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International design research

International design research

13 April 2009

The International Design Scoreboard reports on findings from a two year project to compare design capabilities across nations.

East Asian nations which have traditionally competed on price and low labour rates are now increasingly competing through design as well, according to the International Design Scoreboard. The research, led by the University of Cambridge and supported by the Design Council, marks the first ever attempt to compare national design capabilities.

A total of 12 countries are assessed on a series of indicators, including numbers of design graduates, and the strength of the design consultancy sector. The results suggest that western nations are under increasing threat from emerging east Asian ‘powerhouses’ as they develop their design sectors, invest in national design promotion and produce skilled design graduates.

The report acknowledges that data is currently sparse and difficult to compare, meaning that any international comparison needs to be treated with care. In particular, no data was available for how much firms spend on design. To begin tackling this, the project team also worked with the Design Council on an exploratory survey of design spend in UK firms.

The report lays out a proposal for future work which will build on these findings, adding more countries and improving the robustness of the rankings.

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