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The impact of World Design Capital 2014

Tuesday, 23 June 2015   (0 Comments)
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For every R1 spent in the City of Cape Town’s R60 million World Design Capital budget, R2.46 was generated in direct and indirect investment. That was the headline statistic emerging from the City’s economic impact assessment of the World Design Capital year, released earlier this month. The figure translates to a direct impact on production of R59.2 million and R86.6 million indirectly. These impacts are described as increases in job creation, production, business sales, gross domestic product (GDP) and household income.

Other highlights from the economic impact assessment, conducted by Urban Econ, include

  • R1.11 in gross geographic product (GGP) was generated for every R1 spent, translating to a direct investment of R25.2 million into the provincial economy

  • 27 new projects that were started as a direct result of WDC2014 received total capital investments of R17.4 million and operational investments of R3.1 million. This translates directly to R51 million in production, and R22 million towards GGP

  • The collaboration between WDC2014 and crowd-funding platform Thundafund helped 37 projects to generate R1.2 million, translating to an indirect impact of R2.2 million on production and direct GGP impact of R1.4 million

  • The #cocreateSA initiative, established by the Dutch government, resulted in R10.5 million investment into the Mother City, translating to R19.6 million in production and R13.1 million in GGP

  • R245 million was generated in earned coverage in print and broadcast media

  • R1.6 billion was generated in earned coverage in online media

Co-creation and collaboration


The numbers tell one story. Other impacts cannot be quantified on a spreadsheet. The WDC2014 designation was a trigger for many projects to either start or accelerate their activities; for collaborations to be born; new networks to be developed; and for the public sector to adopt new ways of working. The City of Cape Town’s WDC2014 close out report highlights some of these, including:

  • The conversations about design became more deeply ingrained into every-day life, particularly through the City’s co-creation workshops, which brought together public servants, designers and community residents to use design thinking to address neighbourhood challenges
  • International and local collaborations were forged between the public and private sector, using design as a unifying focus, which have laid the groundwork for many legacy projects to continue into the future. These include, among others:
  1. the Dutch Government’s #cocreateSA initiative and African Centre for Cities

  2. the Nordic trade delegation and Stellenbosch Innovation District/Shift Stellenbosch

  3. a new association between Helsinki’s Aalto University and CPUT

  4. South African designers hosted by Design Discourse Austria-South Africa

  5. the American-based Maker Faire presence at Open Design 2015

  6. a new collaboration between FNB and Bicycle Empowerment Network

  7. the Groote Schuur Innovation Challenge, involving academia, provincial government, multinational corporates and designers

  8. Future Foreshore project collaboration between Transport for Cape Town and Univeristy of Cape Town
  • The year also opened a new way of thinking for Cape Town’s public sector officials, through the SAP and D-School design thinking training workshops

The last word…for now

As they reflected back on the year, the City of Cape Town’s internal WDC department also presented a series of recommendations to help maintain the momentum created from 2014. These recommendations could shape the future of design in the city in general and in the City administration in particular:

  • Build an innovation platform to make the City innovation-friendly, and to facilitate new ways of working with citizens in efforts to co-create the city’s future
  • Develop and adopt a clear strategy on design, to support the design and innovation ecosystems in strengthening ties with business, academia and communities
  • Adopt co-creation as a platform for citizen engagement, to optimise ward allocation budgets, develop citizen-centric services and build internal capacity
  • Adopt service design in social service structures, to help alleviate endemic problems and improve service for citizens accessing services in, for example, the health sector
  • Maintain the momentum of design thinking training to drive innovation and new outcomes into the public sector
  • Communicate the importance of creating value and honouring excellent throughout the City, with a focus on recognition and reward
It’s clear that the story of design in our city is not finished. We have just come to end of the first chapter.


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