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The Design Council just has launched its new findings on The Design Economy, illustrating the full impact of the £71.7bn (€100.5bn) of value that design contributes to the UK.

The Design Economy Report is a ground-breaking piece of research, which takes a wide perspective on the value that design brings. Design Council looked at design roles across all sectors — from design of the built environment to user-experience design in cutting-edge web agencies to engineering design in manufacturing companies.

This shows the amazing impact of design, which has created jobs at three times the national average and employs 1.6m people — around a third directly in design-intensive firms and the rest across other sectors. There is a significant overlap with the Creative Industries, but the design economy goes beyond this and nearly one third of design roles are outside of the creative economy.

The wider scope of this research combined with the impressive growth that design has experienced and in particular the contribution of digital, (making up 41 per cent of the design economy’s GVA), means that our figures are higher than UK government’s product, graphic and fashion statistics — and indeed our own previous reports.*

There are growing and successful design hotspots in the UK, mainly focused around the South East and our major cities such as Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh. However there are areas where design is underused, and there is a clear case for government and Design Council to look at how we can spread the benefits that design brings more widely across the country.

The research shows that design roles are 41 per cent more productive than the average, meaning that increasing uptake of design can play a key role in rebalancing the economy.

Select a region to compare the number of design firms

Select a region to compare the number of design firms

The exponential growth of design roles means that our businesses need a increasing supply of design talent. By broadening out our definition to include architects, software designers and design engineers, this shows nearly 8 out of 10 designers are male, even higher than our previous research. This presents a challenge to government to help schools and parents understand the potential career pathways that design offers to increase the talent pipeline and insure our companies can find the home-grown skills they need. The full report is now available for purchase.

We could not have done this research without the support of the following organisations and would like to thank them again for their contribution: Arts & Humanities Research Council, Design & Art Direction, Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, Department for Culture, Media and Sports, Economic and Social Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Innovate UK, Intellectual Property Office, Knowledge Transfer Network and University of the Arts London. We would also like to thank the agencies TBR and BOP whose research contributed the data and analysis behind this report.

We hope this report will play a key role in demonstrating how critical design is to our economy and the need for government to continue to champion British design at home and abroad.

* In 2010 we didn’t look at GVA, but we did look at in-house spend on design and consultancies (excluding design in the built environment), which equated to £15bn. The UK government data from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport focuses solely on product, graphic and fashion design services and also shows design is fast growing and contributes £3bn to GVA.

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