Promoting competitiveness through design

Can you put a value on good design? A new study commissioned by the DesignSingapore Council has valued the impact of design on Singapore's economy at an estimated $34.3 billion in 2015.

More details on the Value of Design study will be released later this year. But the preliminary findings already indicate that embedding design in both business and the everyday lives of Singaporeans has helped to add significant value to the economy. It is also a testament to the success of Singapore's Design Masterplans, created by the DesignSingapore Council to promote the design industry and encourage the adoption of design by businesses here.

The newest Design 2025 Masterplan was unveiled last week. The masterplans were created after design was identified as a key area of growth in 2003. They drove the development of both the design industry and the market for design.

"Our efforts have always been focused on understanding how best to support the industry and enable businesses to use design to stay competitive," said DesignSingapore Council executive director Jeffrey Ho.

Each successive masterplan has helped drive that impact.

The first, titled Dsg-I and covering 2004 to 2008, featured international presentations and mission trips as well as capability development programmes. These spawned over 100 new design products and services.

The President's Design Award was introduced in this first phase.

Dsg II, from 2009 to 2015, introduced design adoption grants like the Design Innovation Assistance (DIA) grant, and involved the creation of the Design Thinking and Innovation Academy and the National Design Centre. It also ushered in initiatives such as design accreditation and the SG-Mark.

Design IIa, created in 2014, acted as a bridging strategy to intensify industry development and market development efforts in the lead-up to Design 2025.

Since 2010, close to 140 small and medium-sized enterprises have received design adoption grants, including the DIA grant, allowing them to use design to differentiate their businesses and become more competitive.

And nearly 9,000 business professionals, educators and students have benefited from design thinking seminars and workshops, according to the DesignSingapore Council.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2016, with the headline Promoting competitiveness through design. Subscribe