The fifth Design4Innovation partnership meeting in Riga marked an important milestone on our project journey. Having analysed our design ecosystems, innovation policies and operational programmes in the first semester, we identified and shared best practice in financial and non-financial business support for design and innovation in following months. On 30th and 31st October, the partners and their stakeholders came together to a meeting organised by LIAA (Investment and Development Agency of Latvia) to turn their lessons learnt and insights into ambitious, targeted yet realistic Design Action Plans.

The knowledge exchange workshop on the first day of the meeting focused on developing a vision and actions for the action plans. Dr Anna Whicher, Head of Design Policy at PDR, gave an overview of existing design action plans and policies in Europe and drew out the most important lessons for our task. In the first exercise partners revisited their analyses of design ecosystems and based on the knowledge gained in the project defined the key objectives for their plans. Then in a card sorting activity, the partners reviewed actions from existing design action plans to see if there are possible solutions that could be adapted to their action plans. Ideas for action were prioritised using impact matrix.

“In PDR Design Policy Team, we not only look at how governments can promote and support design for the good of economy and wellbeing, but also how creative design methods can be applied for more inclusive and citizen-centric public policy and service development. Based on our research of design policy we created ‘Design Action Cards’ game that the partners found extremely helpful and engaging.”

Piotr Swiatek, Researcher at PDR and Design4Innovation Officer

Using a poster tool, partners selected up to five actions from the previous exercise and looked at their implementation in more detail, thinking about players involved, time frames, cost and funding source, and impact metrics. At the end, each team plotted their journeys and activities to achieving a successful action plan launch by looking at how the existing Design Action Plans were developed and implemented.

An initial list of proposals developed in Riga, will be gradually refined in coming months through further stakeholder engagement and peer review process to achieve a set of high-impact actions related to design-driven innovation in partner regions. Stakeholder engagement is key in the policy development process to build ownership and ensure that the actions respond to the needs, hence we involve our stakeholder groups at every stage of the project.

On the second day we visited Riga Chair Factory to hear from its founder about how the company grew from a small distributor model to sizeable factory delivering innovative projects thanks to design approach and export support services offered by LIAA.


“Multidisciplinarity and collaboration are key words in Design Factory. We are open to students, academics and industry to create a new hands-on learning culture and opportunities for radical innovation.”  

Liga Efeja, RTU Design Factory Coordinator

For the rest of the day we were based at RTU Design Factory, which is an inspirational space at Riga Technical University where innovative ideas take shape. Just before the Steering Committee Meeting we had a chance to hear from Dita Danosa, Deputy Head of the Latvian Design Council on the role and involvement of the Council in developing and implementing Latvian Design Policy. It was very motivating to see how design actions from the policy document are turned into reality. Some of the initiatives mentioned by Dita include:

  • Policy ambition – “Introduction of design discipline in school curriculum”
    Action – Skola 2030 programme – competency approach in learning forsees a compulsory subject “Design and Technology”
  • Policy ambition – “Improvement of the design education system”
    Action – Latvijas Skolas Soma (Latvian School Bag) programme – kids will be receiving a variety of professional art and cultural events experience
  • Policy ambition – “Increasing quality of Latvian design”
    Action – Introduction of state recognized National Design Award
  • Policy ambition – “Integration of the Latvian design into businesses.”
    Action – 15 business incubators created that focus on interdisciplinary competencies and use of design as source of innovation”
  • Policy ambition – “Long-term development of the Latvian design sector.”
    Action – Creation of the Design Contact Point to advocate, influence and engage design stakeholders.


Good luck to Dita on her new role of the Head of Design Contact Point, we look forward to further fruitful collaboration!

More good practices in design policy from across Europe as well as from Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and New Zealand will be shared during our Insight Forum in Brussels on 20th November 2018.