Design in science: designing disruption project

This project is concerned with understanding the potential for interactions between scientists and designers to accelerate the application of scientific discoveries. It will explore how the involvement of professional (industrial) design expertise early in scientific research could improve the potential for its future application.


Research context

The science base provides the technological foundations for future firms and industries, but successful commercial application requires consideration of the needs of potential users and consumers of the technology from an early stage in its development. It is well established that the early integration of industrial design skills is essential in product development (Gemser 2001).

However, less is known about the potential role that designers can play in supporting the development of new science. This research seeks to address the question:


How, when and to what extent can the involvement of professional (industrial) design expertise, early in scientific research, improve the potential for its future application? The project seeks to understand the impact of design skills on the development of new technology in the science base.


The project will adopt an action research approach, engaging designers with live, 'new technology' projects to help scientists develop commercial applications for their work and encourage an early consideration of economic, social, market, customer and user requirements.


Cases will be selected to span a range of technology types and technology readiness levels. Insights derived from the first phase of exploratory cases will be applied to a series of detailed, longer term-interventions in order to develop new solutions and applications.


A dedicated centre will be established to provide research teams with design support and services, building a better understanding of the role of design in the development and exploitation of science.

It is expected that the involvement of design expertise will impact on scientific research programmes by:

  • helping to shape the research direction by focusing attention on potential market opportunities
  • improving preparation for technology transfer and commercialisation
  • helping to gain further investment for research or exploitation by enabling clear communication of market potential



  • Design assistance to technology research projects
  • End of project design show
  • Guidance on the role of design in early stage technology research



James Moultrie Alex Driver Carlos Peralta Mahecha

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