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Funding for Design Strategy announced

Funding for Design Strategy announced

The coalition government has agreed to support all the initiatives recommended by the Design Taskforce with an allocation of $12.5 million over four years, Economic Development Minister, Jim Anderton, said today.

Speaking at the Young Designer Awards in Christchurch this evening, Jim Anderton said the apparel industry had shown New Zealand how the application of design could transform a sector from producing commodities to producing high value world leading goods.

"Labels like World and Nom D, design led companies like Fisher and Paykel and Formway show us how good design can be applied to all aspects of the economy. We want to see more of that," Mr Anderton said.

The investment will be used to implement the strategy set out in the Design Taskforce report, Success by Design, released in May this year. Key initiatives include the establishment of a design conference and resource directory, mentoring programmes as well as enhancements to design education. There will also be practical programmes to be delivered through New Zealand Trade and Enterprise including design audits and financial assistance for an initial design project.

The Design Taskforce, convened by Jim Anderton and chaired by Ray Labone of Designworks, consisted of thirteen leaders from the design industry including business leaders and academics. Rather than develop a strategy for growing the design industry itself, the taskforce identified design as a key input into innovation and helping to create sustainable competitive advantage for New Zealand firms.

It has set an objective summarised as 5 x 50 x 500 x 5: in the first 5 years, at least 50 existing businesses made internationally competitive through design leadership, generating an additional $500m per year in export earnings, growing at 5 times the targeted Gross Domestic Product growth rate to produce $1.5 billion by Year Ten.


The Design Strategy

The Design Taskforce identified a number of barriers to New Zealand businesses making full use of design. The barriers include:

design services are too costly for many small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs);

a general lack of understanding of the value of design; and

the need for improved infrastructure and capability within the design sector.

There are at present no government programmes directed specifically at addressing these barriers, or encouraging the greater use of design generally. The Design Strategy proposed by the Taskforce is directed at addressing these barriers and is comprised of nine recommendations. These have been divided into two categories: Inform initiatives and Enable initiatives. A subset of the Enable initiatives relates to education, and is described separately below.

The Design Taskforce Report “Success by Design” and supporting research is available at

Design Inform Initiatives

Inform initiatives are aimed at raising awareness among New Zealand firms and New Zealanders as a whole of the importance of design in creating value-added products.

The inform initiatives address the issue of low awareness and utilisation of design by New Zealand businesses and are aimed at increasing the appreciation among New Zealand firms and New Zealanders generally of the importance of design in creating valuable products – from conception through prototyping, manufacturing, packaging and advertising.

The inform initiatives are:

A communications programme to inform business decision-makers of the value generation potential of employing design leadership as a fundamental business strategy and process. It is also directed at putting New Zealand design on the world map.

A design conference to build momentum by bringing business leaders together to launch the Taskforce strategy, vision and initiatives, and create a design-enable ‘tipping point’. The conference is aimed at unlocking business potential through smart/intelligent use of design, and elevating design as part of corporate business strategy, as a critical tool to create sustainable competitive advantage.

A design resource directory to provide a listing of recognised professional, practising designers in all disciplines with associated service providers; including information and guidance to any business or organisation on working with professional designers.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise will be the primary provider of the inform initiatives.

The initial Design Conference is scheduled for May 2004.

The communication programme is planned to begin in March 2004.

The resource directory will be developed and published in May 2004.

Total Cost: $3.350 million (over four years).

Design Enable Initiatives

The enable initiatives are to provide targeted assistance to businesses to facilitate them becoming “design led”. The enable initiatives are focused on assisting businesses to build capability in the use of design thinking and processes. Currently, this aspect of business capability is not specifically addressed in government business capability programmes.

In particular, the enable initiatives are directed at addressing identified barriers to greater use of design by New Zealand businesses, namely, design services are seen as too costly for many small and medium businesses and general lack of understanding of the value of design.

The enable initiatives are:

A design audit/mentoring programme that aims to allow businesses to build on their understanding and awareness of the value of design and start to put practical steps in place to increase their design capability.

A programme (Design Project Number 1) to assist businesses to carry out their first design project and which aims to allow companies to access design expertise, experience design capability and understand how design can be of benefit to their business.

A design funding/financing programme that aims to reduce financial barriers so that more New Zealand businesses employ design strategically. A model for this programme will be scoped in year one of the Design Strategy.

Funding of an “international design cluster" to promote New Zealand’s international design reputation and enable design professionals to compete internationally.

NZTE will be the primary delivery agency for the enable initiatives.

Total Cost: $7.950 million (over four years)

Design Education Initiatives

The Design Taskforce identified a number of issues that relate to education. These included:

lack of appreciation of the design and design processes in current engineering and commerce programmes;

lack of business content in current design programmes;

A need to foster linkages between industry and design education, including "real life" experience for design students; and

building the design capability of established firms.

The education initiatives are directed at:

promoting enhanced design management components in commerce and engineering professional education;

advocating professional accreditation of tertiary design qualifications and promoting greater business content in design education;

implementing a programme of managed industry internships for newly educated designers and industry sponsored projects for design students and design researchers; and

overseeing the development of design management courses for senior management.

The Tertiary Education Commission, in consultation with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, will be developing these initiatives.

Total Cost: $1.2 million (over four years)

Design in Business Strategy Group

The Taskforce proposed that an advisory body – the Design in Business Strategy Group – be established with design and business representatives to champion the strategy with business and to provide oversight and strategic input into the implementation of the initiatives.

This body’s primary role will be to promote the strategy with business and to guide the implementation of the initiatives. It will be established for an initial period of two years, with provision to extend for a further two year term after a review in 2005. In the initial period this body will consider the need for a permanent body (such as a “Design Council”) and identify what functions this body might undertake.

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