A complementary, not competitive, resource

There is ongoing debate around the perception that universities are increasingly encroaching on the work of professional design consultancies, with some taking a view that higher education institutions offer inferior design services to their commercial brethren.

The report on this topic released by British Design Innovation earlier in the year (News Analysis, DW 2 April) recommended that universities and the private sector should work closer to build closer working relationships.

At Bournemouth University we have long maintained that, in order to be of benefit to the industry, collaboration with design consultancies is a must.

On our commercialisation programme here at Bournemouth University, we work very closely with commercial consultancies as they get involved with the ongoing development in many of our students’ projects.

This is yielding fantastic results for all those involved, and has resulted in projects from a student’s ideas evolving into products approaching market readiness.
As a university, we benefit from the industry knowledge and experience that these consultancies bring from the ‘frontline’.

They can feed back to us what is needed from graduates in the industry, which, in turn, informs our teaching. The students benefit from work placements, experience and – on many occasions – offers of employment.

Obviously, I can only speak on behalf of Bournemouth University, but I would argue that our work actually increases the opportunities for design consultancies by stimulating the market.

The nature of these partnerships mean that we are a complement to – not a substitute for – commercial design work.

Geoff Bell, Innovation & commercialisation manager, The Centre for Research and Enterprise, Bournemouth University, Poole, Dorset BH12 5BB

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