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Hanna Kosonen

Minister of Science and culture Kosonen: We have to integrate design into innovation politics

As a true fan of design, Finland’s Minister of Science and Culture, Hanna Kosonen, believes that the public sector can benefit from design thinking. Her ambitious target is to raise the share of design’s contribution to GDP. Kosonen will participate in BEDA’s and Ornamo’s international design policy conference, ’Successful Design – How can design serve?’ to be held on the 5th December in Central Library Oodi.In which way do you regard design as part of the creative fields here in Finland and Europe?
Design has an important role as its own field: it is thus important to support opportunities for designers and design companies. On the other hand, it is equally important to support the full use of design in other businesses: in industry and service sector companies, as well as in the public sector. Design has an important role in creating customer experiences, building brands and in making companies international. A successful design is an inseparable part of a well managed product and service. In my view, the design sector has the same kind of position around the world. The public sector for example, offers many unutilised opportunities in the use of design as a part of renewing governmental culture. Design in government can support the public sector to actualise its goals in a customer-friendly and cost-efficient manner.

What, for you, creates a societal significance of design these days?
Design is connected to solving diverse problems of people, society and business. The knowledge of design professionals and the use of design has expanded from a product-centered design to the design of immaterial objects such as service design and the design of processes. Design thinking is an important tool for companies to stand out. The impact of the use of design is seen as a better customer-experience and improved usability. Design increases the desirability of a product or a service. Investments in design can clearly enhance the competitiveness of a company.

The public sector can also use design knowledge to develop its functions. The usability digital services provided by public officers can be enhanced. Design thinking could be used by the public sector in pushing for big societal reforms and in addressing complex global challenges such as climate change. In this aspect of design, we still have much to learn and absorb.

What kind of policy should be practiced to advance these fields in your opinion in Finland and the EU?
Design sectors have to be clearly regarded as a part of the development of business and innovation policies. The financing of these sectors has to be guaranteed, and sufficient advisory services need to be available in addition to an understanding of the fact that design has to infiltrate all the sectors in order to guarantee success. Coordination has also to be added to the policy mix in order to make research and design education, companies and the public sector align their thinking and activity in the same direction.

The goal of the government in Finland is to increase workplaces in the creative industries, to raise the share of GDP and to improve the working conditions of employment. In order to reach this goal, we are preparing the founding of ’Creative Businesss Finland’ to support the growth of the creative industries. The further aim of the government programme is to enhance the expansion of the different sectors and their bold renewal in the face of future challenges. The Creative industries in Finland account for less than 4% of GDP, which is less than in other Nordic countries and less than average value across the EU (7%). The goal is to increase the share of creative industries of GDP to the level of analogous countries.

The importance of design has been recognised – yet it is utilised only a few companies. What could be the appropriate ways to increase the demand?
The demand of design thinking in companies can be enhanced by increasing awareness of the impact of design for business. When it comes to consumers, the demand for products and services is born through companies understanding the need to develop products and services that resonate closely with the consumers values and needs. For example, at this very moment, sustainable development is very much to the fore in people’s minds. Companies should respond to this demand. Designers have to courageously offer their own knowledge and expertise.

Hanna Kosonen
Minister of Science and Culture

Hanna Kosonen has served as a Member of Parliament since 2015 and as a Minister since 2019. Kosonen has a Master of Arts degree in Art History. She has worked in the creative sector as an expert and entrepreneur and is also a World Champion in Ski Orienteering.

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