The Design Council is to be funded by the newly created Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, following the overhaul of the Department of Trade and Industry by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.
The council’s latest funding application to the DTI will now be considered by the DIUS. Its move away from the DTI’s replacement body, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, raises some questions about design’s role within business in the eyes of the Government.
According to Design Council chief executive David Kester, moving under the wing of the DIUS sends a ‘strong’ signal that the placing of design alongside science, engineering and maths indicates that it is high on the Government agenda, and that it will play a fundamental role in the development of the economy.
‘Officials are keen to point out that it is no accident that design has moved to this department. Design can understand user needs and create marketable propositions for science. This needs to be recognised now in policy terms,’ says Kester.
The design community may see further investment in areas like education and skills as a result of the move, he says.
The Design Council’s other programmes, such as business integration scheme Designing Demand, will continue to retain links with the DBERR.
The appointments of James Purnell as Culture Secretary and Alistair Darling as Chancellor are also welcomed by the Design Council. Both have supported design in the past and recognised the wider role it can play in the economy, says Kester.
Funding for Design Council projects will continue until the autumn, when the Government’s broader spending review will be revealed.
The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, working with design to develop innovation and entrepreneurship, will also be overseen by DIUS.