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Design & Innovation Policy

Our Design Policy Research takes a macro view of design, looking at national and regional innovation ecosystems and policies to support design. That is, examining and encouraging an environment that is conducive to the application of design. PDR has been active in advising national, regional and local governments throughout Europe. A major aim of the Policy team is to influence the next generation of innovation policies by communicating the value of design to the development of manufactured products, the development of services in both the private and public sectors, and, in addressing wider societal issues.


People Powering Policy: Research Fellowship



Developing an Action Plan for the Strategic Use of Design in the UK



Mapping Design Innovation Eco Systems


Projects + Partners

We have extensive experience in developing, leading, and partnering in collaborative and multi-disciplinary projects through Horizon 2020, Interreg, UKRI and many others. Much of this work shares and develops new ways of designing policies and interventions that stimulate innovation within the economy.

Below are examples of some of the projects we have delivered:

Developing an Action Plan for the Strategic Use of Design in the UK, £468K AHRC

This collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University sees PDR provide both User Centred Design and Design Policy expertise to better understand the diverse needs of the design sector, and generate appropriate policy recommendations.

Mapping Design Innovation Eco Systems, £50K AHRC

By mapping and analysing the two design innovation ecosystems, this research proposed a set of concrete recommendations to the Welsh Government and Scottish Enterprise to improve existing innovation programmes and policy initiatives.

People Powering Policy, £160K AHRC

People Powering Policy was a two-year AHRC fellowship led by Dr Anna Whicher to explore the role of design in policy-making. The project identified where and how design research enhanced policy-making through greater citizen involvement.

Design4Innovation, £1.7m Interreg

Design4Innovation is a collaborative project organised by eight European partners dedicated to promoting design as a tool for user-centred innovation, and is funded under the Interreg Europe Programme of the European Commission.

Professor Anna Whicher is Associate Director of Research at PDR. Her main research interest is in developing, implementing and evaluating policies using design methods with users and stakeholders. Anna is responsible for developing partnerships, conducting research, engaging users in co-creating policies and evaluating impact for government, innovation agencies, sector councils and trade associations in the UK, across Europe and around the world. In 2017, Anna was awarded an AHRC Policy Fellowship to explore how design research could enhance citizen engagement at different stages of the policy process.

Anna has supported a range of design policy developments at regional level in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wallonia, Flanders, Rhone-Alps, Central Macedonia, Silesia, at national level in Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Republic of Georgia, Ukraine, Thailand and Singapore as well as engaging regularly with the European Commission and European Central Bank.

Anna is a member of the AHRC Public Policy Advisory Group, European Commission’s H2020 Reviewer Team, Bureau of European Design Associations, Associate Parliamentary Group for Design and an accredited Master Trainer for the Service Design Network.

Anna's research outputs can be found here.

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