Research aimed at transforming the health ecosystem through design-led innovation and contributing to the UK’s net-zero agenda and sustainability targets is to be led by researchers at the Universities of Strathclyde and Dundee.
Design HOPES (Healthy Organisations in a Place-based Ecosystem, Scotland) has been awarded one of four £4.625million Green Transition Ecosystem (GTE) investments from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of the government-funded UK Research and Innovation
GTEs are large-scale projects that focus on translating the best design-led research into real-world benefits. Capitalising on clusters of design excellence, GTEs will address distinct challenges posed by the climate crisis. including, but not limited to, realising net-zero goals. GTEs are the flagship funding strand of the £25million Future Observatory: Design the Green Transition programme, funded by the AHRC and delivered in partnership with the Design Museum.
The project aims to exploit the potential of design-led thinking, making and acting to tackle multifaceted health delivery and net-zero challenges efficiently. It will generate tangible outcomes in innovative methods, products, services and policies that promote sustainability relevant to buildings and land, travel, care, communities and digital design, including toolkits, blueprints, prototypes and storytelling.
The two-year project will also foster green enterprises and businesses to advance the transition to a more equitable and sustainable future.
‘As well as supporting homes and businesses to become more energy efficient, we are determined to support public organisations such as the NHS to do so too, said the minister for energy efficiency and green finance, Lord Callanan. ‘By designing and developing products to help make the NHS more sustainable, today’s project will further support our ambitious action on climate change. And by working closely with patients and the public, the project will also help ensure their views and experiences are front and centre in our transition to a cleaner, more secure energy system.’
The collaborative initiative will be led by co-directors Professor Paul Rodgers of the University of Strathclyde and Professor Mel Woods of the University of Dundee, with researchers from Heriot-Watt University, Abertay University, the University of the Highlands and Islands, and the University of Edinburgh, industry partners and public sector stakeholders.
Design HOPES will also partner with several NHS boards across Scotland, the Scottish government and V&A Dundee, and will include diverse patient and public representation in its aim to become an
‘This is a tremendous opportunity for design-led research to make a real impact and deliver positive change in response to the significant green-transition challenges we face in health and social care contexts,’ said Professor Rodgers, of Strathclyde’s Department of Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management. ‘The outputs of this research will generate new research methods, novel inter- and multi-disciplinary collaborative creative partnerships, innovative practices and design-led solutions for the academic, industrial and commercial worlds.’
‘There is immense potential for transformative change within the health ecosystem using environmentally conscious design,’ said Professor Woods. ‘This research will empower the next generation of design researchers through skills development, creative partnerships and public engagement. Design HOPES will tackle multifaceted health-delivery challenges to rapidly realise a more inclusive, sustainable and impactful approach to innovation in order to meet urgent green-transition goals.’
‘Design is a critical bridge between research and innovation. Placing the individual act of production or consumption within the context of a wider system of social and economic behaviour is critical to productivity, development and sustainability,’ said Professor Christopher Smith, executive chair of the AHRC. ‘That’s why design is the essential tool for us to confront and chart a path through our current global and local predicaments, and that’s why AHRC has placed design at the heart of its strategy for collaboration within UKRI. From health systems to energy efficiency to sustainability, these four GTE projects are at the cutting edge of design, offering models for problem solving, and will touch on lives right across the UK.’
‘Design innovation is crucial to the mission of decarbonising our economy and society by 2050, and it is via exceptional design thinking that we can bring human, social and scientific research and innovation together to achieve this,’ said Allan Sudlow, director of partnerships and engagement at the AHRC.
Design HOPES forms part of the wider Future Observatory programme, which fosters collaboration, research and innovation within the design field. Funded by the AHRC in partnership with Future Observatory at the Design Museum, this £25million multimodal investment aims to bring design researchers, universities and businesses together to catalyse the transition to net zero and a green economy.