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BIDA Withdraws from £4.9m 'Impacting Business by Design Initiative'

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BIDA (British Industrial Design Association) withdraws from £4.9m Impacting Business by Design initiative (IBbD), reaffirming the need for fair and effective support for design driven innovation.

IBbD is funded by a £4.9m grant from Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund (CCF) [1].  The scheme is led by DeMontfort University in partnership with Brunel and Nottingham Trent Universities.  It aims to ‘help businesses and entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life and help boost the UK economy’ [2] through a design led approach’.

BIDA had been named as a collaborating organisation in the original funding proposal together with EEF The Manufacturers’ Organisation and others.

The funding was announced in April 2018, but IBbD is yet to be fully launched.  During this period BIDA have been aiming to support the overall goals of the scheme, but regrettably, on 16 January the BIDA Board confirmed withdrawal of support due to unresolved concerns about the scheme.  These concerns are summarised as:

  • The scheme is recruiting design managers and designers to carry out work with SMEs rather than working in close collaboration with the Industrial Design industry to deliver high quality design impact.  This makes it clear that academic institutions will be funded to provide design services, which suggests displacement of commercial activity, contravening state-aid rules.

  • The scheme’s concept for economic sustainability is based on a licencing arrangement repaying the design investment based on future revenues.  This further undermines fair competition and based on experience from many support schemes for design and innovation, the BIDA Board is unconvinced of viability.

  • Through meetings and communications with IBbD it has not been clear how, as a scheme funded by Research England, any potential research outcomes, through links with research expertise within the partner universities, might be developed for the benefit of the scheme and wider imperatives for the UK economy.

BIDA is a strong supporter of collaboration between Universities, the design industry and organisations which can benefit from design input.  BIDA members have a considerable track record of working with Universities to commercialise research.  Member companies are strongly dependent on a pipeline of high-quality design graduates.  Universities benefit from collaboration from companies and individual designers working directly with courses and students.  BIDA regrets that this scheme is not being translated into the opportunity to create and develop new forms of collaboration. BIDA will redouble its efforts to promote its  principles of fair and effective collaboration for the benefit of all.