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The importance of measuring the economic value of design

The importance of measuring the economic value of design

5 August 2015 Written by By Annabella Coldrick Director, Policy & Research (2014 - 2015)

Why are we measuring the economic impact of design?

Design Council is currently celebrating its 70th anniversary and is at the forefront of championing the role and importance of design.  Research is a key aspect of assessing the value of design. We have identified the need to update, and expand upon, our UK design industry research dating from 2005, 2008 and 2010. This is because we want to express an up-to-date, robust and holistic account of the current value of design in the UK.

We have therefore commissioned economic research consultancy TBR, who worked on the Crafts Council Measuring the Craft Economy report, to measure the impact of design on the UK economy.

What will the research tell us about design in the UK?

The research will assess the contribution of design to the UK economy using a set of key measures, including gross value added, productivity, turnover, employment and exports of goods and services.  It will also include a summary of the impact of micro-businesses, the value of design across different industrial sectors, a regional breakdown of the design sector and design workforce demographics.

How was the impact of design previously measured?

The majority of past research looking at the direct economic value of design has been undertaken by Design Council, Creative & Cultural Skills or as part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) Creative Industries Economic Estimates.  Creative & Cultural Skills and DCMS have drawn upon data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) using Standard Industrial and Occupational Classification codes.  In the past, Design Council has followed broadly the same approach, but tended to accompany this with extensive primary research (largely in the form of a quantitative telephone survey).

What are we doing differently?

This time, we have selected a design definition and methodology that is practical, robust and replicable, aligning us much more closely with the DCMS approach.  The research will follow (as much as possible) the methodology used in the Creative Industries Economic Estimates and draw on the same data sources.

This approach will allow us to align the direct impact of design with government data and can be updated more regularly.  The use of ONS data also removes a previous reliance on primary research, which is more costly and limited in coverage.  Crucially, the approach also allows analysis of the design sector to be contextualised within the wider economy.

We are building on existing methods and have created a new definition of design that includes design in the built environment, crafts, IT and engineering. This definition was arrived at following consultation with Design Council’s Sounding Board and the research steering group committee, which includes representatives from:

  • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • Design and Art Direction (D&AD)
  • Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS)
  • Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
  • Design Wales
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Innovate UK
  • Intellectual Property Office (IPO)
  • Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN)
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council  (EPSRC)
  • University of the Arts London (UAL)

What’s coming up?

We will be sharing the findings of our research over the coming months via blog posts, prior to launching the report in October.

Download the paper for more detailed information on the approach.  

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