Design Foundations 2 Funding Briefing - Cardiff

Event details
Tuesday, 23 May 2017 at 9:30 am
Cardiff, United Kingdom
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Briefing event for round 2 of Innovate UK's Design Foundations funding competition.


Design Foundations:

Grant Funding for Early-stage Design 


Design Foundations is a grant funding programme from Innovate UK to help businesses identify innovation opportunities and generate better propositions for desirable, useful and feasible products, services and business models.

The aim is to build collaborations between businesses looking for new ways to innovate, and designers with the creative tools to provide this insight. It means using design interventions to address critical business challenges such as:


Tackling the right problems 


Better understanding customer behaviour, motivations and experiences

  • Quickly simulate and test new propositions with minimal investment
  • Keeping ahead of market drivers


Identify future technological, social or environmental changes

  • Explore new ways to create value, efficiency and resilience
  • Ensuring commercial viability


Identify viable routes to market and new applications

  • Communicate the benefits of a novel technology to investors and customers


Building business capability 

  • Unite teams and partners behind a clear, compelling vision
  • Improve your innovation processes and design capability



Why use early stage design in innovation?

Early-stage design encompasses the various activities undertaken to arrive at a range of good ideas, which may then be further developed and refined towards commercialisation. The ideas may relate to products (physical or digital), services or even business models.

Such activity is distinct from engineering design or styling which typically occurs later in a project and involves the refinement and final specification of a product or service.

Ideas with the greatest potential are founded on a thorough understanding of customer behavior and motivations. Adopting a human-centred, rather than a technology-led, approach at this early stage of the innovation process is important because, ultimately, people don’t buy technology – they buy what technology does for them. Technology can enable the supply of products and services, but design balances that supply with demand i.e. the needs and desires of customers.



Excellent, early stage design interventions improve innovation outcomes and business performance. Developments will have a lower risk of failure and are likely to generate greater revenue, higher profit margins and increased market share and exports compared to projects that don’t include early-stage design. Businesses that embrace a design-led culture are likely to be more efficient innovators, be more productive, have stronger brand equity and demonstrate greater resilience.


The Design Foundations programme is a great opportunity to develop your organisation’s design capability and lay the foundations for compelling, high-value innovations that will attract investors and customers.


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