Creating Sustainable Innovation through Design for Behaviour Change

About the project

The proposed project has resulted in the first holistic overview of design for behaviour change as a driver for sustainable innovation. This will provide a basis for developing successful strategies for the effective implementation of sustainable innovation through design for behaviour change by public and private service providers with focus on SMEs.

Design is a significant driver for sustainable innovation, because it is able to realise new insights and perspectives that are people-centred as well as manage uncertainty due to its catalytic multi-disciplinary nature. Recognised for some time, design for behaviour change is as yet lacking an overarching and coherent framework to include ecological, economic and social perspectives and approaches. The best-known area of design for behaviour change currently is sustainable design, followed by design for health and well-being, safety design, and social design. While research has shown significant opportunities, realisation in professional and public contexts is only emerging.

The project brings together a significant inter-disciplinary and multi-institutional network of key national and international academic partners and non-academic stakeholders with an interest in sustainable innovation through design for behaviour change. It will thus bring together two sets of stakeholders: key proponents of design for behaviour change from academic research, and relevant public and private service providers with an interest in facilitating behaviour change through design. This will allow the project uniquely to explore current key approaches to design for behaviour change in a wide range of applications, including safety design, design for health and well-being, and social design.


The investigation has focused on two main areas:

The review of current key models and approaches of design for behaviour change, comprising Design for Sustainable Behaviour Change, Persuasive Technology, Design with Intent, Mindful Design, Socially Responsible Design, Designing out Crime and Design against Crime, amongst others. Including proponents of several of these theories, the network offers the unique opportunity to provide an overarching review that is able to draw out commonalities and differences between the various approaches and practices in the different areas of design for behaviour change. This review forms the basis for establishing a holistic framework that can accommodate and provide strategic co-ordination of the current fragmented approaches.

The project has investigated current understandings, needs and gaps concerning sustainable innovation by public and private service providers, and how to address them more effectively through the use of design for behaviour change. For this purpose, relevant non-academic stakeholders have been engaged, firstly through a broad online survey to elicit current knowledge and concerns. Secondly, relevant interested non-academic stakeholders were identified through the survey and invited to participate in a number of targeted focus group discussions.

The aim was to elicit key data concerning understanding, challenges and opportunities of adopting and implementing design for behaviour change strategies.

With links into the most important Design Research Networks and Design Business Partnerships, the network partners have explored the needs and opportunities for using design research to facilitate innovation businesses, focusing on how public and private service providers, particularly SMEs, can benefit from this research.

The project has produce a range of strategic outputs including this web-resource, a comprehensive state-of-the-art review of the field drawing on both academic and non-academic stakeholder views and approaches, and an international network on design for behaviour change, using a results workshop and social media to engage and communicate the project results to a broad range of audiences.