Design for business success at Dundee Design Festival

13 May 2016

The power of design to transform Scotland’s companies, increasing productivity and global success, will be explored at a one-day event on Wednesday 25 May, as part of the inaugural Dundee Design Festival.

At the Design Revolution: Innovative Cities and Business forum, international speakers will discuss the value of design to the Scottish and UK economy, how design thinking can transform businesses for the future, and look at how UNESCO Cities of Design have used design to support business growth and innovation.

Recent Design Council research found that the design economy is worth £71.7 billion per year in gross value added, and that workers with a design element to their job were 41% more productive than the UK average.

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 on Wednesday 25 May, as part of the inaugural Dundee Design Festival which runs from Wednesday 25 to Saturday 28 May.

Andrew Cameron, Design-led Business Innovation Programme Manager at V&A Dundee, said: “Businesses which use design to develop new products and services are substantially more successful and sustainable than companies who don’t.

“Design Revolution is our first event in this area, bringing international experts to Dundee to explore how design-led businesses have succeeded in other UNESCO Cities of Design and the potential of design to drive economic growth in Scotland.”

V&A Dundee’s Design-led Business Innovation programme will include business events and workshops, bringing designers together with small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as creating a range of design resources online for any business or aspiring entrepreneur to use.

Andrew added: “It’s crucial that businesses work with key design principles such as engaging with your customers and continual innovation, prototyping and testing.

“V&A Dundee will work closely with companies across Scotland from all industries to give them the design skills to expand, boost profitability and create new jobs, in addition to the museum itself having a major economic impact.”

Design in Action is a £5m Art and Humanities Research Council-funded Knowledge Exchange Hub for the Creative Economy, led by Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design at the University of Dundee.

Michael Marra, Deputy Director of Design in Action, said: “Over the last four years Design in Action has worked with hundreds of Scottish businesses to help them innovate through design. We know there is significant demand in the Scottish economy for this work. We also know that it produces results.

“Our programme has created 105 jobs in the last three years and at a far lower cost than comparable interventions in the economy. Design Revolution is a great opportunity for businesses and policy makers to set this work in a global context of forward-looking cities making huge changes in how they work, make money and make better lives.”

Anna Day, Manager of UNESCO City of Design Dundee, said: "As the UK's first UNESCO City of Design, we're delighted to be hosting visitors from Graz, Helsinki, Shenzhen and Saint-Etienne who can share with Scottish businesses how they have used design to support economic growth.

"Design thinking can be applied to any company of any size, not just those traditionally seen as belonging to the creative industries. The future of Scotland's economy needs innovation and creativity to help businesses create new products and services, and to develop the national and international sales needed to create new jobs."

Other organisations speaking at the Design Revolution event include employee-owned Tayside textiles company Scott & Fyfe which transformed its entire business through the application of design thinking, and the internationally successful WL Gore, creator of GORE-TEX and a pioneer in organisational design.

For more information about the Dundee Design Festival, please visit