Local businesses urged to use design to beat recession

Around 200 local companies discovered how design can deliver real benefits to their business, even during the current economic downturn, at Invest Northern Ireland’s Design Conference in Belfast today.

Guest speakers included some of the UK business world’s best-known designers and creative minds, alongside representatives from innovative local companies.

Wayne Hemingway of Red or Dead and Hemingway Design fame, Dan Germain of fast-growing drinks brand Innocent Smoothies, Sebastian Conran of iconic design house Studio Conran, and Adrian Berry from London-based agency Factorydesign set out how innovation and creativity can be integrated into any business model.

Texam Design Engineering of Lisburn, Jackson Reece Herbal Baby Wipes of Waringstown, Ballymena’s New World Developments and Belfast-based Nichem described how design-focussed advice and support from Invest NI has helped them develop products, streamline operations and boost sales.

Speaking at the event in W5 at the Odyssey, Belfast, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development, Tracy Meharg, said: “Design plays a major role in successful businesses and can be a powerful tool for growth, yet it does not have to be difficult to incorporate or even involve a sizeable financial investment. This is especially important in the current climate as many businesses seek to cut costs.

“Our speakers today have demonstrated how a little creativity can go a long way towards setting a company apart from its competitors, whether through more eye-catching packaging, innovative marketing campaigns, improved product performance or a brand new product idea.”

Ms Meharg continued: “In recognition of this, Invest NI has ramped up the support available from our dedicated Design Service. Businesses of all sizes, regardless of their previous experience in the field, can access a range of financial and advisory support which can help them harness the power of design. Since September 2008 over 200 local companies have availed of the services on offer and we hope to engage with many more.”

Delegates had the opportunity to engage with guest speakers in informative Q&A sessions. One-to-one meetings with an Invest NI Design Advisor were also available for companies to find out more about how design can help grow their business and to discuss specific design issues.