£5.8m RCA and Imperial centre

The Royal College of Art and Imperial College London have finally unveiled their plans to create a £5.8m joint interdisciplinary innovation centre called Design London.

In what is being hailed as the first-ever major partnership between a UK design school and a traditional top-ten university, the institutions hope to pioneer a national shift in entrepreneurship and innovation.

The centre will form part of the emerging network of academic ‘centres of excellence’, recommended by the Cox Review of 2005.

‘Design London will no doubt accelerate the move towards a more successful creative economy. A lot of reports amount to nothing, so it’s tremendously exciting to see the recommendations being put into action,’ says Design Council chairman Sir George Cox.

Design London will enable graduates of the RCA, ICL and the Tanaka Business School to swap knowledge through cross-disciplinary modules, research and business-outreach elements.

Funding has come from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, which provided £3.8m, with the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts contributing £900 000. The remainder of the funding – around £1m – has come from the universities themselves.

The long-term aim is to make the centre self-financing, while there are plans for the London Development Agency to come ‘on stream financially’ in year three of Design London.

Design London will be overseen by a management team comprising two RCA and two ICL academics – Jeremy Myerson, Professor of design studies at the RCA, Pro Rector of the RCA Alan Cummings, Christopher Hankin, Pro Rector (research) at ICL and David Gann, head of innovation and entrepreneurship at the Tanaka Business School.

A director will be recruited to head the joint management team and to make teaching and outreach appointments.

An advisory panel, chaired by Sir James Dyson, will be responsible for steering the project in response to ‘external factors’.

• Based at existing site at ICL
• Teaching and module exchange
• High-level interdisciplinary research
• The ‘incubator’ will form an ideas-intensive multidisciplinary environment for graduates
• The ‘simulator’ will be a business-outreach element, helping established businesses with innovation and offering entrepreneurship courses
• The site, teaching materials, staffing and branding currently in development
• Branding, by Happily Ever After, to be unveiled end of June

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