Inspiration & Case Studies

Innovationshuset, a creative and joint project for all the departments in Copenhagen Municipality.

Q&A with Diana Arsovic Nielsen - Chief of Innovation at the City of Copenhagen at Innovationshuset

What is Innovationshuset and why — in your opinion — is it needed in Copenhagen?

Innovationshuset (in English The Innovation House) is a creative and joint project for all the departments in Copenhagen Municipality. What is unique and absolutely essential about our work is that we create projects with, and not for, the departments. Together with our colleagues at the departments, we put everyday situations to the test. We regard innovation as a process that identifies users’ needs, translates them into concepts by means of design, and generates value through business understanding and business development. Only by linking design with the business we can create sustainable solutions. Innovationshuset is needed in Copenhagen Municipality to consolidate forces to make work of municipal development fast and rewarding and to ensure we put the needs of our citizens first when we develop new services and solutions. By facilitating the formation of organic networks, we make sure relevant users, citizens and private operators are brought together every time we develop new solutions. This ensures us the knowledge to develop the right solutions for the right people, and at the same time solutions that are fit for a rapidly changing world.

Can you give an example of a case that you think is successful from Innovationshuset?

In 2016, we worked with International Citizen Service, a center in Copenhagen that helps newcomers start their life in Denmark smoothly. The aim was to ensure a better reception at the center where they, since the opening in 2013, had experienced great popularity and thus had a waiting line up to 90 minutes.

Together with the staff at International Citizen Service, Innovationshuset observed the users, interviewed them and developed prototypes to test the effect of various ideas on-site. One of the findings of the project was that 55.000 people showed up at the center yearly, but 25.000 of them were rejected at the counter because they lacked the right documents. Therefore, a digital visitation was developed to ensure a shorter processing time. Moreover, the center was refurbished, and a new wayfinding was developed in conjunction with the digital solution.

This brought down the waiting line and the number of complaints significantly, and the project is a successful example of how you can use design tools to rapidly identify user’s needs and test ideas in order to come up with a solution that has the desired outcome.

What is your vision and ideas on what is needed to better enhance design enabled innovation in Copenhagen?

It is not our aim at Innovationshuset to get the best ideas. Instead, our aim is to teach our colleagues and to contribute with relevant methods so that we make sure the best ideas are born where they ought to generate the most value for people: in the many projects that are being carried out every day at the departments.

Therefore, we believe that the way to enhance design enabled innovation in Copenhagen is to make sure the employees throughout the entire organization are trained in using the methods in their daily work. We regard innovation as a craft everyone can learn, but it requires training. Therefore, we run courses to teach employees how to use design and business methods in their daily work. They can then go on to share that knowledge with their colleagues in the departments, and eventually, that knowledge will become part of the DNA of the entire City of Copenhagen.

Inspiration & Case Studies

Designrejse, a Danish initiative that aims that more SMEs generate growth through a design-driven approach to innovation

Q&A with Malene Jung - Project manager Danish Design Centre and working on a national initiative called The Design Journey (Designrejse).

What is Designrejse and why did DDC started it?

Design Journey is the Danish Design Centres new, ambitious national effort towards small and medium-sized businesses. The effort offers a range of activities for leaders and development managers who wish to experience and try out how design methods can contribute to strengthening their businesses growth and competitiveness. With Design Journey, the Danish Design Centre has invited some of the country’s best designers and innovators to become part of a new mentor corps that will contribute to boosting the market for design services and the demand for design competencies.

What would be the greatest outcome of your initiative Designrejse?

A lot of Danish companies are already involving designers in innovation and business development. However, Danish companies and Denmark as a nation could benefit even more from design and design thinking as a positive factor for growth, innovation and business development in business and industry. Together with Epinion, the Danish Design Centre and the Confederation of Danish Industries (DI) have mapped how companies used design in 2016. 90% of the companies that use design in processes and strategic decisions state that design has a positive impact on the bottom line. Therefore, our aim with Design Journey is that more SME’s generate growth through a design-driven approach to innovation.

What is your vision and ideas on what is needed to better enhance design enabled innovation in Copenhagen?

Danish Design Centre’s mission is to promote the use of design in business and industry all over Denmark. That said, Copenhagen is world-renowned for being a design destination. The Capital Region of Denmark and the region’s municipalities have begun to develop a Smart Greater Copenhagen strategy. With the aim of an ambitious and holistic strategy that brings municipalities, citizens and companies together around a common course for the digital society of tomorrow in Greater Copenhagen, the Capital Region of Denmark and the Danish Design Centre have engaged in a partnership aimed at developing and carrying out a design-driven and user-involving strategy process.

In 2018, we move into Realdania’s exciting new complex BLOX, which is going to house the Innovation Hub for architecture, construction, urban development and design. We aim to realise the vision behind BLOX and through a design-driven approach, we’ll help Danish companies to create, produce and export tomorrow’s solutions.

20th Anniversary of RAM Central Stara Planina Association in Elena, Bulgaria

On 17th November 2017, the DESIGNSCAPES Project Manager Francesco Molinari took part in the celebration event of the 20th anniversary of RAM Central Stara Planina association, which was organized in the town of Elena (Bulgaria).

More than 30 mayors, deputy mayors, chairpersons of municipal councils, city officials, representatives of cultural institutions, businesses, regional and national associations of local authorities were introduced to the aims of the DESIGNSCAPES project and encouraged to support those urban innovation processes that, thanks to a Design enabled approach, demonstrate the capacity to increase the generative potential of solutions to critical and systemic problems.

