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Design Research

Design has been identified by the AHRC as a strategic priority in our 2011-15 delivery plan and we have developed a programme of complementary activity to explore this. The AHRC strategy 2013-18 restates this commitment through enhanced partnership working with related organisations and bodies and it is in this collaborative context that the current programme of funding opportunities has been formulated.  

We have also commissioned a report outlining social design research in the UK (opens in a new window).

Design Council Collaboration

AHRC have been working in partnership with the Design Council over the last two years to look at design research in UK universities, and its connection with businesses and policymakers. Together we commissioned a wide-ranging review of the design landscape and available literature. Following an initial broad scoping study, we decided to focus our attention on service design and innovation in services. Both studies can be found on the Design Council website here:

Initial scoping study (Design Council PDF 307KB opens in new window)

You can view the full Scoping Study on Service Design report here (PDF 716KB, opens in new window)

We have produced an animation to illustrate one of the key aims of the partnership:

The Value of Design (opens in new window) 

Innovate UK Design Special Interest Group

The AHRC is also working with Innovate UK on their Design Special Interest Group, looking at the ways in which Design contributes to innovation in the UK’s business and industrial sectors:

Design Special Interest Group (opens in new window)  

Funding Schemes

Responsive Mode 

We are keen to point out that theme specific calls are not the extent of AHRC support for design. We are always happy to see design proposals come in via our Responsive Mode schemes: Research Grants, Fellowships and Research Networking, all of which operate without formal deadlines so proposals can be submitted at any time.

AHRC funded research in design

UnBox 2014: The UnBox LABS 2014 is an exciting project that brings together creative practitioners, artists and researchers from the UK & India for a 10-day lab experience that explores the theme of 'FUTURE CITIES'. The project is a collaboration between UnBox, British Council, the AHRC, Science & Innovation Network, supported by the REACT Creative Economy Hub and the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India. Find out more about successful applicants.

Design in Action: KE Hub led by the University of Dundee in partnership with Edinburgh College of Art, Glasgow School of Art, Gray’s School of Art, University of Abertay and the University of St Andrews. Design in Action website (opens in new window).

The Creative Exchange: KE Hub led by Lancaster University in partnership with the University of Newcastle and the Royal College of Art. The Creative Exchange website (opens in new window).

Design Against Crime led by UaL: Central Saint Martins. Find out about Design Against Crime.

Design for Wellbeing: Ageing and Mobility in the Built Environment: in partnership with the EPSRC and ESRC. EPSRC Design for Wellbeing webpage

Designing for the 21st Century: in partnership with the EPSRC, led by the University of Dundee. Find out about Designing for the 21st Century.

Collaborative Doctoral Awards in Design 2014: Click here to see a list of funded projects (PDF 90KB, opens in new window).

Design in Innovation: Research Development Funding: Click here to see a list of funded projects (PDF 115KB, opens in new window).

Design Research Fellowships: This scheme offered design researchers the chance to work in collaboration with a business or public sector organisation that was interested in putting design principles into practice. The successful fellows are able to undertake a research project whilst having unique access to the resources, experiences and networks of the partner organisation. A total of four awards were made in July 2014. Click here to see a list of funded projects (Excel 22KB, opens in a new window).

Research Grants highlight for Connected Communities and Design: A highlight call was put in place for the Research Grants scheme to encourage the development of research proposals that connect communities, designers and arts and humanities researchers in the co-design and co-production of research. The highlight notice closed in January 2014.

Bristol and Bath Design Research Project: A call was developed for a team to carry out an in-depth study examining how businesses and public sector organisations in the Bristol and Bath area use design to drive innovation and increase economic performance. The closing date for this call was 22/5/2014 and the award has now been made. 

Digital Design Weekend at the V&A 

The V&A's Digital Design Weekend, which coincided with London Design Festival, took place in September 2014 and was a weekend of events celebrating contemporary digital art and design. The Weekend included interactive installations, robotics, tinkering and inventive electronics, workshops, and demonstrations. Professor Jon Rogers (University of Dundee), Professor Andrew Prescott (University of Glasgow and the Digital Transformations Theme Leadership Fellow) and Irini Papdimitriou (V&A) compiled the Open Collaborative Making:  A Digital Perspective publication to explore what people are making and what they think about the digital and the future of the digital. You can read the publication online (opens in a new window).



Laura Gibson, Head of Creative Arts & Digital Humanities: l.gibson@ahrc.ac.uk or 01793 416033

Russell Leake, Programme Co-ordinator (Creative and Performing Arts): r.leake@ahrc.ac.uk or 01793 416039

The AHRC works with the UK SBS (Shared Business Service) to deliver all of our funding activities.

Enquiries about Je-S registration or completing proposal forms should be directed to grants@ssc.rcuk.ac.uk or 01793 444 164