New funding for human-centred design

26 May 2017, John Denton

From the number of news stories on British designers, you might think that we all understand the importance of design. But a recent Innovate UK report states that 68% of businesses never, or rarely, use design. If it is used, it is to make something look good rather to create better services or products.

The Innovate UK report reiterates that they “see the greatest value potential in design [when it] balances human, social, environmental, technical and commercial factors.” And now they are backing up their findings with “a new funding competition where UK businesses can apply for a share of £1 million for early-stage, human-centred design projects to create and explore new product or service ideas.” You can receive up to 70% funding for a project costing up to £60,000.

You don’t need to be in the design sector to take an approach that is design-centred. For example, cultural and heritage organisations might design:
• New offers to reach and engage new audiences
• The experience of their visitors
• A portfolio of new products and services based on collections, archives, images and films of performances, or learning content
• Ways of using personal data that generate value for both parties

If you are about to begin a new project, use design to help it succeed. You can start by building the following stages into your project:

Discover – Why are you trying to address this issue or make something better? Frame your problem through real-world data and user insights. Take a broader view of the issue and look at how other sectors have addressed this.

Define – Your goal is to create a clear design definition that begins to hone the solution and supports how and what should be done to make this a success. Is your approach feasible? Are you really addressing the right problem?

Develop – Begin by creating prototypes or proof of concepts, it is often at this stage that you realise new ways of approaching the challenge or that in fact, your original problem is not the one to resolve. Design, build and test until you feel comfortable to invest in fully developing the service or product.

Deliver – Implement your project using the right technologies, deciding the look & feel and ensuring on-going support. Use an agile approach to make sure you’re adaptable – and continue to question if your original design definition is still your goal.

And then continue to loop in user feedback and reiterate the solution to create the very best service or product experience.

Here at Golant Media Ventures, we have long been champions of human-centred design. We wrote a report for the Creative Industries Knowledge Transfer Network on the future of innovation driven by co-design. Patrick Towell, our CEO, taught a module on Experience and Service Design for mid-career professionals and graduates at Ravensbourne, London's premier digital media and design university sector college. And our EmmyTM-award winning associate John Denton collaborated closely with User Experience teams to deliver new services while at the BBC, and while working for KPMG set up their first in-house UX team.

With our successful track record of helping organisations secure public and private grants, we are ready to help you shape a winning bid and develop ways of weaving design across your work.

Don’t delay, as the Innovate UK deadline for registration is 14 June, with submissions due by 21 June. Contact us now at

Back to all news