One month before the Executive Director of RAM Central Stara Planina Mariela Petrova had announced to participants in the Gabrovo Innovation Camp 2.0 the DESIGNSCAPES call for the proposal that will come up in 2018 to support at least 50 Design enabled initiatives of public and/or private sector organisations in Europe.

Designscapes Will Help Valencia Regional Government to Promote Local “Orange Economy”

On 10th November 2017, Pau Rausell and Chuan Li from the Econcult team participated in the kick-off meeting for promoting regional cultural and creative economies organized by Conselleria de Hacienda y Modelo Económico of Valencia regional government (Generalitat Valenciana). The First Meeting of Orange Economy, (held in the Ciutat de la Justicia of Valencia), was a working meeting that brought together about 40 representatives of Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs), such as architecture, visual arts, visuals and scenery, cinema, design, publishing, fashion design, music, etc. Pau Rausell, the director of Econcult of the University of Valencia, introduced the Designscapes project with emphasis on the potential benefits of this on-going European Horizon 2020 project for both policy design of regional government and funding resources of local cultural and creative entrepreneurs. Econcult and the regional government reached a preliminary mutual intent of cooperation for policy design of cultural and creative economy by means of the fruits of the Designscapes project.

The main objective of this meeting was to gather good ideas for strengthening the regional creative economy through a consultation study with experts and institutions in the CCIs and to build an Expert Working Group to prepare a further action plan on how to develop a creativity and talent-based Orange Economy which will serve as a mid- and long-term regional strategy in the Valencia Autonomous Community. The Econcult and the regional government agreed to collaborate for the transfer of achievements of the project to the context of local policy-making processes, mainly based on White Paper of Design-enabled Innovation that the project will publish as an important project deliverable.

Orange economy, a term coined by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), refers to the cultural and creative economy and it was a term used to treat that theme in Latin America and Caribbean. The orange colour was chosen to capture this new economy because it represents culture, creativity, arts and entertainment in current and ancient societies around the world. In addition, Valencia is, coincidentally, well-known as “the land of orange”, which further encourages the regional government to incorporate that new “orange” economy within the process of change of Valencian economic model.

In the meeting, experts offered a series of ideas to develop a cultural and creative regional economy, based on a design thinking-driven workshop, including,

  • In economy, setting up a target share of GDP for orange economy; identifying the prioritized sectors and adapting step by step action plan;

  • In finance, increasing public funding for cultural and creative sectors and attracting more venture capital and other private funds;

  • In industry, supporting the internationalization of local creative enterprises; encouraging cultural and technological innovation through interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration;

  • In talent and education, introducing more creative and innovative talents and entrepreneurs; optimising the quantity and quality of professional education and training programmes.

As Empar Marinez Bonafé - general director of public sector, economic model and heritage of Valencia regional government - pointed out that many people have left behind the increasing demand for orange economy and therefore, it is necessary for policymakers to take actions to strengthen the awareness and capacity in developing economy by means of talents, creativity and innovation.

Designscapes Project Presentation at an International Conference on Entrepreneurship and Development in Chania, Crete

On 13th October 2017, Francesco Molinari presented the Designscapes project to an International Conference on Entrepreneurship and Development organized by the Chania Chamber of Commerce in Crete, Greece. Apart from the invited international speakers, the audience (approx. 100 people) was mostly composed of local businesses, academics and policymakers, including a representative of the Greek Ministry of Economic Development. Mr Molinari specifically took part in a panel session on “New Innovative Entrepreneurship” aiming to suggest and identify new pathways of development for the knowledge-based regional economy of Crete. The promotion of co-design and design thinking to support this policy endeavour was suggested as a viable option, supported also by the comparatively higher performance that design-intensive industries and companies display over the competition, according to several studies and collections of statistical evidence from both Europe and the US.

Combining Digital and Co-Design Approaches for Design Innovation in Urban Economies

University of Surrey, UK

On 25 September 2017, the University of Surrey and Designscapes project team members, led by Professor Lampros Stergioulas and Dr Munir Abbasi, organised an open workshop on COMBINING DIGITAL AND CO-DESIGN APPROACHES FOR DESIGN INNOVATION IN URBAN ECONOMIES with the support of Surrey’s Urban Living theme and Designscapes project partner Daniel Van Lerberghe from Worldcrunch. The team mobilised their respective networks of experts, with a workshop agenda that included 7 keynote presentations, and overall participation exceeding 30 experts, including researchers (e.g. from Surrey, Cambridge, Exeter universities), designers (e.g. from Belgium’s Design Council), practitioners (from various SMEs), and policymakers (e.g Knowledge Transfer Networks).

The organizing team sent more than 400 bulletins/invitations, using the Eventbrite Event’s platform, reaching their networks of targeted stakeholders: researchers, designers, practitioners and policymakers. The organising team made extensive use of diverse social media and support organizations Facebook Pages (@designscapesproject), LinkedIn, Twitter and In total, over 600 individuals were reached using all the social media and sharing tools. The organising team also promoted the workshop on the Designscapes project website [].

The day included keynote talks and presentations from Designscape members and academic experts as well as speakers from the Industry, networks and design councils,e.g. Design Council Belgium; Knowledge Transfer Network, UK etc.

The Workshop day focused on the following themes:

•    Urban environments (Data-driven innovation and analytics, City’s Innovation Generation Capacity, Smart Cities, Innovation processes in cities),

•    The New Economy (i.e., digital economy, circular economy, urban economies, and bio-economy),

•    Design thinking, and

•    Co-creation, Citizen driven innovation and participation.

A common understanding of the barriers, challenges and opportunities and future recommendations in the areas of design innovations was developed.