Australian businesses must concentrate more on quality design and design management if they wish to market their products successfully.
Micro Economic Reform Minister Geoff Gallop told the Design Focus seminar today that too many Western Australian businesses did not see design as a key factor in their business successes and that a major shift in management culture was needed to address the situation.
Dr Gallop was launching the State Government's Design Focus, aimed at helping businesses place the necessary emphasis on design.
The key elements of the strategy included:
· national and international design exhibitions;
· design education at primary, secondary and tertiary industry levels;
· design referral services;
· industry specific design initiatives, and;
· a design retail venture.
"I predict that Design Focus will be critical to our future international competitiveness," Dr Gallop said.
"One of the key strategies being adopted in the international marketplace today is design and design management.
"Good design is a crucial competitive advantage and it must be actively managed and not taken for granted.
"It is not just about ensuring top product design. It begins with the corporate image projected to a client walking through the door for the first time.
"It extends to the design of the building, the product design and staff efficiency, to the back-up service given by the firm after a sale is made."
Dr Gallop said that to this end both the Commonwealth and WA Governments had allocated significant resources to promote the importance of design as a competitive tool to industry.
"However, I believe that while a number of programs, like the Commonwealth and State Funded National Industries Extension Services, are up and running, there needs to be a broadly-based program to make the necessary cultural shift," he said.
In the February economic statement, The WA Advantage, Premier Carmen Lawrence announced that the Government would sponsor a WA design centre.
Management consultant Dr Peter Steidl was appointed to investigate the professional design needs of industry and reported back that such a centre was not economically viable and would attract little support from industry.
"His report suggested that a design centre would fail like others in Australia had before it," Dr Gallop said.
"He suggested an approach which looks beyond developing short-term solutions for today's problems - a Design Focus in fact.
"The project will not be a Government program but a partnership between all parties, including Government, industry, educators and designers.
"It will rely on direct Government funding in its initial stages but after that revenue will be generated through sponsorships, grants, admission fees, seminars and other appropriate activities."