The Industrial Design Advantage – Supplement to the 11th Report – June 2008

The PTC has identified Industrial Design (ID) as an important aspect of technology commercialization. It is currently underutilized in BC and offers advantages to make local companies more competitive. Industrial Design is described as:

“the professional service of creating and developing concepts and specifications that optimise the function, value and appearance of products and systems for the mutual benefit of both user and manufacturer.” Industrial design, which sometimes overlaps with other design disciplines, is about marrying precision and accuracy with the look, feel and utility of a product.”

Globally companies are using industrial design and other design disciplines. Positive impacts include increased product utility, usability and user experience, better environmental sustainability, differentiation in the marketplace and improved business performance. Due to this wide range of benefits, design has been recognised as one of the key methods for companies to gain a competitive advantage. This is particularly true in mature sectors where most competitors have the same technology.

There are economic benefits from ID that are measurable including: increased revenue, improved profits, better stock performance, and higher market share. Strong ID can result in higher prices from superior products and services or reduced costs from lower development, materials, manufacturing or transportation costs. ID can also be used to measure, validate and improve the environmental sustainability of products.

Due to the significance of resource industries to BC’s economy and the number of small companies in BC’s high tech companies, there has been low awareness regarding the benefits of ID and investment has been relatively small. There are BC sectors that could benefit such as lighting, advanced manufacturing, clean tech, and resource industries (especially forestry).