The Minister for Business and Employment has asked Enterprise Ireland to evaluate which of their programmes could be specifically aimed at supporting design. Launching a new report, “Design-Driven Innovation: Why it matters for SME competitiveness”, [pdf, 8.22MB] Minister Ged Nash TD described design as the poor relation of Government supports to business.

The new report, compiled by the Northern and Western Regional Assembly and funded by the European Commission, shows how design impacts positively on individual businesses and it shows what kinds of Government measures, in Ireland and internationally, work in support of design.

According to the report, in Ireland there is evidence to illustrate a lack of understanding of design driven innovation at both Government and SME level which has led to an under-utilisation of design processes in business support programmes and by SMEs in their day to day business.

Minister Nash said, “With 2015 designated as the year of Irish Design, we are beginning the journey to address the issues highlighted in this report. Funded by my department, ID2015 aims to promote better understanding of design and Ireland’s design capability, to bring the education and design sectors closer to the small business sector in Ireland and to increase the appreciation and demand for design capability among Irish business.”

“For too long, design has been the poor relation of Government supports to business and we need to recognise, as this report demonstrates, that investment in design improves a business’s bottom line which in turn can create more jobs.”

“I have asked Enterprise Ireland to evaluate the current programmes that are available to SMEs in support of design and to look at whether more specific and targeted measures might be introduced in support of enterprise policy.”

The Minister has asked that Enterprise Ireland report back to him by the end of the summer.

Some of the key findings of the report include:

  • The design process is now widely recognised as a tool of innovation.
  • Investment in design-driven innovation processes by governments and firms across Europe and the world is yielding increased growth, employment and competitiveness for SMEs.
  • An opportunity exists in Ireland to change mind-sets about what it means to apply design-thinking principles to business development and innovation.
  • Lessons from other countries indicate that supports to Irish SMEs could be enhanced by the addition of design-driven support programmes.
  • Some SMEs in Ireland are successfully applying the design-driven approach to grow, export and evolve.
  • Hidden design is a key factor when considering policy and supports.