3 key learnings from the Valletta Design Cluster

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Building up a community for positive change

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The story of the Valletta Design Cluster started in 2018. On that year, Valletta (Malta) held the title of European Capital of Culture jointly with Leeuwarden (The Netherlands). The idea behind the project - led by the Valletta Cultural Agency (VCA) - was to transform a 400-year old abattoir into a brand-new space for culture and creation targeting organisations and entrepreneurs willing to generate positive social value for the community through innovation and creativity.

The Valletta Cultural Agency joined the Design4innovation project, and thanks to the exchange of experience among the Design4Innovation partners, the team learnt how to develop and run co-creation spaces. Last March, the Valletta Design Cluster opened its doors offering to all a unique roof garden and a central courtyard. Various facilities like a makerspace, studios, international project labs, conference rooms and a coworking space are available for artists, creatives and entrepreneurs to meet and collaborate.

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Design4Innovation was extended by a year after our  additional call for activities (5th call). So we are giving the floor to Caldon Mercieca, who is managing the Valletta Design Cluster within the Valletta Cultural Agency. He has given us some insights into the lessons learnt from his experience building up this project.

Innovation and sustainability: 3 key learnings

Learning 1: insights into the concrete application of design thinking

"Design4Innovation has provided the Valletta Design Cluster team with insights into the concrete application of design thinking, specifically in terms of developing products and services around the needs of users and consumers."

Learning 2: understand how to use design to create products and services sustainably

"Through Design4Innovation we have seen how public partners as well as start-ups and enterprises in various European regions use design to create products and services sustainably and in a manner that addresses their users’ and clients’ concrete needs."

Learning 3: accessing tools for implementing a major urban renovation project

"Design4Innovation has provided us with critical tools to implement a major urban renovation project in Valletta, using lessons learnt from other project partners to help us shape a new community hub for design startups, cultural and creative practitioners, and city residents."

As the Valletta Design Agency described it, the old building is now serving as "a bridge between Valletta's 450-year-old history and its future". As a programme, we are happy to have been included in the setup of this exciting new space for creativity and innovation, through the Design 4 Innovation project.

Want to know more?

Visit Design 4 Innovation project website and

Or flip through our 30 stories publication to learn about other policy changes throughout Europe.

Header picture: © Renata Apanaviciene / Valletta Cultural Agency

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