The method

Co-design is the process of involving multiple stakeholders in defining a problem. It can be used in the context of the design of products, services, or activities. It typically contributes to the identification of unexpected issues, collaboration opportunities, and impacts.

Co-design will support you in making your solutions more relevant, effective, and satisfying to the people who will use them. The process can be iterative and make use of various tools depending on the nature of the problem, the context, and the participants.

Stakeholders are not involved as research subjects or merely consulted, but rather act as designers throughout the collaboration.


Express module

The process of co-design is composed of three to five workshops of a duration of around three hours. It can be adapted to specific aspects of the topic at hand and its context.

The workshops can be held partially online and they are usually shaped to match the composition of the group or final product. The recruitment of participants is conducted by the client/partner.


Full module

A full co-design module is particularly suited for achieving a deeper understanding of priorities, needs, desired scenarios and ecosystem actors around a topic, service, or product. It typically represents the first step into the development of solutions through co-creation. It leads to the identification of common ground and convergent priorities and ideas that represent a key starting point to successfully address changes and challenges.

It is composed of an initial phase dedicated to understanding the problem and its context (which can be shortened or skipped in case the client has previously performed an assessment of the challenge and its ecosystem). This is followed by a series of facilitated workshops to explore views, challenges and ideas of each relevant stakeholder around the identified problem. These participatory workshops lead to the identification of common ground which allows to overcome tensions and encourages participants to join forces towards the development of shared solutions. Stakeholders are brought together in a final common session to plan the next steps.

The process

Learn more about our co-design process

Expected results

Policy recommendations, knowledge valorisation, value creation and impacts assessment of R&I.

Deep understanding of a challenge from multiple perspectives, idea generation, and agreement on a solution to be further explored.

Client benefits
  • Gain a deeper understanding of your clients and stakeholders’ needs and values.
  • Generate solutions that are more creative, effective, and are user-centred, leading to greater stakeholder satisfaction.
  • Obtain a more cost-effective use of resources (e.g. lower development costs and time).
  • Increase trust between your company/institution and your service/product users while improving relationships and promoting your brand.
Time investment

Express module: 60-120h

Full module: 300h

Case study 1: Defining a strategy for an obesity national plan

1. Identification of the challenge

Three-hour workshop (face-to-face) with participants in plenary and small groups. After introductory sessions, the focus is on creating a shared understanding of obesity issues in the national context.


2. Identification of opportunities

Three-hour workshop (face-to-face) working in plenary and small groups. Identification of the opportunities offered to advocate for a new national plan to fight obesity.


3. Ideation of sollutions

Three-hour workshop (face-to-face) working in plenary and small groups. Based on the results of the two previous workshops, definition of a shared strategy to build the national plan for obesity.

Case study 2: TRANSFORM - Innovation challenges in unsold food

1. Mapping and understanding the ecosystem

Internal work to identify and engage stakeholders, including desk research and literature review, as well as interviews with key players. 


2. Participatory workshops

Four half-day face-to-face participatory workshops involving different types of stakeholders separately. The objective was to gain in-depth understanding of their views, needs and challenges around unsold food. These workshops were carried out with end users, civil society organisations and public authorities.


3. Data analysis

Internal phase to understand each of the stakeholder groups’ views and emerging patterns. This phase is key to elicit convergence and divergence around the topic.


4. Multi-stakeholder participatory workshop

One-day face-to-face workshop with two main objectives: to reflect together around common challenges and think about possible solutions, and to co-design the next steps of the process.


5. Analysis of the process and recommendations

Internal phase with the client to analyse the process, evaluate the results and draft recommendations on the next steps.

More stakeholder engagement processes

Marzia Mazzonetto - Stickydot

Marzia Mazzonetto

Co-founder & CEO

“I really enjoy how diverse my work is. Open innovation is multi-stakeholder but also multicultural, international and multilingual, providing a whole set of challenges to rise to.”

With a background in social science and science journalism, Marzia’s main areas of expertise is developing methodologies that support multi-stakeholder engagement. She is passionate about sustainable and inclusive co-creation processes leading to social innovation and participatory policies.

Michael Creek - Stickydot

Michael Creek

Co-founder & Lead Facilitator

“When it comes to facilitation, what I love is finding ways to get people talking, making everyone’s voice heard and ensuring people commit to what happens next.”

Michael focuses on facilitation and stakeholder engagement within Stickydot activities. He develops, runs and trains people in participatory formats for dialogue. One particular focus of his work is within health policy, bringing together patients, practitioners, civil society, research and industry to reach consensus on policy issues.

Maria Zolotonosa - Stickydot

Maria Zolotonosa

Co-founder & Head of Projects

“What makes my job truly wonderful and stimulating is the community of people around me. Public engagement professionals are not only open and forward-thinking but also extremely dedicated to the cause.“

Maria oversees all activities and training programmes at Stickydot. Her main areas of expertise are co-creation and public engagement processes in the context of large European projects. She is passionate about informal science learning and STEAM projects.

Florence Gignac


“It is inspiring to contribute to a scientific research environment that remains anchored in the realities and interests of a variety of individuals. Collaborating with the public takes your scientific knowledge off the beaten track and challenges you to take a creative approach to your scientific practice. Go ahead: once you try participatory research, you won’t look back!”

At Stickydot, Florence provides support on citizen science and public engagement projects. Florence has been applying participatory approaches in the fields of environment and public health for over five years. She cares deeply about making every step of a scientific research project inclusive, creative and sustainable.