Design Project

The Design Project is a hands on digital product and service design project with strong industry participation. The aim of the Design Project course is new business discovery. The teams discover and develop new business ideas and opportunities within the theme's scope. The partners get 6-8 deeply researched service ideas with a given business domain.

The students form multidisciplinary teams of 4-6 persons. The teams go through the full design process from problem discovery to working interactive prototypes of the services. The focus of the course is on the overall process of user-centered digital service design. The Design Project is built around an annual, changing theme and the students work on services related to this theme.

The course lasts from mid January to end of May. The actual work follows agile design and development with 9 two-week sprints. Each sprint starts with a lecture and ends with a team pitch of the current status of the team activities. Theme owner companies are expected to participate on the feedback sessions. The course also has a strong mentoring component, each team will be mentored by a leading design company in Finland. The students will meet with the mentoring company at least once per sprint.

Contacts: Mika P Nieminen, mika.nieminen [at] aalto [dot] fi or Håkan Mitts hakan.mitts [at] aalto [dot] fi

Duration: 5 months, January-May

Size of the students group: 4-6 students

Application period for a sponsor: by November

Cases and roles – theme owners

One way to participate in the Design project course is to be the theme owner, the company defining the annual theme together with the course staff. The role of the partner is to set the theme for the course and support the bi-weekly pitching and mentoring session with 2-3 persons. Partners also help students with access to information, test users and business partners during the design and development work.


2016 theme was media services for young people aged 15-30 and the theme owner was YLE, the Finnish broadcasting company. This is how Petri Home, the contact person for Yle, saw the value of the Design Project while the project was still on-going:petri_home.png

"Hosting the main theme for the Aalto Design Project 2016 has been a good chance for us to explore new ideas with enthusiastic and skilled students. Connecting the Yle professionals and their know-how with fresh, diverse perspectives of student teams is inspiring and makes learning happen on multiple levels. I am confident that we'll see some very interesting idea concepts at the final pitching sessions."

Petri Home
Development Director
Yleisradio Oy


2015 theme was financial services for private persons and small groups of individuals and the theme owners were OP Bank, Basware and iZettle.

“In 2015 Service Design agency N2 Nolla was both as a team mentor and an overall coach in the course. For us not working within the academics, a look into the lotta_buss.jpglatest research and theory is always welcome. It is also inspiring to meet young and enthusiastic students - they help us “older and wiser” to stay open minded and alert. The international atmosphere at Aalto is a big plus. I think students appreciate input from agencies and companies, since we work daily with challenges they face during the course. Magic can happen when theory and practise meet.”

Lotta Buss
Service Designer
N2 Nolla Oy

Page content by: communications-cs [at] aalto [dot] fi (Department of Computer Science) | Last updated: 04.05.2016.