British Design Innovation works on ‘device’ to monetise design’s contribution to the bottom line

British Design Innovation is working on a piece of technology which will be capable of tracking the financial benefits of design thinking for client companies.

BDI chief executive Maxine Horn (pictured) describes it as ’a monitoring device that will detect where advice has led to significant savings or profit increases, and make sure designers are properly remunerated for the financial returns they effect’.

Horn says the technology could have broad implications for the industry, producing ’a new trading model for design by bringing in an extra revenue stream based on the economic value of design advice’.

This system is currently 80 per cent finished, and Horn emphasises that its completion is not a foregone conclusion. She says, ’I do not want to raise false hopes, because we are still at a very early stage, with budgetary and technological challenges ahead.’

She adds that the BDI has been working with a ’hand-picked party of six’ on the technology for the past six months.

Horn hopes that the system will convince companies to consult designers at the inception of new projects and to take designers on as non-executive directors. She adds that, ’The point is not only to recognise the value designers can bring to companies, but also to influence their remuneration on the basis of that.’

Horn cites Maddison managing director David Maddison’s intervention on a supermarket’s plans to use a university’s liquid-detection technology to create an alarm system to speed the clearing of spillages. ’After half an hour of looking at the project, Maddison pointed out that the system would be confused by water brought in on people’s feet and umbrellas. The project was abandoned, saving considerable money and time,’ says Horn.

Meanwhile, BDI has just launched an initiative to promote the design directors of its 600 members to potential clients, in an attempt to get experienced designers involved at earlier stages of the conception of new products and services.

’Companies which previously did not know where to find the right director, or realise that

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