Hub to develop South East design community

A scheme to support and facilitate fledgling and established design groups is being set up in Buckinghamshire, under the name The Design Hub.

The initiative is being launched by former Design Council director Philip Johnson, who is leaving his position this month as head of marketing at the Patent Office to put the idea of the Hub into practice. Johnson has been working at the Patent Office for three-and-a-half years.

Previously manager for the Design Council’s Millennium Product initiative, he will take the title of director of The Design Hub, and he is founding the scheme in conjunction with the South East of England Development Agency and Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College.

The Hub will initially be based in High Wycombe, where the University College is sited, but despite being a regional scheme, Johnson intends the project to be a ‘beacon for design excellence in the UK’ as a whole.

The wheels will go into motion for The Hub on 17 May, when Johnson officially takes up his position at the helm. However, it is likely to be some time before he will be able to announce its formal launch – he explains he is ‘starting with a blank sheet’ and that means first principles need to be established beforehand.

‘The objective of The Design Hub is to provide a complete range of opportunities for design consultancies and associated businesses,’ Johnson explains. He says that from an operational perspective both the regional development agency and the college will have a stake in things.

‘The Hub will bring together Seeda, the college and local businesses both from an establishment and from a financing perspective,’ says Johnson.

‘It will be a resource for start-up design groups – of which Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College has many – as well as for existing design consultancies in the surrounding region, and it will nurture the relationships between the various partner companies,’ he explains.

Johnson says ‘a key part of the Hub’s role will be as an incubator for start-up design consultancies’.

The organisation will provide information resources, a funding infrastructure and a support network. These services will prove to be particularly useful for graduates of the college’s faculty of design who are interested in setting up their own design consultancies.

Regional development

• The South East England Development Agency was established by the Government through the Regional Development Agency Act 1998, and came into operation on 1 April 1999.

• Seeda says its objective is to take a strategic lead in promoting the sustainable economic development of the region, of which design is a significant part.

• Its mission is to partner organisations to ‘make the South East of England a world class region’, through achieving sustainable development and enhanced quality of life as measured by: economic prosperity, environmental quality and social inclusion.


Seeda –

Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College –

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