First international design policy conference looking for solutions for the future of Europe

How Can Design Serve? -banneri

Design certainly plays a central yet unexploited role in the European economy, but how could it be fostered in policies? This week in Helsinki, on Thursday 5th December, an established group of experts from the fields of business, environment, government, policy-making, technology and design is gathering for the first international design policy conference, ’Successful Europe. How can design serve?

Keynote speakers include Erkki Liikanen, Chair of Trustees of IFRS Foundation, Governor of the Bank of Finland (2004-2018) and EU Commissioner (1995-2004) and Anna Athanasopoulou, European Commission, Head of Unit, Tourism, Emerging & Creative Industries, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry Entrepreneurship & SMEs. The day will be opened with a welcome from Hanna Kosonen, Finland’s Minister of Science and Culture.

Design is a solution for complex challenges

With the key question of ‘How can design serve?’, experts and policy-makers will explore and find new ways for design to positively and creatively influence decision-makers seeking solutions to the complex challenges of climate change & circular economy; digitalisation & artificial intelligence and shared European values.

– Success of Europe depends on how we are able to find solutions to global challenges. We are in great need of novel and creative solutions, and design can provide tools for this. This is a right moment to create an environment for innovation in climate change mitigation and digitalisation and to have a dialogue on values in Europe, says Päivi Tahkokallio, President of Bureau of European Design Associations (BEDA).

The European Union created its first design action plan in 2013 with an active input from BEDA. Since then many global challenges, including climate change and digitalisation have only grown in importance, and it is high time to create a next generation design policy for Europe.

Design is an engine for European sustainable economy

In digitalized world design thinking has become a key area of excellence in sustainable value chain. Design thinking creates intangible value and is crucial for sustainable growth and jobs in Europe.

The importance of creative industries is increasing in Europe. The latest survey conducted by EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Organisation) shows that 45 % of the DGP of EU is produced by fields related to intangible value creation. Design alone creates 16 % of it.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) form Europe’s intangible asset, which is consisted of new innovations and outcome of a creative work. This sectors’ value constitutes 45 percent of GDP in Europe. The value of IPR-intensive industry in Europe is 6,6 billion euros. The industry employs directly almost 63 million people, which is 29 per cent of Europe’s work force. The indirect employment of the industry is up to 84 million employees, forming 39 per cent of the work force in total. IPR-intensive industries seem to be more resilient in coping with the severe economic turmoil. Those companies deploying design form 15 per cent of EU’s GDP.

Most of the companies are small and medium size companies in Europe. They formulate 57 percent of GDP in EU. The importance of immaterial rights is growing in Europe. Innovative companies deploy immaterial rights strategically. The IPR-intensive businesses create already almost 45 percent of GDP in Europe.

– Design as a knowledge-intensive field of expertise certainly has a place in sustainable material innovations, in creating new products and services, brands and business models. It supports industries under heavy transformation in a digitalised world, says Päivi Tahkokallio.

Successful Europe – How can design serve? in a nutshell

The Bureau of European Design Associations (BEDA) has invited 100 European and international design and policy experts to come together in Helsinki as a part of the official side programme of Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, to explore how design can serve in an age of complex global challenges.

The conference is organized together with Ornamo Art and Design Finland and is supported by Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture along with the City of Helsinki and the Arts Promotion Centre of Finland.

The participative conference will elicit forward-looking policy content and recommendations from AI, business, policy-making, government, science and technology, design/design policy and experts in the three conference themes below.

Media invitation to international design policy conference

Media representatives are cordially invited to attend the conference on 5th of December at Central Library Oodi in the heart of Helsinki.

See full programme here:


For interviews and photos please contact:

Elina Perttula

+358 43 211 0755

Conference App

The conference app is now available for your handheld devices. Please download the Eventos Mobile App at and simply enter the pin code 6627 when asked to do so.

BEDA’s and Ornamo Art and Design’s design policy papers: