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Design in European Policy (DeEP)

EU wide
EU Competitiveness & Innovation Programme (CIP)
2 years 2 months
Project partners
DeEP consortium


Design is seen by the EC as vital to driving innovation and competitiveness, however the national policies of EU members to support design and innovation are inconsistent and can vary widely.

A handful of European governments including Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France and Latvia do have specific design actions plans, but most governments only tacitly acknowledge design as part of broader innovation policies.

One of the reasons for this is that these approaches have rarely been evaluated. Before the DeEP project there wasn’t an established assessment framework to measure the socioeconomic impact of design policy.

The DeEP project aimed to fill this gap by developing and testing methods and key indicators to evaluate the impact of design policy, at a national, regional and local level.

Policymakers faced a significant challenge when evaluating the effectiveness of design policies and justifying investment in them. DeEP aimed to tackle this by building a culture of evaluation within European design policy.

Stefano Maffei
Coordinator, DeEP

How design helped

The DeEP team applied a design-led approach the outset, with the project split into four phases:

1. Discover – the design policy landscape

This initial phase was explorative: outlining design’s role in innovation and carrying out a comprehensive survey of design policy across Europe.

2. Define – design policy evaluation

The second phase included:

  • Adapting the classic model of policymaking to produce the DeEP Policy Cycle – a process for building rigorous evaluation into design policymaking.
  • Defining the DeEP Evaluation Principle – producing a succinct and clear definition of successful design policy to guide the project.

    The DeEP Policy Cycle

3. Develop – design policy indicators

The third phase focussed on developing indicators to measure the effect of design policy, in particular:

  • Defining and describing micro design indicators (SME level)
  • Defining and describing macro design indicators (regional, national, European level)
  • Testing indicators directly with users in all countries of the project consortium

4. Deliver – the DeEP Evaluation Tool

The final phase brought together the key project concepts into an comprehensive evaluation tool, the work included:

  • Designing, testing and implementing the DeEP Evaluation Tool
  • Producing design policy recommendations with benchmarks based on the micro and macro indicators

DeEP applied a design-led approach to research from the outset, and this method was vital to the creation of the evaluation tool.

Stefano Maffei
Coordinator, DeEP

The outcome

  • 4 countries influenced to adopt new design policies
  • 5 design policy case studies developed
  • 6 publications on design policy

The DeEP project produced:

  • A series of four Policy Issues booklets
  • The DeEP Final Publication – a project overview detailing the DeEP Evaluation Tool
  • The DeEP Glossary – explaining and clarifying the key vocabulary
  • A series of design innovation policy events called DeEP Days – these were held in Italy, UK, Sweden and Poland
  • A Design innovation policy stakeholder seminar in UK
  • A beta version of the DeEP Evaluation Tool aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of design policy on SMEs, and at supporting policymakers to develop better design policy through evaluation.

In order to inform DeEP’s thinking on design policy evaluation, five case studies were developed from across the countries represented in the consortium.

The DeEP case studies are:

  • Un designer per le imprese (Italy – Lombardy Region)
  • Design e Artigianato per il Trentino (Italy – Trentino Alto Adige Region)
  • Designing Demand (UK)
  • Design som Utvecklingskraft (Sweden)
  • Design for Profit (Poland)

These cases studies can be read in full as part of the DeEP Final Publication.

The DeEP project tangibly influenced design policy in four European countries by advocating the importance of the evaluation process. For example, work with the regional government of Lombardy in Italy led to the publication of their ‘Design 2020’ report and a subsequent new policy ‘Design è’.