Improving business by design. Commissioned by Leicestershire economic partnership (LSEP) to investigate where industrial design can contribute to increased competitiveness in manufacturing for SME’s in the Leicester sub-region
Improving Business by Design (IBD) has proven to be a highly significant sub-regional project with funding from the LeicesterShire Economic Partnership, HEIF2 and HEIF3 and the private sector (SME’s) totalling £850,000. The unique and original aspect of IBD was the pivotal role played by the research situated in an HE - its credibility as a capable design institution proved invaluable in identifying appropriate projects and effectively brokering the relationships between SME’s and consultancies. An initial feasibility study was undertaken, the researchers visited 180 SME’s, recording and analysing company capabilities and identifying potential projects, and assessed the capabilities of 11 Leicester based design consultancies. Utilising funding from LSEP and from HEIF2 and HEIF3 I defined project specifications and was able to make appropriate pairings of SME with a consultancy. Projects have been supported by close monitoring and the provision of additional design input. To date 16 projects have been funded, 5 products are already in manufacture with a further 6 to follow by the mid 2008. 18 jobs have been created/safeguarded so far with the possibility of an additional 7 to 10 in the near future. These 13 projects are set to contribute over £ 1.3 million per year to the region’s economy over the next few years. This success prompted Lord Sainsbury of Turville to cite Improving Business by Design (IBD) as an exemplar of good practice, (a university working effectively with SME’s) in his speech to the DTI in December 2005. The East Midlands Development Agency is currently looking to fund a regional version of Improving Business by Design using this sub-regional scheme as a model. There is a distinct possibility that the IBD model could have international benefit. In addition IBD has been nominated for a 2007 Times Higher award (Category ‘Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology’).
Research Group : Design and New Product Development
- School of Design