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Science and Innovation Strategy embraces design as key to growth

Science and Innovation Strategy embraces design as key to growth

17 December 2014 Written by By John Mathers Chief Executive, Design Council, 2012-2016

Published today, the government's Science and Innovation Strategy sets out a clear ten year vision, recognising successful innovation requires design and placing renewed emphasis on the importance of cities to the UK’s science base.

We welcome the government’s new Strategy, which we see as a crucial step towards creating the right institutional, business and physical infrastructure for successful innovation.

The Strategy states: “The UK is world-renowned for its design capability – capability that is championed nationally by the Design Council as a means to create better places to live, better products to use and healthier living.”

The UK’s science and technology strength underpins our most important industrial sectors.  In order for the UK to compete in a global economy, we must continue to invest in the right innovation support mechanisms, including design.  To create the conditions for innovation and commercialisation it is also crucial that UK’s leading science facilities are supported by high-quality housing and infrastructure.

In order for the UK to compete in a global economy, we must continue to invest in the right innovation support mechanisms, including design.

Design is a key driver of research commercialisation. Our latest research, due for publication in January 2015, evaluates the impact of design on the commercialisation of science and technology research. It provides clear evidence that design accelerates commercialisation and adds value during the critical early stages of development.

One of our main objectives at Design Council is to help the UK’s great technological minds to commercialise and add value to their ideas. Our programme for research bodies helps find practical applications for research insights and accelerate the route from innovative idea to market proposition and we have now worked with 30 per cent of the UK’s Technology Transfer Offices. Design-led innovation has been proven to reduce risk, maximise value and attract investment – pillars of a successful economic model.

Spin out companies such as Owlstone Nanotech from Cambridge University have transformed how they commercialise ideas using our tailored support programme for research bodies, which is supported by BIS. Owlstone have worked with us for many years and is now expected to play a key role in the future of medical diagnostic tools with a micro gas sensor that has won the company $15m in investment.


Design is a powerful tool for research commercialisation. It provides structure and focus to the innovation journey by generating new insights for market applications, communicating these clearly to investors and helping teams plan routes to market. We are therefore very pleased to see commitments to strengthen the innovation ecosystem and comments on the importance of design which is an important player within the innovation landscape in the Strategy.

Design provides structure and focus to the innovation journey.

The Strategy also stresses the role of design in supporting cities to build on their assets and stimulate local innovation and growth, and contains a welcome recognition of the “power of place”.

Our work with cities is acknowledged with the inclusion of our Oxford City Council case study, which demonstrates how a proactive approach to planning can deliver the necessary housing and infrastructure to stimulate innovation and overall create more successful, prosperous places.

This pioneering system of support, combining local knowledge and world-class expertise, will allow UK cities to competently tackle the challenges they face and compete on a world stage.

We will continue to build our programmes of support for research organisations and cities, strengthening the UK’s world-class science and innovation base. 

Read the full Science and Innovation Strategy published today.

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