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Design strategy and innovation – the Cox Report

Published date: 21st December 2014
Last modified: 18th January 2017

Design strategy and innovation was pushed to the fore front in 2005 via the Cox Report. The report was commissioned at the time of the 2005 Budget Statement by Sir George Cox and it addresses a question that is vital to the UK’s long-term economic success. As stated in the report itself, ‘The recommendations largely apply to various arms of government. The messages are for business.’ The message was creative organisations are the way forward. It linked creativity and innovation with design, defining it in such a away that opened the notion of creativity to everyone, and not just the remit of the creative industries.

Definitions within the Cox Report

‘Creativity’ is the generation of new ideas – either new ways of looking at existing problems, or of seeing new opportunities, perhaps by exploiting emerging technologies or changes in markets.

‘Innovation’ is the successful exploitation of new ideas. It is the process that carries them through to new products, new services, new ways of running the business or even new ways of doing business.

‘Design’ is what links creativity and innovation. It shapes ideas to become practical and attractive propositions for users or customers. Design may be described as creativity deployed to a specific end.

Initiated by concerns over the ‘rapidly advancing developing economies’ the report was to address questions surrounding the UK businesses long-term economic success in a global economy that is becoming ever more competitive.

“(my) recommendations are aimed at what government can do to help bring about a climate that encourages and supports greater creativity (and by extension “design strategy and innovation”). That opens the way for better business performance, but doesn’t deliver it. The latter can come only from business itself.”

Cox Report

Design Strategy and Innovation

The Outcomes

The recommendations put forward are as follows:

  • Tackle the issue of awareness and understanding
  • Improve effectiveness of government support and incentive schemes
  • Tackle the issue in higher education, broaden understanding & skills of tomorrows business leaders
  • Take steps to use the massive power of public procurement
  • Raise the profile of the UK’s creative capabilities (network of centers)

Since then a lot has been done, creative centers have pretty much sprung up in every city, but I still hear grumbles when it comes to awareness and understanding, particularly on the side of the creative. In part it is our, the creatives, fault because it means we are failing in our job to communicate the value of the creative industries in delivering design strategy and innovation. One of our goals is to shine some light on the issues and to hopefully show how people can engage with design in a way that relates to the organisation.

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