05 January 2009

Design, innovation

An excellent article in today's Globe and Mail illustrates how recessions are good times to focus on research and development. In "Rewards go to those with courage to innovate," Eric Reguly outlines how the depression of the 1930s gave rise to many of the last century's great innovations.

This makes sense. In a time when we are all asked to make do with less, innovators turn to maximizing returns (from products and processes). In so doing, new and innovative ways of thinking, doing, and producing emerge.

As College applied research capacity has been established to complement the R&D continuum in Canada - itself a process innovation of sorts - we have an opportunity to look at ways we can add value to the traditional resource extraction role that Canada has played. One way to do this is through design.

Sara Diamond, president of the Ontario College of Art and Design, penned a very good piece in the 29 December issue of the Globe on the role design can and should play. (This article, inexplicably, in unavailable on the Globe's website.) "Designing our way to a stronger economy" offers an excellent prescription for how design, including participatory and human-centred design, can help industries add value to products and services. "Design is essential to Canada's science and technology strategy" Diamond asserts, having application in all of the priority areas, and "Countries that rank highly in innovation and competitiveness invest in design."

George Brown College's School of Design - recently voted one of the best design schools in the world - plays a key role in the GBC Research Labs. Incorporating design into our suite of services is one way we offer a return on investment and a return on innovation.

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