In a move to help local companies tap design to expand beyond the country, Singapore's national agency for design - the DesignSingapore Council - will be transferred from the Ministry of Communications and Information to the Economic Development Board (EDB) from April 1 next year.
Announcing the move yesterday, Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran said design is increasingly important to drive business innovation and growth "against the backdrop of rapid technological advancements and growing customer sophistication".
Speaking at the Design Education Summit at Parkroyal on Beach Road, he said the change will allow the DesignSingapore Council, which was set up in 2003, to work more closely with the economic agencies under the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), and help different sectors adopt design.
EDB, a statutory board under MTI, will oversee and support the council's work with industry and also provide business networks to help companies use design.
Mr Mark Wee, who will continue as the DesignSingapore Council's executive director, said: "Our mandate to be a champion for the design industry will not change. As part of the EDB family, we will be able to tap its immense industry knowledge and extensive networks even more, to promote the adoption of design in companies.
"The transfer will also give us greater autonomy and flexibility to develop partnerships and explore new opportunities to make our programmes better."
The council's work includes expanding the role of design as a strategic and transformational tool for businesses and Government.
Mr Iswaran said design is an aspect of Singapore's economic development strategy that is "gaining greater momentum".
"It can have an impact on small businesses and even our largest companies are also harnessing design in order to maintain a competitive edge," he added.
For instance, Changi Airport received the President's Design Award this year for ensuring that its Terminal 4 design helps passengers have a seamless check-in and retail experience.
To develop a strong design talent pipeline, the council has been working with the industry, institutes of higher learning and public agencies to develop the Design Industry Manpower Plan, which aims to close manpower gaps and meet the changing needs of the industry.
In a statement, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said the transfer of the council is timely.
"Design will become an increasingly crucial competitive advantage as our industries look to innovation to drive growth in the future economy," he said.