Call for Companies: Design for Startups Fall 2021

We invite applications from companies interested in participating in Design for Startups Program in Fall 2021. The program will begin mid September 2021.

Design for Startups is an initiative of Shumka Centre to connect designers to companies. This program has been successfully implemented with 75+ companies to date.

Program Dates: September – December 2021
Application form – deadline: 5 PM on May 14, 2021

How it works

  • You tell us what problem you would like solved
  • We match you with a designer who has the skills in that area
  • Student designers join your company team and work closely with you and your stakeholders to find solutions
  • Student designers meet with other designers weekly in a lab setting, where they are supported by Emily Carr faculty to keep the projects on track
  • This is not an internship program. It is a design lab that happens in partnership with participating companies and Emily Carr

The Design Problem

The key is identifying an open-ended design problem so that the designer can work with you and your team to find solutions. To develop a good design problem, begin with an objective rather than your idea for the solution. For example, rather than saying “We need a newsletter”, you should say “We are aiming to increase engagement or conversion rates”. Good solutions often take a different form than companies might have expected.

Past examples of design outcomes include:

  • Leading a co-creative process of user research to transform a brand
  • Designing the creation tool from idea to wireframe for Cognilab
  • Designing a touch screen interface for a hardware product
  • Overhauling the form and function of email campaigns for Spacelist
  • Creating icons and data visualizations to represent user libraries for Shelfie
  • Designing a mobile app for Koho

What skills do our designers have?

These designers are usually completing their 3rd or 4th year of undergraduate studies or first year of graduate studies, with expertise in interaction design, industrial design, and/or communication design, interface and usability, user testing, branding, user research and profiling, ideation and selection, and prototyping. This project is best suited to technology companies that have found product-market fit, particularly SaaS.


Companies make a contribution of $2100 toward the project.

All interviewing, hiring and administration is taken care of by Emily Carr to make the process easy for companies. Designers work with your company for 13/hours a week for 12 weeks (September – December 2021).

What we need from you

  • Designers must be invited to your weekly team meeting
  • Best results happen when you engage your designer in your company team as much as possible
  • We require that designers be given freedom to develop and test ideas within the area of focus that has been set out for the 12 week period
  • You need to be available: designers will need to connect with key stakeholders at various points during the project

How to apply

To apply, please fill this form by 5PM on May 14, 2021.

This program is generously supported by Canada’s Digital Supercluster. Student Salaries for Design for Startups are funded by Innovate BC.