The UK economy is better by design says Innovate UK as it launches four-year design strategy

Photo shows: Mike Lawton, Founder and former CEO of Oxford Space Systems
Mike Lawton Oxford Space Systems

The UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, has published a strategy to encourage and support excellent design in innovation. The document, ‘Design in Innovation strategy, 2020-2024’, recognises that the UK is a world-leader in design excellence and there are great opportunities for business to realise more value by tapping into that capability and embedding design within their processes and culture.

Yet there are barriers to progress, it is not good enough for an idea to be technically feasible, it must also be desirable and fit-for-purpose. To address this, Innovate UK will launch a programme that will meet business need under four themes:

  • Making the case for investment in design
  • Reducing the cost of entry for those new to design
  • Helping businesses access the best design talent
  • Helping businesses maximise the value contribution of design

The programme will include grant funding opportunities which will be assessed against success criteria in order to deliver value. Innovate UK will work with industry partners and across government to fully embed design in innovation, to ensure the UK’s world-class designers maximise their contribution to sustainable economic growth.

In the foreword to the strategy, Dr Ian Campbell, Executive Chair, Innovate UK writes: “Over the last five years, our programmes of investment and support for design have produced impressive results. However, more can be done – despite the UK’s enormous strengths in design, there remains a significant opportunity for more businesses to exploit that potential: recognising, adopting and investing in the best quality design to innovate more effectively, compete successfully and grow faster.

“As this strategy demonstrates, for those businesses and organisations that truly embed design into their innovation processes and strategies, the potential benefits are considerable.

“Innovate UK is at the forefront of the government’s commitment to increase public and private investment in R&D activities. By ensuring that this is integrated with design, the likelihood of success will increase, boosting the return on our own investments and helping to bring wider, long-term outcomes for the whole country. In short, design creates value.”