Sir James Dyson is recommending a raft of measures to support product design and manufacturing in the UK, including easing the cost of long-term investment in new product development.
Dyson (pictured), who recently announced a donation of £5m to the Royal College of Art to fund its new Battersea campus, tells Design Week what measures he would like the Government to take to promote investment in British design.
He says, ‘I would like to see the Government take back control of interest rates from the Bank of England and reassure manufacturers that in the long term, interest rates will not be governed by inflation.
‘The Government should realise that manufacturers and people in research and development cannot afford long-term investment, resulting in companies investing more in advertising to receive short-term financial reward than in making well-designed, high-quality products,’ he adds.
Dyson praises the research and development tax credits system, by which designers and manufacturers are entitled to tax relief on costs associated with researching and developing new products. But he complains that the system is ‘nitpicky’ and a ‘huge burden’ on companies.
He adds, ‘The system needs to be simplified so that companies can discover what their research and development costs are going to be as early as possible.’
Praising the French government for its £5.2bn support package for the beleaguered car manufacturing industry announced this week, Dyson says, ‘The French always poured money into high-speed trains, Concorde and Airbus, but the UK favours the banking sector. It decimated the aircraft manufacturing industry in the 1970s.
‘If the British Government backed big projects here, they would show people that design and technology is important to the UK economy. It would also stimulate employment in the design sector,’ says Dyson.
Dyson – who recently abandoned plans for a design school in Bath after it was subject to a planning inquiry and the Government rejected its funding proposal – believes that students should be encouraged into design.
He indicates that he is still considering alternatives to his design school project, including reviving the idea of a physical school, or founding an education website.
Dyson says he is not considering funding any other design schools or colleges following the announcement of the RCA pledge on Sunday.
Dyson on design education:
• ‘I hear that only about one in a thousand trained actors is working as an actor by the age of 40, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train them’
• ‘Design courses are one of the only higher education courses that teach creativity, making them very good training’