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The Future in Design - the competitiveness and industrial dynamics of the Nordic design industry

  • Published 01/03/2005
  • Last updated 09/06/2011
The design industry is a small but important growth industry. The Nordic governments must make more of an effort to meet the needs represented by this sector. The ripple effects from the design industry to other commercial activities are formidable. Network collaboration, internationalization strategies and improvements in education are just some of the measures that might be appropriate at national Nordic level.

This project study the competitiveness of the rapidly expanding Nordic design industry. As every business involves some element of "design", this study focus on specialized firms: those that sell design services to other firms (B2B) and those that sell consumer products which are valued mainly for their design (B2C). Over 20,000 firms in the Nordic countries fit this definition. While this is a relatively small figure, it represents a rapid growth in numbers both of design firms and of those employed in design activities. 

Policy implications

Venture capital for SMEs
The sector faces problems in securing venture capital: companies need more information on such sources of finance, while potential investors must be made more aware of the profits to be made from design and of how to recognize such opportunities.

Networking and clustering
Governments should support professional networking and clustering initiatives, and industry associations that help bring small firms together. There are often big differences between the worlds of the client and the designer: forums, courses and contact brokers can help bridge the gaps. 

Internationalizing design education
Third-level design education needs to be internationalized to a far greater extent than is the case today. 

Business opportunities in design
The public sector should take the design dimension much more into account when making purchasing decisions. Scandinavian Design is a well established and robust international brand that could be better exploited.

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