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The Innovation Dimension: Designing in a Broader Context

Date Published: 30 July 2011

The term “innovation” has become increasingly prominent in debates in government policy through the establishment of the new UK government department, Department for Innovation, Universities, and Skills (DIUS) and through reports such as “Innovation Nation.”1 National funding bodies, such as research councils and the Leverhulme Trust, are emphasizing innovation through the “digital economy” and a corresponding prioritization in the design establishment through the activities and publications of the Design Council.

These converging activities have highlighted the complex, overlapping,

inconsistent, and incompletely understood relationship of innovation as used in design and innovation in the broader literature of innovation studies. Concentrating on the UK, this paper provides an indicative review of these fields and aims to achieve three goals:

1) Describe the wider academic field of innovation and relate this to a design perspective,

2) examine the connections, tensions, and synergies that emerge as these fields converge, and

3) propose active areas for contributions between fields.

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