Bigger role for design in business, govt

With Dr Yaacob (third from right) at the opening of this year's Singapore Design Week at the National Design Centre are (from left) Associate Professor Wong Yunn Chii, NUS department of architecture; Mr Chee Hong Tat, Minister of State, Ministry of C
With Dr Yaacob (third from right) at the opening of this year's Singapore Design Week at the National Design Centre are (from left) Associate Professor Wong Yunn Chii, NUS department of architecture; Mr Chee Hong Tat, Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information and Ministry of Health; Dr Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information and Ministry of Education; and Mr Zaqy Mohamed, MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Govt agency to help companies tap design expertise to improve strategies: Yaacob

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 last night, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim announced a series of measures to kick-start 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 a 300-strong audience comprising designers and government representatives at the festival's launch at the National Design Centre in Middle Road.

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.

MAKE DESIGN A PRIORITY

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.

DR YAACOB IBRAHIM, Minister for Communications and Information, on using design to boost businesses.

The programme will match "design strategists" from the industry with selected businesses to help them spot opportunities in the market.

At a later stage, a design firm will help the company implement workable strategies and the firm can tap on a fund to pay for this. Details are yet to be finalised.

The minister also urged small and medium-sized enterprises to tap into Spring Singapore's Capability Development Grant to adopt design in their business models.

Firms could, for instance, get a grant to hire a design consultancy to develop their brand.

Leading by example, the Government will work with 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, 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.

People with disabilities and their caregivers were interviewed, and they shared their challenges and talked about their needs.

A workshop was later organised to propose design concepts that addressed those needs, as well as to discuss how the disabled could be better engaged in the community.

The spotlight on design also means a greater demand for skilled practitioners, as well as training and learning opportunities.

Dr Yaacob said: "Job opportunities for designers are no longer limited to working in design firms. With more companies building in-house design teams to help them stay nimble to respond to market changes, many designers are now employed in multinational corporations and innovation service firms."

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.

The 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.

SEE LIFE

Ringside seat to design

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2017, with the headline 'Bigger role for design in business, govt'. Print Edition | Subscribe