This paper aims to examine how to support use of design in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by developing a new design support service. Design is emerging as one of the major themes of modern business development. However, most organisations – especially SMEs – view incorporating design as problematic.
This paper presents the service development process as a case study and contributes to the discussions on service development projects realised in the Living Lab context and enhancing the use of design among SMEs. The project had two basic assumptions as a starting point: using design is beneficial for SMEs’ business and business advisors are the best channel for reaching these SMEs. The basics of service design process and several tools such as the service design blueprint, the business model canvas and problem interviews were utilised to develop a service concept and to test it among target SMEs.
It is difficult to find SMEs that need design and are not yet served by the current regional or national service offerings. The findings demonstrate the importance of user involvement in the beginning of service design process.
Limited sample size may impact the generalisability of the results. Increasing the sample size of companies might provide new insights not yet discovered in this study.
Policymakers can benefit from the insights on design support service development when designing new services for SMEs. Co-design processes that are elemental to the Living Lab approach could also benefit the development of public business-to-business (B2B) services.
The authors would like to acknowledge the REDI project, which made this research possible. The project is co-funded by the European Union, under the European Design Innovation Initiative.
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