Design Flanders


Within the context of Flanders’ innovation strategy, the economic development agency felt that more could be done to support the growth of the Flanders Design Sector. Leadership development was identified as a key area for further support to foster growth.


Design Flanders invited Design Connect to develop ASPIRE, a bespoke leadership programme for local design consultancies. The goal was to increase their ability to do business overseas. Deepening their capacity as leaders of their businesses within the context of exporting their services overseas was seen as a critical opportunity to raise the level of engagement of Flanders’ design sector in international markets and, as a consequence, to positively support the growth of their businesses.


Working in close partnership with Ingrid Vandenhoudt and Helga Williams of Design Flanders and Emma Collins of Collins & Co (based in Bristol), this bespoke programme of leadership development delivered significant benefits to the Directors and owners of the participating design consultancies, ranging from product design to architecture and from graphics and branding to furniture design.

Design Connect shaped the learning journey, delivered the uniquely tailored content (including international speakers from India, China, Finland and the UK) and facilitated the overall process over a period of some eight months. The success of the initial programme was confirmed with strategic organisational changes being made, new partnerships formed and international business opportunities pursued. Further funding was made available by the Ministry for the creation and delivery of an additional two one-day sessions.