Beyond the bottom line: redefining the value of design in SME formation

Michael Pierre Johnson, Katherine Champion, Lynn-Sayers McHattie, Gregor White

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

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For SMEs to operate in the complex and globalised economic landscape of today engaging with innovation can sustain competitive advantage. Within Design Management, design is being increasingly posited as a strategic resource to facilitate the absorption of new design resources and leverage design knowledge in ways that support SMEs through such economic pressures. Evidencing the relationship between design and economic performance is complex, leading to extensive current research and industry efforts to show how design adds economic value. Despite the value of such efforts, it is important to recognise that innovation means different things to different organizations, especially for start-ups and SMEs. Within the rising tide of design-led innovation, there is a gap being explored in how design can effectively capture and evaluate its contribution within the complex and diverse situations of business development it engages. In seeking to address this gap, this paper presents findings from research undertaken within Design in Action (DiA), an AHRC-funded knowledge exchange hub. Presenting DiA as a single case study, the paper offers methodical reflection on five case example start-up businesses funded by DiA in order to explore the value that design-led innovation approaches offered in their formation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages34
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2016
Event20th Academic Design Management Conference Inflection Point : Design Research Meets Design Practice - Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, United States
Duration: 22 Jul 201629 Jul 2016


Conference20th Academic Design Management Conference Inflection Point
Abbreviated title20 ADMC
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Design-led innovation
  • Knowledge exchange
  • SME formation


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