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Research business design thinking innovation 2
Leading Organizational Transformation
Business Design & Innovation

Business Design & Innovation


In the Mercator project Flanders Inshape and Voka – Chamber of Commerce wanted to define and understand the influence of design-driven innovation on the success of prominent businesses to allow them to inform and sensibilize other companies.

Type project IWT VIS-project
Project partners Flanders Inshape and Voka – Chamber of Commerce
Duration April 01, 2014 - December 31, 2015

Hidden champions

A Voka study reveals that a number of Flemish companies are hidden champions in their market. What makes them so successful? How do they approach their business?
The Mercator project initially focused on prominent Flemish businesses that were in the global top three in their own sector or market, with a turnover of about 5 billion euro (85% of which are SMEs), such as hidden champions, lead plants, fast growers… and companies that are ambitious but just fall below the global world top.

Target group

The results of this study will be useful for companies in a variety of sectors (technological, textile, furniture, chemical and plastics industry) that want to develop extraordinary products, services, processes and/or business models, using design-driven innovation principles, methods and instruments. In addition to that, we also focus on service providers such as designers, product developers, … who want to gain more insight into design-driven innovation in those companies.

Design-driven innovation

The basis for this research project emerged from a number of known issues:

Many studies indicate that design-driven innovation is the driving force behind growth and radical innovations, but companies do not know what design-driven innovation is and how you should implement and manage design-driven innovation.
Flemish companies are not yet very familiar with design-driven approach, while many businesses have processes that based on design thinking or a design-driven approach. But these companies, often top businesses, do not manifest themselves as design-driven companies. As a consequence, we can offer only very few examples. That’s why we lack sufficient good examples around design-driven companies that Flemish businesses can compare against. This happens because companies do not know the full capacity and impact of design-driven innovation, because ‘design-driven innovation’ is defined in many different ways and because design is still too often put on a par with styling, creativity and creative sectors.
Researchers, service providers and the project partners would like to know how businesses implement the principles, methods and instruments of design-driven innovation in practice.