Research has found that 91% of businesses supported by Design Council between 2002 and 2014 were still trading after five years, compared to 49% who had no design support. The research, which was carried out in the UK, could easily be applied to firms operating in any world region who would benefit from design support.
The research independently conducted by the Enterprise Research Centre for Design Council found that over the long term, small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) supported by Design Council grew by around 40% over a ten-year period, more than double that of those who had no design support.
Businesses that received support from Design Council were enrolled onto its ‘Designing Demand’ programme which supported more than 5,000 businesses within this period. Businesses engaged in one of more of the following support programmes:
The ‘Innovate’ programme was a science and technology-driven start up programme, supporting ventures to use design to attract funding, reduce risk, develop their business model and get to market faster. These ventures were not yet generating income, but had investment funding at the time of our support.
The ‘Generate’ programme offered support to small and medium sized businesses with growth potential to make design a long-term part of the business by developing new skills, ranging from choosing and briefing designers to managing the design process. This programme attracted both manufacturing and service-based businesses at the smaller end of the SME market.
The ‘Immerse’ programme intended to help companies build bigger profits through the implementation of design-led strategies. Immerse was the most intensive service aimed at more mature businesses who were hungry for growth, had an appetite for new ideas and the willingness to invest in realising them. This programme attracted established manufacturing firms with a turnover greater than £15million.
Across all the programmes, design associates, worked with business leaders to build support, knowledge and confidence in using design methods. One of the model’s businesses were introduced to was the Double Diamond – the Design Council’s globally acknowledged innovation process, helping thousands of organisations confront challenges and find new solutions.
White Logistics, a Worcestershire based transport company has more than doubled its turnover from £4million to £10million following the Designing Demand programme and James Heal, a Halifax based manufacturer went from £7.5million to £13million after a decade of flat sales. Both companies attribute Design Council support to this turn around.
The research concludes that Design Council’s support played a key role in survival and growth of the businesses enrolled on its ‘Designing Demand’ programme. Even after accounting for wider government support programmes accessed by participating businesses, 85% of those supported by Design Council survived compared to 48% who were not supported.
Sarah Weir, Chief Executive, Design Council said: “We know that design can deliver impact but this research proves it. Now that the Industrial Strategy has been published we need to make sure design is at the core of business growth and not just an add on at the end of a process. The Industrial Strategy sets out bold ambitions to create an innovation economy, yet stops short of recognising the fundamental role design plays in generating success for UK industries.”
“I am delighted this research shines a glowing light on the positive impact of design. Even after a control group, it demonstrates a significant impact from Design Council support, not only on survival, but also on growth prospects”.