Government calls for report on Cox Review implementation

Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling will tomorrow commission an in-depth progress report on initiatives set up since last year’s Cox Review.

In an address to the Design Council’s Competitiveness Summit, taking place on Thursday, the minister will call for a formal assessment of how Sir George Cox’s recommendations on tackling global competition through design and innovation are now being addressed. The report will be published by the Design Council in January 2007. A smaller scale ‘scorecard’ review of the various programmes underway was originally intended for publication at the summit. This was pulled earlier this week by the Design Council, following intervention by Darling, who is keen for a more formal review.

However, the council’s conclusions, which rated progress with scores out of five, will be used as the basis for the new report, says Design Council media director Deborah Fitzgerald.

These conclusions find that the UK is not reacting fast enough to the challenge of international competition and must become more ‘impatient’. A greater sense of urgency is needed to push design and innovation up the business and Government agenda, according to Design Council chief executive David Kester.

‘We are asking how seriously the Government and business are taking the competitiveness issue and whether we are rising to the challenge,’ says Kester. ‘Britain has to become more impatient to deliver progress, as we are not reacting quickly enough.’

Representatives from Government, education, business and the creative industries will meet at the summit to discuss how design and innovation can be linked with economic growth. Incoming Minister for Science and Innovation Malcolm Wicks will also speak at the event.

Delivered to Chancellor Gordon Brown in December 2005, the Cox Review identified five principal areas for action (DW 8 December 2005).

According to Kester, progress has been made in improving the way small- and medium-sized enterprises use design, through the council’s Designing Demand programme. This is being delivered and funded via the Regional Development Agencies. However, there is uncertainty over ongoing RDA funding, leaving the long-term future of the programme unclear.

Changes to research and development tax credits, demonstrated in a landmark legal case by Nissan, are another area of improvement that will be indicated in the report .

However, progress has been much slower in putting innovation into the heart of Government procurement, according to Kester. ‘There is a huge opportunity to harness the massive spending of Government. Each procurement case is a chance for innovation, but only if you allow innovation to take place, rather than militate against it with rigid systems, which factor out all risk and predetermine what things look like,’ he says.


• Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling has personally commissioned a progress review of design and innovation initiatives

• The report will be written by the Design Council and published in January

• It will cover the five principal areas noted by Cox: small- and medium-sized enterprises; Government support; public procurement; education and the UK’s creative profile

• A second annual review will be published in another 12 months, compiled by an external panel

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