Self-employed must be 'continuous designers'

Businesses have been told how creative design can help them achieve their company objectives and boost their annual performance.

Unveiled yesterday by the Design Council, a national programme hopes to convert entrepreneurs into “continuous users” of design, rather than just sporadic ones.

Of interest to freelance designers, consultancies and their clients, the programme will be rolled out to ventures in the South East and West, prior to future release across the UK.

At its heart, the scheme will provide mentoring and peer support for companies wishing to reap the benefits of innovative design, to the extent that 6,500 firms are expected to benefit.

Interested companies can sign up to any of four key aspects of the programme, which has taken the Council and Regional Development Agencies three years to construct.

Designing Demand Immerse will help small and mid-sized ventures embed design into their strategy, so it becomes part of the decision-making process for their company leaders

Its hailed as the most intensive of the four services, as design-business experts will tutor companies for up to 18 months through direct support.

Designing Demand Innovate is also based around peer group support, and is the second service on offer, but it is tailored to ventures specialising in the hi-tech industries.

Start-ups and established firms yet to make their first foray into design can choose Designing Demand Accelerate – which helps them discover their design personality and explore how it can benefit their business.

The fourth chapter of the programme is devoted to real newcomers, who want to embark on Designing Demand Workshops - a one day insight into how design can potentially boost their bottom line.

The programme to leverage the power of design stems for the Cox Review, which found that the intelligent use of creativity and design allows business of all sizes to access new, global markets, by increasing the personality of their products and services.

Commissioned by Gordon Brown, the chancellor, Sir George Cox concluded that the UK is missing a trick by not exploiting the full potential of applying design and creativity more widely, specifically in small to mid-sized firms.

“Companies that have design at the heart of their business are more innovative, more productive and have a sharper competitive edge,” said David Kester, chief executive of the Design Council, reflecting on the new programme.

Sir George Cox, former director of the Institute of Directors, and chairman of the Design Council, added: “One of the recommendations in my review for the Government last year was to accelerate the roll-out of the Designing Demand programme. It’s already been tried and tested by more than 600 companies – many of them first-time users of design - with some powerful results.

“Now up to 6,500 firms will be able to take full advantage of what design can do. But the intention is not to give them a one-off boost; it is to convert them to being continuous users of design.”

For more information about Designing Demand contact Saskia Sissons at the Design Council on 020 7420 5248 or or visit


11th October 2006

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