An online survey conducted by esprimi.eu amongst employers and entrepreneurs in Malta revealed that innovation, technology and competitive advantage are the three words mostly associated with Design. The results were presented by Business Leaders Malta CEO, Mr Morgan Parnis, at the ‘Innovation through Design’ conference held at the Palace hotel, Sliema on the 6th of November. The research findings provided the audience with a better understanding of the type of design-related activities that carried out by local business as well as areas which could be improved.
Upon recently being appointed as the Ambassador for the European Commission’s Design for Europe programme in Malta, the Malta Business Bureau in collaboration with the Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business and the Enterprise Europe Network, has successfully kicked off its first design initiative with the participation of 140 individuals from both the private and public sector. The aim of the event was to promote various methods of tapping innovative design concepts, encourage start-ups, SMEs and members of the public sector to add value to their products and services as well as to increase the reach of the Design for Europe programme in Malta.
As a result of the conference participant’s cooperation to complete the survey, statistics proved that companies employing 5-9 employees associated design to “Competitive Advantage” in the same extent as they did with “Innovation”. Companies employing 10-250 employees associated design primarily with “Innovation” followed by “Development of Client Oriented Goods and Services”.
86% of the companies participating in the survey confirmed that in-house experts are commissioned for the most significant development of a new or improved product or service. Companies producing goods, are more likely to sell their products outside of Europe than those providing a service, whereas most companies doing businesses within Europe and beyond are mainly foreign-owned. The study also suggests that a significant portion of businesses that are purely Maltese-owned tend to provide their goods and services abroad.
Additionally, Companies that service clients overseas, employing between 10 and 49 employees, as well as companies that have been in operation for between 10 and 19 years, were the only segments that claimed that their highest proportion of turnover came from Malta. All other segments indicated that the highest source of income was generated outside of Malta. The majority of companies claiming a higher income from outside of Malta were owned by foreigners.
MBB President Mario Spiteri delivered the opening address, welcoming all participants and speakers on board and introduced the rationale behind the design initiative expressing his hopes for the conference to inspire participants to integrate design even further in their business models, strategies and services. Mr Spiteri commented that, “although it is often underestimated, design can bring significant benefits and solutions to businesses; most importantly it opens up the doors for valuable opportunities.”
The event was moderated by MBB CEO Joe Tanti, who welcomed keynote speaker Dr Kamil Michlewski, brand strategy consultant at the Value Engineers, London. Dr Michlewski presented best practice case studies including that of the Danish Design Ladder which uses design as a strategy coupled with the benefits of the design approach to business and government organisations. In his presentation, Dr Michlewski highlighted the importance of deeper integration of design and designers. This tied in with his recent book, published earlier this year – Design Attitude.
A vibrant panel debate moderated by Times of Malta Assistant Editor, Vanessa Macdonald comprised of speakers from diverse, professional backgrounds. The panellists, including Dr Michlewski, Architect David Xuereb, CEO QP Management, Mr Richard Mifsud, Senior Manager JP Advertising and Professor Tanya Sammut-Bonnici, Head of the Marketing Department at the University of Malta discussed Design Council success stories and focused on the areas of business and enterprise, public sector innovation and design and policy.
Following the panel debate, Mr Caldon Mercieca, Project Leader of the Valletta Design Cluster, demonstrated the various Design Cluster initiatives underway to support local private sectors that use design in order to help them to internationalise. Mr Caldon also presented support measure in the making such as mentorship and consultancy that would be provided through a programme which will involve international industry experts and specialists.
In her concluding address, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, Nancy Caruana reiterated the Ministry’s support for the MBB’s initiative and the importance of design for economic growth. Ms Caruana remarked, “Businesses can only thrive by being leaders in the market. Being leaders in the market implies change, not for the sake of change, but for delivering a better product, a better service, to the consumer, a product or a service which is unique in the marketplace”.
The closing speech was followed by a networking lunch, offering all participants the opportunity to discuss the morning’s thought provoking ideas, forge business relations and raise their questions further with Dr Michlewski, guest speakers and the panellists.
Design for Europe is the public name of the EC’s European Design Innovation Platform (EDIP). Through this project, MBB CEO Joe Tanti will join a number of Design for Europe Ambassadors who are being appointed in each of the 28 EU Member States.
For more information on the MBB’s Innovation through Design initiative, kindly contact Ms Ana Vella. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call on +356 21251719.