‘Design plays a big role in Scotland’s economy’

Increasing the use of design principles in business, government, healthcare and cities could help boost Scotland’s flagging economy, according to a report.

New analysis published ahead of the of the Design Revolution: Innovative Cities and Business forum in Dundee on 25 May reveals that design-intensive workers in Scotland outperformed the average UK worker, but still lagged behind the UK average for the design economy.

Design economy workers in Scotland produce £43,100 of output, compared with £33,600 for the overall UK economy. However, the UK average for design economy workers is £47,400.

Since 2010, the number of design-intensive businesses in Scotland increased by 40%, substantially above the rate for UK businesses of 5.7%, but still behind the UK level of design business growth at 51% over the same time period.

The analysis was prepared by Stephen Miller, the Design Council’s research and evaluation manager, for next week’s Design Revolution forum, where international speakers will discuss the value of design to the Scottish economy and how design thinking can transform businesses for the future.

“Design plays a big role in the history and economy of Scotland, and Scotland plays a big role in the UK’s design economy,” said Miller. “Our research is the first to consider the contribution and value of design across the whole UK economy, rather than as a single industry, and shows design is worth £4.8bn to the Scottish economy.

“However, as the Scottish and UK Governments look to boost productivity and rebalance the economy, this research also suggests there is a major role for supporting the increased use of design across the country and across certain sectors. Not just so that everyone can share in the design-led economic growth, but also so everyone can benefit from design-led, better public services.”

Design Revolution features speakers from the Design Council, the School of Design Thinking at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, and the global UNESCO Cities of Design Graz in Austria, Helsinki in Finland, Shenzhen in China and Saint-Etienne in France.

The event has been organised by V&A Museum of Design Dundee, Design in Action and UNESCO City of Design Dundee as part of the inaugural Dundee Design Festival, which runs from Wednesday 25 to Saturday 28 May.

Andrew Cameron, the design-led business Innovation programme manager at V&A Dundee, said: “Scotland is a nation of inventors and innovators, but in recent years its economy has struggled with lower levels of innovation compared to the rest of the UK and Europe.

“The Design Revolution event will draw on the experience of internationally successful companies and global UNESCO Cities of Design, drawing out practical approaches that can be applied immediately to any business looking to improve its performance and profitability.”

He added: “These challenges are a key reason why V&A Dundee is developing a programme of work specifically for businesses, looking at how using design strategically can transform any organisation.

“We’re particularly interested in working with small and medium-sized enterprises that make up the vast majority of Scottish companies, making available to them the design techniques and tools used by the most enterprising and successful international businesses.”