Design Foundations: Innovate UK grant funding programme

Design in Action, Scotland’s Knowledge Exchange Hub for the Creative Economy, and the UoD Centre for Entrepreneurship invites small and medium-sized enterprises, designers, design agencies, entrepreneurs and start-ups to an information session on Innovate UK‘s exciting new grant funding programme, Design Foundations. The free event takes place on Wednesday 30 November from 2pm and you can register for tickets by clicking here.

Design Foundations is a new £3m grant fund created to support early-stage design interventions that will help business to generates more successful product, service or business model propositions.

Grants will be awarded via three competitive funding rounds in 2017, the first of which will open in January.

Projects up to a maximum cost of £100k are eligible for funding and up to 70% of the total project costs can be allocated for the sub-contracting of design services. This means that design consultants can engage on funded projects in a traditional client/contractor model and receive 100% of their project fees.

Applications must be made by a registered UK business (the “client” of the design work) and intended sub-contractors should be named on the application. Funded projects can help address any of these common innovation challenges:

Tackling the right problems
• Better understand customer behaviour, motivations and experiences
• Quickly simulate and test new propositions with minimal investment

Keeping ahead of market drivers
• Identify future technological, social or environmental changes
• Explore new ways to create value, efficiency and resilience

Ensuring commercial viability
• Identify viable routes to market and new applications
• Communicate the benefits of a novel technology to investors and customers

Building business capability
• Unite teams and partners behind a clear, compelling vision
• Improve your innovation processes and design capability

Competition details

There will be 3 competitive funding rounds over 12 months, the first will open on 9 January 2017 with two further rounds in May 2017 and August 2017. Applications are invited from individual, UK registered businesses for projects of up to a maximum value of £100,000, allowing up to 70% of the total project costs to be used for sub-contracted design services.

Those interested in applying for one of the awards are encouraged to attend the information session, delivered by Innovate UK’s Design Innovation Lead, Ben Griffin, where they can learn more and ask questions about the scheme.

Why use early stage design in innovation?

Early-stage design encompasses the various activities undertaken to arrive at a range of good ideas, which may then be further developed and refined towards commercialisation. The ideas may relate to products (physical or digital), services or even business models.
Such activity is distinct from engineering design or styling which typically occurs later in a project and involves the refinement and final specification of a product or service.

Ideas with the greatest potential are founded on a thorough understanding of customer behavior and motivations. Adopting a human-centred, rather than a technology-led, approach at this early stage of the innovation process is important because, ultimately, people don’t buy technology – they buy what technology does for them. Technology can enable the supply of products and services, but design balances that supply with demand i.e. the needs and desires of customers.

Excellent, early stage design interventions improve innovation outcomes and business performance. Developments will have a lower risk of failure and are likely to generate greater revenue, higher profit margins and increased market share and exports compared to projects that don’t include early-stage design. Businesses that embrace a design-led culture are likely to be more efficient innovators, be more productive, have stronger brand equity and demonstrate greater resilience.

The Design Foundations programme is a great opportunity to develop your organisation’s design capability and lay the foundations for compelling, high-value innovations that will attract investors and customers.

The free Information Session takes place at 2pm on Wednesday 30 November in room 1G06 of Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee. Register for tickets here.