Design for Startups

Design for Startups pairs emerging designers with early to mid stage startups to work on a specific design problem.

The program helps companies that would like to create, analyze or improve their digital products, services, or platforms.┬áStudents are hired as Research Assistants and are supervised by Shumka Centre faculty and advisors as they use design research to work directly with company teams and produce deliverables that will have impact on companies’ businesses, products, services, and platforms.

To date, the program has connected 120+ early-to-mid stage companies with designers.

Next Cohort: Fall 2024 (September – December)
Company Applications are Open Now – Deadline: 5PM on July 24
Student Designer Applications are Open in July

How it Works

  • Companies tell us a design problem they would like solved
  • We match companies with an Emily Carr designer who has the skills in that area
  • Student designers join the company team and work closely with companies and stakeholders for twelve weeks
  • Students also meet weekly with Emily Carr faculty and designers in a lab setting, where they are supported in keeping projects on track
  • This is not an internship program: it is a design lab that happens in partnership with participating companies and Emily Carr

Examples of Past Projects

  • Leading a co-creative process of user research and branding to transform Karmahire into Callings
  • Designing the creation tool from idea to wireframe for Cognilab
  • Overhauling the form and function of email campaigns for Spacelist
  • Creating icons and data visualizations to represent user libraries for BitLit
  • Designing a mobile app for Koho

Interested in using the Design for Startups model?

Our toolkit maps out the framework for Design for Startups model, which is adaptable to suit different contexts, disciplines, and industries – you can read about its use cases and access the toolkit here.

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

Program News