New head of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) stresses the importance of design research

Prof Sir Mark Walport observed the importance and inclusion of the Arts in the UK's new research funding organisation (the UKRI):

"The Industrial Revolution was driven by the steam engine. And I think that this industrial revolution is driven by "Steam" as well, by which I mean science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

"And if you think what it is that makes modern technology usable is the sort of design element. So if you put all that together, then the opportunity [exists] to strengthen what's already a very strong research and innovation mechanism in the UK. That means getting the synergies and making the whole greater than the sum of the parts." (Source: BBC News)

The DRS welcomes the recognition and inclusion of design in such statements but it demonstrates the importance of ensuring the awareness of the significance of contemporary design and design research with the media and policy makers.

The estimated £84.bn GVA contribution of the Creative Economies to the UK alone is not matched by the perception of its value by policy makers and political leaders ( Creative Industries Council).

The reporting of this by the media and other institutions and organisations also has a significant influence on public attitudes towards the position of design and innovation. Presented as  a footnote to science research in the BBC article above or as another call for 'better' mathematics education.

It seems there is still work to do in order to present design as a significant contributor to any society's knowledge and culture - not simply as an adjunct to engineering or as a reason for science.

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Use the Comments below to discuss whether the DRS should take a more active role in promoting design research at the policy level in the UK or any individual country.