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International business success by design

International business success by design

The Government’s Design Taskforce today (May 27) unveiled a five-year strategy to help, through design leadership, at least 50 New Zealand export-focused businesses expand at five times the average national GDP growth rate.

The taskforce, consisting of representatives of leading design-led businesses and members of the design community, calculates its strategy will inject an additional $500 million into the economy by 2008 and $1.5 billion by 2013. Taskforce chairman, Ray Labone said the strategy targets businesses that are growth focused, want to succeed internationally and can most benefit from a greater design input.

“Rather than focus on the design industry itself, we have developed a strategy to improve the international competitiveness of New Zealand’s exporters.

“We recognise that design on its own is not a silver bullet. Adopting excellent design processes – becoming design enabled – will not itself guarantee export success.

“However, one thing is certain - in this competitive environment, ignoring or overlooking it will virtually guarantee failure.”

Speaking at the strategy’s launch at the Auckland factory of Fisher & Paykel – one of New Zealand’s design-led export success stories – Mr Labone, said New Zealand’s competitors, both at the national and company level, have recognised this.

“Let’s not spend to much playing catch up.”

He said New Zealand, as shown by Fisher & Paykel, had superb designers who could hold their own internationally.

Part of the taskforce exercise is to show businesses how design adds value.

“The design process starts right at the product research stage and designers, along with others such as market researchers, marketers, engineers, technologists and operational people, work together to ensure a desirable product hits the market.

“Design is not a tack-on at the end.”


The design strategy includes plans to: Implement a number of education initiatives including industry internships for design graduates and design courses for senior business managers; Develop design mentoring and audit programmes to build on businesses’ understanding and awareness of the value of design and put in place practical steps to increase their design capability; Develop a design resource directory to help businesses get access to suitably qualified and experienced designers and service industries; Establish a programme to reduce the financial barriers to allow more New Zealand businesses to employ design strategically; and Establish a Design Reference Group to work with businesses and help steer the strategy.

Mr Labone said the taskforce was asking for Government investment in the implementation of the strategy and seed funding for various programmes. “For this strategy to be successful,” Mr Labone said.

“It needs to be equally owned by the design and business communities. “We aim to create business capable designers and design capable businesses working together to generate value.”

The Design Taskforce was appointed by the Government in May 2003 to help give a private sector focus to the implementation of the Government’s Growth and Innovation Framework.

The framework identified design, as part of the creative industries, as a key sector in helping lift New Zealand’s economic growth rate by helping businesses commercialise their ideas. Design is a process that helps pull together creativity, technology, science and business to produce unique products and services that: Anticipate and satisfy customer needs Have distinct marketable points of difference Are efficient, consistent and cost effective.

Creative industries, such as design, also leverage off New Zealand’s unique culture and capabilities which international competitors can’t replicate.

Mr Labone said greater design capability of New Zealand businesses would allow them to make the most of their innovation.

The taskforce identified a number of barriers to raising New Zealand’s design capability. These include: In some cases the design community can’t meet the expectations and demands of businesses; Designers needing more business education; Businesses not putting enough value on the input of designers; and Businesses not recognising the level of design input needed to succeed internationally. Mtc/… For more information contact: Ray Labone – 025 418 649 Mike Booker, (Industry New Zealand) - 025 832 921

More information on the taskforce, and copies of the taskforce report, can be downloaded from the industry taskforces website – http://www.industrytaskforces.govt.nz

The Design Taskforce Chair Ray Labone, Designworks

Members Richard Cutfield, Pencarrow Private Equity

Mary Davy, Maxim Group

Neville Findlay, Zambesi

Professor Simon Fraser, Victoria University of Wellington

Peter Haythornthwaite, CreativeLab Limited

Michael James, UNITEC & the Designers Institute of NZ

Bina Klose, Shape Design

Jeremy Moon, Icebreaker Clothing

Professor John Raine, University of Canterbury

Henare Walmsley, Opus International Consultants

Rick Wells, Formway

Professor Leong Yap, Massey University

Taskforce convened by Hon Jim Anderton, Minister for Industry and Regional Development

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