Daria Golebiowska-Tataj is a Board Member at the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, Hungary, and a Member of the Global Agenda Council on Design Innovation.

Design innovation is not only about products or customer experiences. It can also relate to designing a new public institution or models of innovation processes. This is what we have done in Europe with the European Institute of Innovation and Technology – a new entrepreneurial institution.

The EIT, in turn, has been experimenting with designing a new model of growth driven by entrepreneurial, integrated, pan-European innovation networks, which we call Knowledge and Innovation Communities. Currently we have three of them: Climate KIC, EIT ICT Labs and KIC InnoEnergy.

These communities catalyse change in national innovation systems and develop a next generation of entrepreneurial Europeans. The challenge now is how to calibrate the model and scale it up so that the three existing communities are consolidated and six more are launched over the next years. The current proposal to allocate 3.2 billion euros for the EIT, if maintained, will be well invested to bring Europe faster beyond the crisis.

Let me try to explain how the three communities operate. They are network enterprises, with their co-location nodes becoming switching points in the global network of innovation networks. These public-private-partnerships are business-driven towards financial self-sustainability so that when public funding is withdrawn at certain point they will further expand having a sound customer value proposition and business model.

The communities are effectively managed by CEOs, follow business plans and are governed by a board. Ownership, accountability and personal risk-taking are positioned in the centre of their innovation-driven culture. I am quite excited that despite the crisis, our concept has attracted significant industry commitment, which is constantly growing, and also global talent – people who are passionate about creating their own opportunities.

I am also passionate about the EIT and its networked Knowledge and Innovation Communities. For four years now I have been leading the entrepreneurship agenda as the Member of the EIT Governing Board through a bumpy road of learning-by-doing. Coming from Poland, I witnessed how transition to a successful free-market economy is driven by a generation of entrepreneurial and creative people who start new companies and also new institutions and organizations of the civil society.

We should realize that there is no other way around. Today, we need to create opportunities for our own in Europe and elsewhere. In this context, design innovation and design thinking can be given a new meaning and function in our world of constant flux.

Image:  View of a Google self-driven car sees while navigating the road network in Las Vegas REUTERS/Handout