The rationale behind DESIGNSCAPES approach is that cities are looked upon as engines of innovation, to be fostered and stimulated appropriately. In many cases innovation activities are concentrated in spatial niches and result from individual or small network initiatives (social niches) in various domains (mobility, health, ICT, etc.). They are the outcome of the spatial concentration of the empowerment of citizens, looking for new tailored solutions addressing daily challenges.
From a policy perspective these initiatives, and design-enabled Innovations in general, are viewed as one of the mechanisms barring an added value towards adaptive, qualitative and learning cities. However, more insight in the working of design-enabled Innovation as a means and an outcome is needed, taking into account its contextual features, specificity and multiplicity. This can only be done: (1) by learning at 3 levels, namely individual, network and organizational levels, (2) by connecting initiatives within and between cities, and (3) by bringing practice, policy and research together.
DESIGNSCAPES will start realizing its impacts by linking practice, policy and research through 4 EU regional communities (from Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, and Portugal) where DESIGNSCAPES partners have been operating for many years as associations of cities. A mix of knowledge brokerage and learning activities will be carried out.
These activities are combined with community building at three levels:
1) By connecting local practices of design-enabled Innovation and their local networks to state-of-the-art knowledge and research on design-enabled Innovation.
2) By organising an international learning and exchange community.
3) By connecting policy-makers in local, national and EU levels to the on-going design-enabled innovation practices in European cities.
4) By creating awareness how policy measures at all levels of scale can contribute to these practices.
Evidence-based policy-making will be strengthened by supporting learning processes of 'what works'/'what does not work' and under what conditions. This will contribute to more design-enabled Innovation initiatives from the ground, new possibilities for up-scaling of small scale design-enabled Innovation experiments, and new tools of policy making in the field, thereby accelerating design-enabled Innovation for growth.