Design for Startups

Bridging the gap between technology and design for improved product development

Project Overview

Updated May 21, 2024

The Problem

Design expertise improves the form and function of products, platforms and services, making consumer items and software platforms more functional, aesthetic and human-centred.

Start-ups face a challenge in connecting to design talent, and are often missing the fundamental design pillar in their business strategy.

How We Are Solving It

Led by Emily Carr University of Art + Design and bringing together A&K Robotics and CoPilot AI, Design for Startups helps close the gap between the technology and design communities. This is a fundamental step in building new talent capacity paving the way for a brighter future for design-led technology companies in B.C.

Over a two-year period, Design for Startups connects designers from Emily Carr with a tech startup in intensive 12-week sessions. Together, the designer and company develop applied solutions to a product design problem. This hands-on project helps advance the careers of emerging designers and improves product offerings of about 40 startups in B.C.

The project is also boosting diversity in the sector. Currently, 31 per cent of web designers and developers in B.C. are women, compared to the national average of 48 per cent. Design for Startups leverages Emily Carr’s diversity, where more than 70 per cent of participants in entrepreneurship programs are women with design backgrounds.

The Result

Sitting at the intersection of work-integrated learning and technology leadership/SME success, Design for Startups was targeted at addressing the systemic, gendered disconnect between technology and design communities. The program design seeks to integrate designers into technology teams as fundamental to developing products that are usable, aesthetic, and human-centered. With 60% of interaction designers at Emily Carr University of Art + Design being female-identifying, this program provided a pathway for these designers to join the dynamic technology sector.

This project was able to successfully develop and deliver 38 design-driven technology projects, with 78% of designers placed during this program being female-identifying, and 16 designers hired into roles with their companies after program completion.

Project Lead

  • emilycarr@2x 1 e1632880303927

Project Partners

  • dts ak robotics logo e1632966402880
  • copilotlogo e1632966452370
  • bctechassociation e1632966493123
  • Innovate BC logo e1632966725365

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