Case Study

Cardiff Metropolitan University     Back to universities

Cardiff Met Lead Innovative Project to help SMEs

  • Cardiff Met leads project to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to innovate using design.
  • 200 European SMEs to benefit from increased growth and productivity

The University’s PDR centre leads an innovative, new transnational collaboration that enhances the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Atlantic Area region, covering the 36 Atlantic regions of France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The transnational project, named USER-FACTOR, was officially inaugurated on 20th and 21st March 2018 and is a collaboration between Cardiff Metropolitan University’s PDR (the Cardiff Met-based International Centre for Design and Research), Scottish Enterprise, Enterprise Ireland, Galician Agency of Innovation, SPI (Sociedale Portuguesa de Inovacao), the Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Brittany, Department of Finance, Northern Ireland, and Innovalia Association.

USER-FACTOR is a three-year project funded by the Interreg Atlantic Area Programme, aiming to strengthen innovation in SMEs by supporting them to use design as an early tool for user-driven innovation. This will lead to the most beneficial products all-round. Through a knowledge exchange process and using a service design method, the partners will develop a pilot programme to support SMEs to use design and involve users in concept development and prototype testing.

SME’s comprise 99% of the Welsh economy, providing economic growth and two-thirds of employment. Through USER-FACTOR PDR will positively impact SME survival, growth and productivity. Over three years, USER-FACTOR partners will develop, test and evaluate design support pilots with 200 SMEs.

Dr Anna Whicher, manager of the project, emphasises the project’s focus on long-term effects. She said: ‘By using design methods in our knowledge exchange process, we will build capacity within the innovation agencies so that they can offer design support beyond the funding period. Having design integrated more widely in business support, we can expect SMEs to become more profitable and grow faster thanks to development of products and services that are more desirable and sustainable.’