Science and Innovation Strategy embraces design as key to growth


Design Council strongly welcomes the government’s Science & Innovation Strategy today, which has set out a clear 10-year vision. The Strategy recognises successful innovation requires design and contains renewed emphasis on the importance of places and cities for the UK’s science base.


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 the UK’s leading science facilities are supported by high-quality housing and infrastructure.

Today’s Strategy is a crucial step towards creating the right institutional, business and physical infrastructure for successful innovation. Design is a key driver of research commercialisation. Design Council’s latest research, due for publication in January 2015, evaluates the impact of design on the commercialisation on science and technology research. It provides clear evidence that design accelerates commercialisation and adds value during the critical early stages of development.

John Mathers, Design Council CEO, explains:

“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% 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 Design Council’s tailored support programme for research bodies, which is supported by BIS. Owlstone worked with Design Council in 2006 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 $15 million in investment.

Mathers continues:

“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.”

The government’s new 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”.

Design Council’s work with cities is acknowledged with the inclusion of its 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. Design Council will continue to build its programmes of support for research organisations and cities, strengthening the UK’s world-class science and innovation base.