Design is one of UK's soft powers. There are world-leading centres of excellence providing high quality supply of design expertise and daring business people increasingly recognising the value of human-centred approach. To make the most of both design skill and entrepreneurial drive, Innovate UK launched a new four-year design strategy.

Innovate UK is the country’s innovation agency aiming for the UK to be among the very best places in the world for businesses to grow and maximise their positive economic, societal and environmental impacts. It emphasized the benefits of design methodologies that are key throughout the innovation journey to create outstanding customer experiences and generate more value for business in its first design strategy in 2015; and now aims to scale the impact and refine its approach to supporting and encouraging design investment.

Design in Innovation strategy works towards truly embedding human-centred design into innovation policy and practices. The strategy will focus on the businesses on the first steps of design ladder - making the case for design investment to those who don't yet use it in a meaningful way; but also it will help entrepreneurs who already took their first steps to move up the ladder and make design part of cultural DNA of organisations.

The design industry, business and academia were involved in the development of the strategy. Through this consultation process, main challenges in greater adoption of design were identified as: insufficient investment in design, difficulty accessing design talent, poor management of design processes, lack of strategic design leadership.

To address those challenges, Innovate UK proposes :

  • Making the case for  investment in design - through targeted awareness raising activities that are going to use compelling examples, practical content and understandable language; 
  • Reducing the cost of entry for those new to design - by providing various funding opportunities to stimulate investment in design;
  • Helping businesses access  the best design talent - working with design stakeholders, Innovate UK will support initiatives that help business navigate design landscape;
  • Helping businesses maximise  the value contribution of design - encouraging more and more startegic adoption of design in business through mentoring, capacity building and peer learning activities.

Design stakeholders welcomed the new strategy. Sarah Weir, Design Council CEO said: “Innovate UK's new design strategy seeks to encourage and support excellent design in innovation and has the facts and figures from Design Council's evidence-based research at its heart. Great innovation is the beating heart of the UK economy." Dr Anna Whicher, Head of Design Policy at PDR and Coordinator of Design4Innovation project, who was also involved in the strategy consultation emphasized the importance of the holistic integration of design support: "The UK design support landscape is complex and fragmented. It’s important to have dedicated design support programmes but also to have design integrated into mainstream innovation programmes."

See the full document here.