Design Action Plan is a £585k funding research project from the Arts and Humanities Research Council led by Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University and PDR, Cardiff Metropolitan University in partnership with the Design Council.
The aim of the project is to develop an action plan optimising the strategic use of design in the public and private sectors in the UK to achieve the maximum societal and economic benefit possible by:
- Determining the characteristics, contribution and the degree of coherence of the strategic use of design in the UK
- Understanding the drivers and barriers to the strategic use of design through a needs analysis
- Generating evidence to underpin the development of an action plan for design
- Co-developing an action plan for design in the UK at both regional and national levels
- Validating the veracity of the action plan through consultation and dissemination
Research demonstrates that design has a huge role to play in driving innovation that results in societal and economic benefit (Design Council, 2015; Innovate UK, 2016).
This benefit is currently not being maximised in the UK as we do not have a consolidated, national action plan for design that both integrates the agendas of key stakeholders (e.g. Design Council, BIS, AHRC, NESTA, Innovate UK, KTN, etc.) and generates new insights which would then result in an evidence-based, high-level resource that compels the decision-makers to enhance and increase the strategic use of design as a driver of innovation.
An action plan is critical as it provides users of design with a heightened, high-level understanding of the routes to innovation that design can offer to organisations whilst also explaining how design can be operationalised to maximise societal (enhanced wellbeing, increased social cohesion, improved human experiences) and economic (innovative products, improved services, efficiency gains) benefit.
The integration of the what (demonstrating) and the how (implementing) sets this research apart from previous studies as it connects the strategic vision and provides a clear roadmap explaining how design can create a societal and economic benefit and as a result, how it enhances the UK’s competitiveness and sense of wellbeing.