Call for Companies: Design for Startups Fall 2024

We invite applications from companies interested in participating in Design for Startups Program in Fall 2024. The program will begin September 19, 2024 and will run for 12 weeks, program details can be found below.

Design for Startups is an initiative of Shumka Centre that brings the transformative power of design to SMEs by connecting them with designers to produce deliverables that will have impact on their businesses, products, services, and platforms. This program has been successfully implemented with 120+ companies to date.

Program Dates: September 19 – December 12, 2024
Expression of Interest form – Deadline: 5 PM on July 24, 2024

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


This program will help companies to

  • Improve the usability of products or platforms to improve customer engagement
  • Prototype new products such as mobile apps or user interfaces for hardware products
  • Align core products with the needs of target customers using design-led methods of user research and testing
  • Participate in a co-creative process of user research to transform a brand
  • Design and test an MVP for a mobile app, new feature, or user flow for an existing digital platform
  • Communicate information, data and metrics including data visualization

Results for companies involve improved products and processes, better market fit, improved marketing and communications materials, improved data visualization and analytics, innovative physical and digital prototypes and improvements to human-computer interactions.


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, service design, and/or communication design, interface and usability, user testing, branding, user research and profiling, ideation and selection, and prototyping.

Program Details

  • 10 companies will be accepted to the Fall 2024 Cohort
  • Cost for a company to participate is $2,520 (including GST), with NRC IRAP covering the balance of the total project cost
  • Each company will work with an NRC IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor, must be incorporated and must meet IRAP eligibility requirements
  • Each company will be matched with a designer
  • Interviewing, hiring and administration is taken care of by Emily Carr
  • Designers work onsite (or remotely) with your company for 12 hours a week for 12 weeks (September 19 – December 12, 2024)
  • Designers are supported by weekly 3-hour studio sessions with Emily Carr faculty to ensure successful deliverables
  • Companies are expected to provide the designer with access to relevant internal and external stakeholders, potentially including existing customers for purposes of user research and testing

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 participate, please fill this Expression of Interest form by 5PM on July 24, 2024. Interviews begin August 7, 2024.

    Please direct any questions to Dusanka Firaunovic at and Anja Haman at (NRC IRAP ITAs)

    This program is generously supported by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) from Fall 2024 through Spring 2026.