'Advantage Eco-design'-A partnership for promoting eco-design activities in small companies
Olof Hjelm, Linköping university, Sweden
This paper evaluates a project that promotes eco-design activities in small companies. Small companies have special needs when it comes to eco-design. Here I present a way of working that uses partnerships between small companies, authorities, consultants, and universities to promote such activities.

The project addresses two connected parts: training and network activities as well as individual product development at each company. At the start, the companies were given advice about environmental work, eco-design, and life-cycle thinking. Before starting the eco-design activities, the project actively tried to find the right resources (consultants) needed for each company. The product development activities greatly differed between companies, depending on the type of project and the ambitions of the companies. After some time, we had more network meetings that included training, exchange of experience during the individual project work, and site-visits at companies in the project. The project was finalised by an official exhibition where the companies displayed new products or product ideas developed in the project. With support from the project, four companies developed a new generation of an existing product and introduced it on the market, one developed new concepts to be used in further development, two made initial work and changes on existing products, and finally one company developed a design tool to be used in coming eco-design-activities. These examples are now used for marketing eco-design activities in the work with regional economic development.

This paper describes the network of actors, way of working, and outcomes of “Advantage Eco-design”. In addition, the paper discusses how good examples can be used in the regional economic development and the importance of creating good partnerships to build a platform for continuous eco-design activities in small companies.

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