Four ways that government can make better use of design to increase R&D

Guide
04/11/2020

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We believe that government can go much further in recognising, promoting and testing to see how design can be used to increase investment in R&D. We’ve produced a summary paper that brings together our evidence and thinking, focused on the following four actions government could take:  

1/ Invest in design-led programmes for business that drive innovation 

For greater innovation and a more resilient UK economy, we need businesses to use design to maximise their performance. Our vision is for all SMEs to use design as a matter of course, as a fundamental business skill, so that they can be engines of economic as well as social and environmental good. We believe that there is a need for a new business support offer. We’re developing a new programme – Design for Good Business – where we’ll support businesses to generate profit as well as ensuring the health & wellbeing of their staff, consumers and the planet. 

2/ Explore the enablers and boundaries of how we consider R&D  

Design opens the door to R&D: for those who can’t jump quickly into becoming an R&D business or organisation (such as for SMEs), design kickstarts the process of innovation. We would encourage government to invest in research that enables better understanding of the ‘stepping stones to R&D’ that could be invested in – such as design. 

3/ Invest in design skills for current and future workforces  

Investing in the right skills throughout life, from primary schools through to adult and in work training, will deliver more widespread innovation through our society and economy. Our evidence shows the value of design skills, and government schemes that seek to retrain and provide new skills, should all focus on embedding these skills across the UK. This would support both the government’s levelling up agenda, as well as the push for greater inclusion and diversity within the objectives of the R&D Roadmap.  

4/ Take a design approach to implementing the R&D roadmap 

We welcome the frequent references in the R&D Roadmap to making the most of emerging insight, ‘test and learn’ opportunities and considering change at a systems level. Government need to think carefully about the infrastructure and skills it needs to put in place now to make the most of this opportunity, and we believe that there is an important role here for the use of design skills and approaches. 

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