Shumka Centre / Design for Startups Toolkit | 2016


The Design for Startups Toolkit

A comprehensive open-source toolkit and web resource 


Design for Startups is a model for connecting designers with early stage companies. Initiated by Living Labs as a research project, we are now launching it as an open-source toolkit. The methodology of Design for Startups is to embed a design lab inside an accelerator in order to create the right conditions for integrating designers into early-stage company teams.

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Why Design?
Though it is increasingly clear that design is a key differentiator of success and innovation for business, emerging companies do not always consider design at the outset of their product development. It’s increasingly difficult for a company to differentiate themselves based on technology alone. Successful companies have have not only better technology, but their products must be usable, aesthetic, and human. Failing to address fundamental principles during product development relating to what a product does and how it does it, or who the product is for, can result in a product that is not able to function effectively, or one that fails to establish product-market fit.

Who is the Toolkit for?
This toolkit is available for wide-spread use by educational institutions, companies and a variety of organizations. The model is flexible and can be adapted to suit different contexts, disciplines, and industries.  Some possible use cases:

  • Art and design institutions who are looking for models and precedents for how to integrate emerging talent with accelerators or incubators
  • Comprehensive universities who aim to establish relationships between their students and external organizations, and who wish to build beyond the internship model
  • Accelerators or incubators who are looking to build artists and designers, or other skill sets such as developers, into their programmatic structure in order to support a systematic context of growth for the companies in their portfolios
  • Co-working spaces who would like to integrate talent from universities, schools or training organizations with their tenant companies and organizations
  • Any organization such as an association or fund who has a group of companies in their portfolio that could benefit from a specific kind of expertise that can be provided by another organization

Learn More

Design for Startups is led by Kate Armstrong, Director, Living Labs, and Haig Armen, Assistant Professor of Design + Dynamic Media at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. The Design for Startups Toolkit was written and edited by Kate Armstrong and Laura Kozak, and designed by Sarah Hay.

Funding for Design for Startups has been provided by the British Columbia Innovation Council (BCIC) and the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) along with 2013-2015 company partners Foodee, The Angler’s Atlas, Cognilab, SilkStart, Control, Discover Media House, Koho, Pressboard, Highline, Bitlit, Ethical Deal, Spark CRM, Print2Peer, Spacelist, Retsly, Farm at Hand, and Callings.

Our Partners