Business-Design Laboratory: a Strategy for Innovation

DS 69: Proceedings of E&PDE 2011, the 13th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, London, UK, 08.-09.09.2011

Year: 2011
Editor: Kovacevic, Ahmed, Ion, William, McMahon, Chris, Buck, Lyndon and Hogarth, Peter
Author: Betancourt, Maria Clara; Mejía Puig, Luis Alfonso
Series: E&PDE
Section: Design Education and Business 1
Page(s): 35-40


The contribution of industrial design schools to the development of innovative products is well known around the industrialized world. In Latin American countries like Colombia, industrial design is a relatively young practice and the market is not yet aware of the importance of design as a factor for innovation. Colombia’s industry creativity is just emerging. For many years focus was put on production and contract manufacturing. Today, however, Eastern countries do it on a more larger-scale and at low prices. This condition has forced the academia to look for ways of linking companies with students and thus, developing more competitive innovation products. In Colombia, the work of industrial designers is almost unknown and there is also no concrete/direct approach to the private sector so as to address the real problems of the industry, improving its competitiveness and recognizing the essential attributes of design in its performance. Due to the growing competition and complexity of today's markets, the companies are changing their value creation process, a difficult task taking into account that only few recognize industrial design as an important asset. From the academia, we are looking for strategies that help us spread the practice of design and motivate companies to do more research, design and product development so as to better compete in the global market. The commitment of the Icesi University is to increase our contribution to the improvement of companies, social organizations, public policies, and communities, as well as gaining recognition for our designers due to their human values, skills and knowledge. The "Industrial design workshop for business innovation” is an initiative, whereby a company provides its facilities to one of our final year students for a period of two weeks. The student’s purpose is to identify one problem and present a potential solution. He is expected to accomplish this goal with his ability to read the environment from the perspective of industrial design. The problems he may identify range from the creation of new products based on the installed manufacturing capacity and process improvements, to corporate identity and branding strategies. Then, the student has a 24 hour period to develop a design proposal that could solve the problem. The proposal is not intended to create a product or a tangible result in the short time, but to show the employer the designer's thinking and the impact of design thinking on areas that had not been considered; also leading him to discover the competencies of an industrial designer and how he might contribute to the improvement of the company. 70% of entrepreneurs who participated in the last workshop believe that the proposals have been innovative and can be implemented, 60% say they exceeded their expectations and 80% would hire a designer in his company for its innovation capability and fast response. So far the outcomes of this exercise, carried out seven times by now, has been excellent in articulating practitioners and permanent employees to companies that had no design in its structure before.

Keywords: Innovation, business, academia, design thinking, workshop


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