What's going on


External webpage up and running

The external webpage for Futures by Design, futuresbydesign.net, is now up and running. Here you can read all about the tools the project have developed so far and stakeholder and SMEs.

More information about Future by Design events

More information about Future by Design tools



Futures by Design on track, overcoming Covid19 issues

After our successful FBD pilot and the great progress made at the Cambridge Conference in March, we were just about ready to launch the Operations Phase of FBD.

Then came the virus and the lockdowns.

However, this did not stop FBD  - it just made us think of new ways to reengage our 300 SMEs and new ways to develop tools that were better adjusted to the immediate crisis. The new list of TOOLS exceeds the target number for the whole project and you can read about them in the TOOLS UPDATE item further down in this article.

One obvious measure has been to develop online capability to deliver the project and in some ways this is a help – one of the constraints for SMEs is finding time to engage with FBD, but the time needed can be reduced via the internet. 

We have also found that it is possible to ‘chunk’ FBD into 4 phases for SMEs and to work in groups for the first three stages:

  1. Registration and self-evaluation
  2. Tools demonstrations
  3. SME data project setup including targeted FBD results
  4. Project execution and evaluation of FBD results

The pattern will vary from Partner to Partner but the overall plan is for the project operation phase to work to the time plan:

Operations Phase Planner

The other major achievement of the summer has been the setup of the HSKT Central hub which provides all the tools and logs the progress of each SME through he project. This has been the great work of our Partner, the Jheronimus Academy of Data Sciences (JADS). See the HSKT page of the website for more details.



Tools update

The tools we have now developed for FBD are:

FBD Tools

Later in the summer we also developed:

FBD Tools 2



Bremen Conference

We are all excited now to attend the planned FBD Conference “in” Bremen. This event will be online and our agenda is:


14:00 Initial meeting: What do we need to achieve?

15:30 “Virtual Sightseeing” / Impressions of Osterholz + Bremen 

16:30 Close of formal session / Voluntary event online (?) 


09:30 Tools demonstrations and HSKT hub JADS 

11:00 Short break  

11:30 Operations: progress plans and monitoring 

13:00 Lunch break / virtual reviver

14:30 Exchange of Information Meeting including stakeholders 

16:00 Close of formal session


09:30 Making sure we can now operate and have a full plan and  identify tools still needed including purchase of data         

11:00 Formal close and review of conference  

11:30 Short break

12:00 Partners’ Meeting + Steering Group Meeting:   Cover all matters relating to regional meetings, dissemination, papers, results measures, outputs, reports schedule, comms

13:30 Close of conference

We are delighted that we will include the planned interregional exchange of information events where FBD partners and stakeholders from NW Germany and Holland will share ideas about FBD and how it can drive growth, productivity and innovation in SMEs.



External newsletter

The newsletter gives you an insight of the status and outcome of the project so far. Download the newsletter as a pdf below and get access to the full report Why you should care – what does it mean to be data-driven and how to get there, written by Ruud Sneep and Matthjis Bookelmann at JADS. The newsletter also contains videos and examples of collaborative datalabs with students and how to create a horizon-scanning knowledge hub. 

Download the newsletter as a pdf



End of the pilot phase: Project meeting in Cambridge

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At the end of the pilot phase, FBD project partners met in the English university town Cambridge in the first week of March in order to discuss current results, the progress made and further steps to take in the project. The meeting was hosted by Anglia Ruskin University that is responsible for project implementation in Eastern England (Cambridgeshire). The fruitful exchange within the project partnership was completed by contributions of local stakeholders who highlighted the need for the project.

In six project regions SMEs are supported to become able to analyse data, identify new solutions for business needs and implement future-proof, innovative processes. In addtion to workshops and consulting in each project region, a virtual Horizon-Scanning and Knowledge Transfer Hub is developed. This transnational online platform provides tools for SMEs with the help of which they can assess and increase their knowledge and capabilities with regards to data-based work.

In the next weeks the implementation phase of the project will start during which SMEs in all project regions get the opportunity to take first steps in using data analyses for their company and thereby prepare for the digital future. First results of this realisation phase will be discussed at the next partner meeting in Bremen / Osterholz-Scharmbeck in early September.



Concept Paper: HSKT Hubs

Read about the definition and role of HSKT hubs in the new concept paper written by the University of Groningen as FBD project partner.




Conference in Den Bosch

The Jheronimus Academy of Data Science (JADS) hosted our second beneficiaries’ conference from 28 to 31 October. We were with JADS during their major Data Week – an ideal chance to see how data can drive performance and to see how SMEs themselves benefit from this approach. In addition to our project meetings, we took the opportunity to develop a comprehensive HSKT concept, collate all work done by the project partners so far, design the best means to engage our target of 300 SMEs with the piloting that lies ahead.

The conference was a real success. With a full turn-out from all beneficiaries we were able to get to grips with the tools that are being developed by JADS specifically for the project that aim to help SMEs to improve performance through better use of data. In addition, we were able to meet with several SMEs who had their own success stories to share and these really helped build confidence in the FBD approach. The cornerstone of this approach is of course the Horizon-Scanning and Knowledge Transfer (HSKT) hubs. The concept for this is now in an advanced state with papers to be published at the end of this month. Progress with this vital thinking was shared at our conference and gave us all the chance to shape the final outcomes. All beneficiaries are now able to pilot the initial tools with small numbers of SMEs, with results to be shared at our next conference in Cambridge from 2 to 4 March 2020.



Kick-off meeting in Leeuwarden

On 11 and 12 March 2019 the kick-off meeting of Futures By Design took place in Leeuwarden. Representatives of all twelve project partners came together to get the project started and prepare the next steps to be taken. During the two days the project partners discussed various project-related issues and paved the way for the implementation of the defined work packages. On the second day, two members of the Joint Secretariat attended the meeting and provided information on the organisational aspects of an Interreg North Sea Region project. Besides, the meeting provided the opportunity to get to know each other better, additionally facilitating cooperation during the coming three years.