A unique support programme from Wales enhancing both supply of and demand for innovation services.
Public support for innovation has traditionally focused on technology and manufacturing. But it is the service sector generates approx. 70% of GDP in the EU and almost all businesses being founded and all jobs created are in services. Improvement of competitiveness and profitability of services can have huge impact on the economy.
The Welsh Government (WG) recognised design-led service innovation as one the priority areas. Design Wales (DW) received funding from the WG to develop a support programme that demonstrates how service design can help companies grow, kick-starting a demand for design-led service innovation. Through its previous business support initiatives, DW had a deep understanding of SMEs needs, increasingly competing on service, and design industry that was not ready to offer service design on a broader scale.
The Service Design Programme used service design as a tool for economic growth and was co-developed by DW with companies in the design and manufacturing sectors. The offer included:
•For businesses: Events, Telephone Advisory Service, Service Essentials Workshop and Service Strategy Programme aiming to introduce companies to principles of service design and train staff in its methods in order to create demand for SD. Case studies of supported companies served further as promotional tool.
•For designers: Service Design for Designers – 6-month up-skilling training programme for product design agencies to create the ‘supply’ of service design expertise.

Resources needed

The Programme that lasted three years costed £270,000 and required a team of three dedicated business and service design advisors.

Evidence of success

DW has implemented a service design process with over 40 companies demonstrating the impact of SD approach and trained over 30 designers, creating a pool of talent supplying innovation advice for SD.
One of the success stories is an intervention with Hydro Industries - a high-tech manufacturing company making electro-based products for water purification. A new service-based business model and an investment of £50k in R&D helped to generate additional sales of £500k within next six months.

Potential for learning or transfer

As it is the first programme specifically focused on manufacturing and service design, the outcomes should provide useful models for future design programmes.
Design Wales approached supply and demand side at the same time allowing for a new type of innovation market to develop. Service design is still considered an emerging sector in many regions and the Welsh programme is the perfect case to follow in other regions. By taking co-design approach in the programme development process, Design Wales ensured that the innovation programme was designed properly and developed in a way that minimised risk by responding to stakeholder needs.

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Main institution
Cardiff Metropolitan University
East Wales, United Kingdom
Start Date
June 2010
End Date
June 2013


Piotr Swiatek Please login to contact the author.

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