The first International Design Scoreboard, which ranks countries by their design capabilities, sees the UK placed fourth in absolute terms.
When the size of the economy is taken to account, the UK drops down to sixth. The US is ranked number one in absolute terms, with Singapore coming top in relative terms.
The International Design Scoreboard, which has been produced by a consortium of British universities led by the University of Cambridge and supported by the Design Council, measures countries’ design capability based on a number of factors, including public investment in design, total number of design graduates, and number of World Intellectual Patent Office design registrations.
It also looks at the number of WIPO trademark registrations, the number of consultancies in each country, the turnover of the design services sector, and levels of employment in the design sector.
It has been funded through a research grant of more than £300 000 from the joint Arts and Humanities Research Council/Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council programme Designing for the 21st Century.
Dr James Moultrie, lecturer on design and innovation at the University of Cambridge, who led the research, says it is an imperfect first attempt, which ‘provides insight while acknowledging weaknesses’.
Rankings have only been produced for 12 countries because, Moultrie says, it was impossible to gather sufficient statistics for other nations.
Furthermore, the research only looks at design consultancy services, and doesn’t take in-house design services into account.
Moultrie is in talks with the Design Council to develop the research, starting with an event planned for June to engage international representatives from around 30 countries.
He says that over the next two years he hopes to produce another International Design Scoreboard, which will provide more accurate and up-to-date information, and that an ultimate aim is for the implementation of consistent international design ratings.
David Godber, deputy chief executive of the Design Council, which provided data, facilities and funding for the research, says, ‘It’s a foundation to build on for the future. We are conscious that there will be gaps and hypotheses, but you have to start somewhere.
‘As the research is developed it can help us inform policy, define the value of design, and inform British consultancies working abroad,’ he adds.
International Design Scoreboard
Using absolute indicators:
2 South Korea
8 Hong Kong
Using relative indicators:
2 South Korea
12 Hong Kong