What one issue would you put at the top of Lord Mandelson’s agenda as he takes charge of the new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills?

There are many things that Lord Mandelson could do, but nothing would have more effect than promoting innovation and the intelligent use of design in the public sector. The problems faced by the public sector scream out for new thinking and solutions, particularly in areas like health. All too often, solutions are available and ideas are out there, but the culture and the process of public procurement stifles them. If we could change this we could do two things: tackle the problems that concern the public and stimulate the demand for more innovative suppliers of ideas, products and services.
Sir George Cox, Former chairman, Design Council

Top of the in-tray should be graduate unemployment. The state has invested heavily in the education of an entire generation who now face being thrown on the scrapheap. There should be schemes to expand postgraduate taught courses and support internships and other work experience. In the design sector, we face a draining away of new talent which could lead to skills shortages, as happened in previous recessions.
Jeremy Myerson, Director, Helen Hamlyn Centre

Create a university/design industry partnership to turn research results into user-led market applications. Don’t set up universities as the panacea of innovation. Acknowledge and commercially engage the most experienced directors of top strategic design firms as knowledge providers – they advise the world’s largest brand owners on product, service and brand development, and the knowledge they hold should not be underestimated.
Maxine J Horn, Chief executive, British Design Innovation

Mandelson’s vision to put science first comes too late – China and India are already there. Instead, the BIS should bet on design and creativity. To compete worldwide, it’s no longer enough to be good at what you do but rather, in the immortal words of Jerry Garcia (defunct leader of the defunct Grateful Dead), ‘You need to be the only one that does what you do.’ Britain’s skills in innovation and design are unique. Place them at the heart of the research curriculum and create a big novel prize to show them off.
Nicolas Mamier, Vice-president EMEA, Elmwood

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