Underestimating the regions is a big mistake

After reading Lynda Relph-Knight’s thoughts about the strength of design in the regions (Comment, DW 26 March), I reflected on the title of the piece and wondered who is underestimating the power of the regions.

It certainly is not the regions themselves, which are aware of their potential and have established networking groups. Some of these groups – whether with inclusive or exclusive membership – provide more than simple networking opportunities.

Design Leicestershire has built significant momentum. A project being delivered by Loughborough University and led by the design industry is busy producing a book showcasing the county’s design cluster as part of a wider marketing campaign. The initiative is supported by all three universities in the county, UK Trade & Investment and a broad range of private-sector partners, with funding from Leicestershire Economic Partnership and the Welland SSP.

Such bodies do pose a question to trade associations such as the Design Business Association. The national trade associations need to engage.

Design Leicestershire is not just about the exchange of business knowledge and enhancing a shared profile, it is also committed to encouraging collaboration between consultancies, universities and businesses. This can be bolstered by links with trade associations and needn’t exclude parties outside the county, such as other design networks.

Perhaps it might be London itself that underestimates the power of the regions – not intentionally, but naturally, given the size of the shadow it casts. London should be careful that this shadow does not obscure opportunities to forge collaborative ventures with those who are more in tune with regional challenges and agendas.

Trade associations certainly should not underestimate the power of the regions, and need to understand the potential they represent.

Trevor Flannery, Sales and marketing director, Stocks Taylor Benson, by e-mail

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