsletters, an internal contacts database, four Booklets of Policy Recommendations and 6 short films on policy best practice in this field. The aim of the SEE project is to establish an active dialogue within each region at both an operational and strategic level in order to positively influence regional policies for innovation and design.

Project achievements

SEE is a network of 11 European partners engaging with regional, national and European governments to integrate design into policy, particularly innovation policy by pooling knowledge, sharing experience, stimulating debate and developing new thinking. This objective has been achieved through activities including two conferences, five thematic workshops involving partners and policy-makers, four policy booklets, two study visits, an online library of case studies and policy documents, an internal contact database and six project bulletins.


Through the various activities, the partners have been able to strengthen rapport with their policy-makers particularly during the interactive workshop exercises and using the Policy Booklets as a tool to engage government representatives. Consequently, the project is displaying tangible results and has been able to influence the policy agendas in all partner regions.

SEE were named finalists in the 2011 RegioStars award. The judges said: “This is an interesting policy-building project in a forward-looking area – design as a source of innovation. Its broad partnership and EU endorsement gives credibility to the statement that it paves the way towards new innovation policies, suited to regions outside the Science and Technology hubs.”


Sept - Dec 2008 was dedicated to setting up the partnership. The opening conference in October (Cardiff, UK) centred on good practices in design policies and design support programmes for SMEs. A European Commission representative from the Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry discussed future EU innovation policy and opportunities for integrating design.


Jan - June 2009 focused on preparing the SEE website, database, study visit to Helsinki and thematic workshop 1 in Lyon (France). The study visit (May 2009) provided insight into the concept, implementation and results of the Finnish policy 'Design 2005!

Workshop 1 (June 2009) on 'Integrating Design into Regional Innovation Policy' provided input for Policy Booklet 1. Partners also prepared a joint response to the European Commission public consultation on 'Design as a driver of user-centred innovation', a concrete opportunity to incorporate design into EU innovation policy.


July - Dec 2009 saw the partners distributed Policy Booklet 1 and bulletin 1 to key actors and stakeholders in the SEE contacts database. Workshop 2 in November (Copenhagen, Denmark), explored the theme 'Bridging Innovation and Sustainability through Design'.


Jan - June 2010 enabled the partners to publish Policy Booklet 2 (Realising Sustainability and Innovation through Design) and bulletins 2 and 3 (including research, interviews, case studies, policy updates and resources). Workshop 3 in May (Florence, Italy) centred on 'Evaluating Design and Innovation Policies'.

July - Dec 2010 included workshop 4 on 'Bringing Innovative Ideas to Market using Design', workshop 5 on 'Next Generation Design Support Programmes' and study visit 2 (Dott Cornwall, UK), Policy Booklet 3 'Evaluating Design' and bulletin 4. SEE partners are broadening their activities based on best practices transferred from other SEE countries to maximise the impact of the network.


Jan - June 2011 concluded SEE with the 'Policy, Innovation & Design Conference' in the Flemish Parliament with Lead Partner presenting the impact of the SEE project, news from the European Commission about the European Design Innovation Initiative and films with policy developments in each of the 11 SEE partner countries. SEE was able to act as a liaision between the European Commission and design sector in presenting questions from delegates at the final conference to the European Commission. SEE produced bulletins 5 and 6 and Policy Booklet 4.


Institution, Town Country Region Contact details
Design Wales - UWIC, Cardiff UNITED KINGDOM East Wales 44 2920 417028
Design Flanders, Brussels BELGIUM Région de Bruxelles-Capitale / Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest 32 2 227 6058
Danish Design Centre, Copenhagen K DENMARK Hovedstaden 45 33 69 33 69
Estonian Design Centre, Tallinn ESTONIA Eesti 372 6311508
University of Art and Design Helsinki TAIK, Helsinki FINLAND Etelä-Suomi 358 50 325 0609
Regional Agency of Development and Innovation - Design Centre, Lyon FRANCE Rhône-Alpes 33 4 72 75 94 94;
Centre for Design Innovation, Sligo IRELAND Border, Midland and Western 353 71 91 55496
Casa Toscana Consortium, Quarrata (Pistoia) ITALY Toscana 39 (0)57793 7457;
Silesian Castle of Art and Enterprise, Cieszyn POLAND Slaskie 48 33 851 08 21 ext. 35
Museum of Architecture and Design, Ljubljana SLOVENIA Zahodna Slovenija 386 1 540 03 48
BCD - Barcelona Design Centre, Barcelona SPAIN Cataluña 34 932 182822
Aalto University - School of Art and Design, Helsinki FINLAND Etelä-Suomi +358-9-47001


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