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Case Study Film: Design in Innovation

What is "design in innovation" and how can it be used to benefit UKplc and public, private, academic and third sector organisations and citizens? This short film presents case studies in healthcare, logistics and digital services, which demonstrate just some of the ways that using design in innovation can deliver increased impact and value.

Design is a powerful tool when used effectively throughout the entire life of an innovation project – from concept all the way through to commercialisation. It can lead to time and cost savings and better project outcomes; especially when embedded early in a project’s life cycle. The Technology Strategy Board views the early use of design in innovation as an opportunity to improve the desirability, usability and feasibility of technology enabled innovation across all sectors.

The UK is a world leader in creativity and design and this provides a huge opportunity for UKplc to exploit the use of design in early stage innovation to deliver improved social, economic and environmental impact.

The Creative Industries provide 5.3% of the UK’s GVA and employs 1.4M people in the UK - out of a working population circa 39 million. Of these 232,000, or around 16.5%, are employed in the design sector in the UK. The UK has a multi discipline design sector, from strategic design to brand design. According to a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills report, for every £1 invested in design provides an average return on investment of £25. The UK government has demonstrated its belief that design helps businesses succeed by investing €1.3m on design leadership support in 2012 – one of the greatest investments in a design support programme in Europe.

But design does not only provide financial ROI. It can also provides benefits across the innovation process, for example:

  • Design as a glue for collaboration: Design can be used as a fundamental facilitator for collaboration within the innovation process.
    Design simplifying complexity: ‘Design thinking’ can be used to break down complex concepts, processes and issues into core components, and to communicate them simply and clearly across stakeholders.
  • Design providing exposure to the ‘right’ problems: Working with designers to utilise their problem solving skills on broader challenges can help businesses and organisations identify genuine economic, social and environmental viable opportunities, rather than "solutions looking for a problem.”
  • Design rethinking strategy, logistics and processes: Using design early in strategy and business development can act as a disruptive process for innovation within organisations and across sectors.

However, design is often considered late in the innovation process, if at all, and many organisations fail to capitalise on the benefits it can provide. Whilst design is often associated with creating the look and feel of a product, many organisations are unaware that design can also be used strategically to, for example, develop systems, improve services, build in sustainability and create new approaches to collaboration for social, economic and environmental aims. 

The Technology Strategy Board has established the Design Special Interest Group to encourage and support the better and earlier use of design in UK technology innovation. It seeks to do this by bringing together the UK design and UK technology innovation communities to reveal new ways of creating increased value through the early use of design in innovation. The Design in Innovation short film has been produced to showcase ways in which design can be used to improve impact for organisations, businesses and citizens.


Using the “Design in Innovation” short film

You are welcome to share and use the “Design in Innovation” film for non-commercial purposes, such as education and information sharing, under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Licence.  Please attribute the Creative Industries Knowledge Transfer Network and the Design Special Interest Group.

Creative Commons License


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