In 2009, respondents to the European Commission's public consultation on 'design as a driver of user-centred innovation' were asked about the most serious barriers to the better use of design in Europe. The most significant obstacle was considered the 'lack of awareness and understanding of the potential of design among policy-makers' (78%). The second most important barrier was considered the 'lack of knowledge and tools to evaluate the rate of return on design investment' (64%).With regards to the first barrier, design is increasingly being recognised as a tool for innovation across policy levels in Europe, and in October 2010, the European Commission included design as a priority in its new 'Innovation Union' strategy.
As design climbs the policy agenda, the importance of addressing the second barrier of evaluating the return on design is more relevant than ever. Evaluation is a vital part of the evidence to support decision-making and in the context of government cuts needs to be able to stand up to rigorous scrutiny.