Lithuania trails below the EU average in terms of companies using design. According to the European Commission's Innobarometer capturing trends in EU enterprises, 62% of Lithuanian companies do not use design at all (compared to an EU average of 55% not using design). At the top of the ladder, only 6% of Lithuanian firms use design strategically in contrast to 13% of the EU’s 28 Member States.
"The lack of design policy has been an obstacle to the consistent and purposeful development of the design sector and its ability to meet the needs of wider industry. However, things are set to change."
On 3 May 2016, Design for Europe facilitated a Design Policy Workshop for 18 stakeholders representing government, the innovation agencies, academia, the design sector and design promotion organisations to jointly develop a set of policy proposals to enhance the supply of, and demand for, design in Lithuania. The workshop, led by Design for Europe Expert, PDR's Dr Anna Whicher, used design methods to develop policy ideas (policy for design by design).
When policymakers develop innovation policy it is based on an analysis of the Innovation Ecosystem – the actors and initiatives contributing to innovation in a country or region. Design policy should, by extension, also capitalise on the strengths and tackle the weaknesses of the Design Ecosystem – the actors and initiative contribution to design performance.
By mapping Lithuania’s Design Ecosystem and investigating the strengths and weaknesses, the stakeholders were able to develop a set of shorter and longer term policy proposals for the better use of design in Lithuania. The group generated around 70 policy ideas that were refined into a set of 10 higher impact actions.
Policy recommendations ranged from mapping existing innovation programmes to integrate design, simplifying the application procedure for the DESIGN LT funding for businesses, training civil servants in design thinking, hosting joint events between the Lithuanian Design Forum and the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists and training in design for incubators and innovation advisors.
Using the Lithuanian Design Policy Workshop Report, a group of stakeholders presented their ambitions to the Ministry of Economy in early June.
The Ministry have committed to:
Engaging with the National Statistics Department to collect more data on the design sector.
Selecting representatives to form a “Design Bridge” steering committee to advise on design actions.
Collaborating with the Lithuanian Design Forum to organise a series of design and business events.
Explore the opportunities for training civil servants in design methods.
Extend the DESIGN LT programme to include private sector innovation but also to target social issues such as healthcare.
"Design is now included in our business support programmes. We know that design plays a significant role in developing appealing products and services. We will launch the DESIGN LT programme to enable small companies to access up to €10,000 use design for the first time."RICARDAS VALANCIAUSKAS
HEAD OF INNOVATION DEPARTMENT - AGENCY FOR SCIENCE, INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY
Through on-going engagement with Design for Europe stakeholders in Lithuania, particularly the Lithuanian Design Forum, they will be able to take these policy actions from ideas to implementation.
Design Action Plans are a growing phenomenon across Europe with national governments in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland and Latvia as well as the European Commission adopting design policies between 2012 and early 2016.
With the continued support of Design for Europe, Lithuania and other EU countries are set to join their ranks.
Download the workshop report