Design help for businesses and public agencies

Rice Cube, a cuboid rice cooker, is one of the key highlights at the Singapore Design Week.
Rice Cube, a cuboid rice cooker, is one of the key highlights at the Singapore Design Week.PHOTO: DESIGNSINGAPORE COUNCIL

SINGAPORE - Design, and its practitioners, look set to play a bigger role in the way businesses grow and how public agencies communicate policies to Singaporeans.

At the opening of this year's Singapore Design Week on Friday, Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim announced a series of measures to kickstart a design movement here.

A few of these measures focused on businesses, both small and big, as Dr Yaacob urged them to use design to help them expand or overhaul their business models.

"Design should not be an afterthought, but an upstream input to business strategy development, so that it can deliver new value and create new markets," he said.

To this end, the DesignSingapore Council (Dsg), the national agency for design, will work with the Economic Development Board to launch the Innovation by Design Programme.

The four-stage programme will match "design strategists" from the industry with selected businesses. These strategists can help them spot opportunities in the market. At a later stage, a design firm will be linked with the company to implement workable strategies.

The minister also urged small and medium enterprises to tap into Spring Singapore's Capability Development Grant, a financial assistance programme designed to support such companies, to adopt design in their business models.

Leading by example, the Government will be a major design advocate: It will be working with the Dsg to use design to engage citizens in the delivery of citizen-centric policies and services.

Dr Yaacob highlighted the recent 'Better Life by Design: Designing for persons with disabilities' project, which was commissioned by Dsg in collaboration with the National Council of Social Service and other organisations, to find solutions to make life better for the disabled.

Along with their caregivers, people with disabilities were interviewed for the project, and they shared their challenges and talked about their needs. A workshop was later organised for designers and those in healthcare and social service organisations to propose design concepts that addressed those needs, as well as discuss how to engage the disabled in the community.

An education panel - of industry practitioners, design schools and government agencies - will also be set up to guide the development of a Design Industry Manpower Plan.

This plan will project the manpower needs of the industry, outline career paths, as well as map out the skills required for designers to succeed in their roles.

Going forward, Dsg will also work with industry associations to develop customised three-year plans to grow their respective sub-sectors. This includes conducting studies to understand the trends affecting the sector, as well as to identify business opportunities.