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How much is design worth to the NZ economy?

02 Aug 2017 by Mike Tisdall

A new study by PWC released last week calculates design's economic contribution to New Zealand is $10.1 billion - yes, that's BILLION. Approximately 4.2 % of the country's total GDP. The research reveals that if design were treated as an individual industry its contribution to the New Zealand economy would be larger than agriculture and on a par with retail trade ($10.6 billion), and food, beverage and tobacco product manufacturing. The sector also provides approximately 94,200 FTE design positions in New Zealand, roughly 4.4 per cent of employment.

The Value of Design report was commissioned by DesignCo, a consortium which comprises Massey University’s College of Creative Arts, the Designers Institute of New Zealand, Otago Polytechnic School of Design, NZTE, AUT’s School of Art and Design, the Auckland Co-design Lab, Callaghan Innovation and Victoria University’s School of Design. 

Finance Minister Stephen Joyce expressed his excitement in his forward to the report: “Design is a powerful tool of the modern, interconnected world,” he said. “It is a key component of innovation, turning great ideas into services and products that consumers want to buy and use, it can help ensure that public services are user-friendly and more efficient, and it can help make cities more attractive places for citizens and skilled migrants to live and work. In short, these design-led firms are contributing to New Zealand’s success as a diversified, resilient and growing economy.”

Professor Claire Robinson, Pro Vice Chancellor at Massey's College of Creative Arts and convener of DesignCo, was even more succinct. “There is a strong correlation between national prosperity, economic growth and a thriving design sector,” she said. “International evidence confirms that design leads to more competitive firms making and selling higher value products and services."

Among DesignCo’s recommendations for future actions are:

  • Treasury to develop a national design strategy in collaboration with the New Zealand design sector.
  • Establish and fund a body similar to the UK Design Council responsible for the strategic coordination of design in New Zealand, bringing together the design industry, research and education.
  • Establish a programme of business support for the use of design by SMEs, similar to the NZTE Better by Design programme.
  • Increase targeted funding support for design-led service transformation in the public sector.
  • Widen the current conceptualisation of STEM to include creative arts subjects such as design and creative media production, and increase the EFTS funding for these subject areas.
  • Establish a dedicated research fund for design researchers to access, and infrastructure to support the allocation of funds (separate from science, health or arts funding).

You can see The Value of Design report in full here.




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