'This is a very big win for design,' says Design Council chief executive David Kester. 'Design is being set out as an important part of the innovation process for the first time. There is a long history of defining innovation by a narrow script of science and technology, so this is a big shift from Government.'
Minister for Innovation Ian Pearson believes that design is central to innovation and that innovation is key to improving public services. 'Building design into the services of local authorities and Government departments is going to be important for the future,' he tells Design Week. 'The contribution of design to innovation hasn't been emphasised enough until now, but user-led innovation always clearly demonstrated the importance of design in developing new products, processes and new ways of working.'
Innovation is changing, and government policy needs to be updated to reflect this says the UK government in a White Paper published this week, which promises to put public procurement at the centre of innovation policy for the first time.
The EU's lead market initiative has picked out electronic healthcare systems, protective textiles, sustainable buildings, recycling, bio-based products and renewable energy, as areas where Europe's spending power can drive innovation. It plans to help by improving legislation, applying public procurement and developing standards.
A frequent complaint about previous attempts to use public sector procurement to drive innovation, heard both in the UK and elsewhere, is that large, competent companies get all the spoils. The government hopes to address this in an innovation vouchers scheme that will support and fund small and medium-sized businesses to work with a university or research organisation of their choice, to develop a new product or service.
So while traditionally the UK's innovation policy has been concentrated on high-tech manufacturing, the White Paper now argues that increasingly innovation applies to a wider range of products, services, business processes, models, marketing and enabling technologies.
After 30 odd years in the global design industry opening doors to new and frontier markets through exploratory user research, concept design, and innovation strategies, Niti returned to academia as a student to pursue a PhD in Product Development at Aalto University's Design Factory. Her dissertation looks at the contribution of design methods to foster agency and capacity for innovation as a resilience strategy to shocks at the micro-level of the individual. Her research approach has expanded the multidisciplinary lens of viability, feasibility, and desirability to a transdisciplinary one where participants generate the actionable knowledge for their own innovation pathways.