To learn about D2i – Design to innovate you need to know that it is a design cluster aiming to generate business development and growth in private enterprises through the use of design as a method for innovation. Our focus is not on tangible design products or design as form-giving, but rather on design as a method and a strategic tool for companies to enhance their productivity and business development.
The purpose of D2i is to help companies realize ideas and build and develop collaboration agreements and networks with knowledge institutions and other companies. D2i works across industries, and our project activities and membership options give companies access to strategic design research and knowledge.
The long-term goal for D2i is to integrate design into more companies and thus to promote growth and improve competitiveness.
There is an as-yet untapped potential for applying design and creative competencies as a strategic competitive parameter in small and medium-sized enterprises. An analysis conducted by the Region of Southern Denmark in 2014 found that companies that use design generally have a much stronger competitive position in the international market than companies that do not use design. This is also reflected in the companies’ expectations of the future, as companies that use design and creative competencies have more positive expectations with regard to investments, exports, turnover and the number of employees (Region of Southern Denmark, Kreative erhverv og design, 2014).
Over the past four years, D2i has introduced design and design methods to more than 500 companies, representing more than 1,500 employees and managers.
Analyses paint a clear picture: companies that use design in their business development do significantly better than other companies. In fact, an American study found that over a ten-year period, design-driven companies outperform other companies by 228%.
‘Strategic use of design refers to whether design is embedded in organisational processes and informs strategic choices; whether it is used as a means to differentiate from competition, and whether senior management has a good understanding and appreciation of design,’ Warwick Business School & Design Council
Studies by the Danish Business Authority have demonstrated the capacity of design to contribute to value creation in businesses. Companies that systematically use design as part of their business development are more likely to carry out more innovation projects and also gain a business advantage in the form of increased productivity. In fact, as many as 96% of the companies that actively integrate design into their business development carry out innovation projects, compared to only 57% of companies that do not employ design on a strategic level.
Moreover, companies that use design as an integrated element in their business development have higher productivity than companies that only make limited use of design. The use of strategic is thus a value-creating tool with the capacity to contribute to corporate business processes, development and growth (D2i Working Paper Nr. 2, 2013).
With design as the key factor, D2i engages in a range of activities with a common focus on design targeting different industries at an organizational, executive or staff level. This includes activities aimed at inspiring companies and organizations to take a more innovative approach in their service and business development by means of design thinking and methods.
Our activities cover a broad spectrum, offering companies the opportunity to receive help within their specific field of business. D2i projects are carried out in cooperation with a strong partner network, including Capital of Children, Design School Kolding, Kolding Municipality and the University of Southern Denmark Kolding. D2i activities are mainly aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises and include workshops, training and innovation processes.
We also offer training courses in design methods and match-making to connect companies that create or use design as a strategic tool for improving their business performance. This is aimed at establishing long-term innovation partnerships between knowledge institutions and companies and marketing Danish design competencies internationally.
The partners’ ambition is to build a developing and inclusive design cluster where all companies, knowledge institutions and other public institutions can take part, contribute and find new knowledge and partnership opportunities within the field of design.
Since 2011, D2i has strived to enhance growth in companies through the use of design, and in this effort, the focus has been on two fundamental aspects: method and target group. To fully grasp the value of design, companies must first learn what design is about and what it has to offer. Hence, the focus is not merely on hearing and reading about design but equally on giving employees an opportunity to practice and rehearse professional design methods. D2i believes that the best way to learn is ‘learning by doing’, and hence, D2i’s activities include workshops, network groups and innovation partnerships among companies.
Once companies begin to develop their knowledge and competencies within the design field, they are also more open to involving designers and external design agencies and to developing new design and innovation projects. In this effort, D2i seeks to facilitate the process for companies, for example, when they are looking for the right designer for a new project, or if the company needs professional support and advice in relation to a new design strategy. The target group for D2i’s work is small and medium-sized enterprises that have reached a point where they are ready to give the company an extra push and embrace design-driven business development.
D2i was founded in 2011 as a targeted implementation of the business development strategy for design and creative industries adopted by the Region of Southern Denmark. The Region of Southern Denmark pursues three priority business areas: Sustainable Energy, Health and Welfare Innovation and Experience Economy. Four regional cluster organizations are involved in the implementation of this business strategy: CLEAN, Offshoreenergy.dk, Welfare Tech in the city of Odense and D2i – Design to innovate.
Since then, D2i has been a strong positioned design cluster, placed in a creative environment that includes, among others, the educational institutions Design School Kolding and the University of Southern Denmark Kolding. Since August 2016, D2i has resided in ‘Pakhuset’ (the Warehouse) on Kolding’s harbour front. Pakhuset is a shared working environment and innovation centre for entrepreneurs, educational institutions and a number of small and medium-sized enterprises in the city of Kolding.