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Design Council, AHRC and ESRC collaboration can 'shape design research of the future'

Date: 10/08/2012

The AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) and the Design Council today published a scoping study on the current state of research on the value and impact of design. The study is the first stage in a major collaboration between the two organisations to address the challenges being faced by the design research community which, while playing a key role in economic and social value creation, faces challenges in terms of measurement of the value of design, evidence-gathering and business and policy partnerships.

Commissioned jointly by the Design Council and the AHRC, the study was written by Madano Partnership who, it was also announced today, will undertake further research on the value and impact of design and, in particular, will explore the emerging field of service design. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) will also be partners in this second stage of the research. Service design is the branch of design that addresses the need to make services as usable, efficient and desirable as possible. With three-quarters of the UK economy service-related and only one in ten service businesses thinking that design can set them apart from their competitors, service design has been identified as one area in which there is considerable opportunity for engagement between the business and academic spheres.

Earlier this year, the AHRC and the Design Council began work to look at design research in UK universities, and its interactions with businesses and policymakers. A wide-ranging review of the landscape and the literature was undertaken, along with events and an online consultation process to engage as widely as possible with the UK design research community and with the audiences for their research – business, design industry, policymakers – all of which has fed into the scoping study. The aim was to identify future areas for research funding, and new and innovative ways of bringing research and industry together to work on that research.

Mat Hunter, Chief Design Officer at the Design Council, commented:

We're delighted to be teaming up with two of the UK's Research Councils (AHRC and ESRC) to scope out an area, service design, where we believe research can make a real difference. We have long argued that design can really add value, and we're confident that this research will highlight the benefits that engagement with design has for UK business and the resulting opportunities to thrive.

Dr Emma Wakelin, Associate Director at the AHRC, said:

It is well known that the UK design research community is among the best and most innovative in the world. What this collaboration can do is to help that community build the partnerships that will play a central role in our vital Creative Economy. We're delighted to being working with the Design Council on an initiative which we hope will help realise the enormous potential of our design research community.

For further information and to read the report, please go to: www.designcouncil.org.uk/ahrc

For further information, please contact:

Tim Crowley, Head of Communications, Design Council: 07748 906897 tim.crowley@designcouncil.org.uk

Danielle Moore-Chick, AHRC: 01793 416020 / d.moore-chick@ahrc.ac.uk

Notes to Editors

  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.
  • The Design Council is a charity which enables people to use design to transform communities, business and the environment for the better. Its work places design at the heart of creating value by stimulating innovation in business and public services, improving the built environment and tackling complex social issues. The Design Council inspires new design thinking, encourages public debate and informs government policy to improve everyday life and help meet tomorrow's challenges today.
  • The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. Its total budget for 2012/13 is £205 million. At any one time it support over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.
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