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New hub hopes to promote global competitiveness by design

A new collaborative hub aims to spread the adoption of design led innovation (DLI), a “whole-of-business” approach based on a deep understanding of customer needs.

The META Design Thinking for Export & Competitiveness Hub was officially launched yesterday at the University of Technology, Sydney, which has partnered with META for the initiative.

“Design thinking is not a new concept. It was already around in the 50s; it’s just been re-applied,” Professor Sam Bucolo, a DLI expert at UTS, told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

 “That whole notion of you put out your shingle and make something good doesn’t stack up any more in a global environment.”

The hub aims to link business to each other and researchers to help transform firms based on the concept, aimed at increasing competitiveness through strategies that will “align… internal organisation, processes, business model and culture with their customers’ demands.”

According to Bucolo, the idea’s time has come due to the shift in Australia’s cost structure in recent years, as well as the open economy. He said it had already been promoted and adopted successfully in Scandinavian countries, the UK and New Zealand.

“Australia has been left standing, for lots of different reasons,” he said. “Our role is actually to quickly accelerate it.”

The design-led innovation framework is outlined in a report co-authored by Bucolo and Peter King of the CSIRO and released in June, Design for manufacturing competitiveness.

The study of 14 companies, including Enware, Centor, and Rode Microphones, identified an approach common to these globally successful manufacturers. It involved design principles applied to all aspects of what these companies do.

Membership of the hub was worthwhile for the support during the difficult task of transformation, explained Nigel Spork, managing director of Centor and one of two success stories presented as case studies at the launch.

“Design integration done well is something that you don’t dabble in,” Spork told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“You’re embarking on a journey into the future, and that’s a scary place.

“So if you’re able to have others who are there to help you along that are there along the journey, not just to learn from others, but to learn from and share in the experience, it’s much more reassuring and it’s much more productive.”

Nick White, CEO of Gourmet Gardens, agreed.

“There’s not many forums where you can do that,” he said.

“So hopefully with some good case studies and mentors on board, there’ll be a platform for people to engage on.”

META’s managing director Zoran Angelkovski said the philosophy of design-led innovation was consistent with his organisation’s message of promoting “business excellence across the whole of the value chain”.

META has launched several collaborative hubs this year, beginning in May with a Carbon Fibre Hub, based at Deakin University, and including others themed around industries such as commercial aerospace and prefabricated housing.

The Design Thinking hub was one of “more than 20” to be launched according to Angelkovski, who said he remained hopeful that META could continue to exist after December 31, when its federal government funding ends.

“What we’ve been doing through these activities and many others is positioning META to be considered as part of the National Innovation Competitiveness Agenda that addresses a whole range of issues about business and business becoming globally competitive,” he said.

 

Image: http://www.designthinkingcentral.info/

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