Our previous newsletter, sent out last January, focused on two different aspects: on the one hand, a spotlight on the role of the industrial designer as a value-added product developer for businesses, and, on the other hand, an explanation of why offshoring local production to countries maintaining low labour costs no longer suffices for businesses to remain competitive on the local or international scene.
In this newsletter, we have abridged the information in just a few pages to make your reading lighter. Here now are several very recent and pertinent facts obtained from the MDEIE (Ministère du Développement économique, de l’innovation et de l’exportation).
Thus this newsletter will draw a picture of Quebec’s industrial design segment and its real impact on firms that invest in innovation through industrial design.
The Numbers on Industrial Design in Quebec in 2007
Survey conducted for the MDEIE in Spring 2007 with 1,002 Quebec-based manufacturing firms (population: 5,254 businesses)
- 63% (634) of respondents modified, improved and/or developed at least one new product during the last three years. Around 3,310 manufacturing businesses.
- 20.7% (131) of these resorted to an industrial designer. Around 685 businesses.
- 53 businesses employ one or more industrial designers. Around 277 businesses.
- 92 resorted to external designers. Around 482 businesses.
Return on investment in industrial design
Perception of industrial design’s effects from Quebec-based firms that use this service
An Innovative and Prosperous Quebec: Quebec’s Research and Innovation Strategy (MDEIE, 2006)
For International-Scale Competitiveness
The greatest challenge facing Quebec is its competitiveness on the international scene. Research and innovation are Quebec’s chief assets and bona fide allies in developing the advantages required for preserving our social achievements and ensuring our long-term economic prosperity. It is up to us to take up the challenge of excellence in research and innovation.
Supporting Corporate Innovation Through Design
There are almost 3,600 industrial designers in Quebec alone, accounting for 58% of the total number in all of Canada, and Montreal has been designated UNESCO City of Design, which gives it major international recognition. Nevertheless, industrial design is taking a long time to get its foot firmly in the door of Quebec-based businesses, unlike what can be observed in several European countries, especially the Scandinavian countries, as well as Japan and the USA. And yet industrial design is an essential component of the innovation process, and very often the one ingredient that makes or breaks a product in its commercial market.
Design is innovation through creativity:
- Invention is what happens in R & D laboratories.
- Innovation is users’ acceptance of changes that improve their living conditions.
- Design is the force that transforms invention into innovation. (Danish Design Centre)
The most recent documents dealing with innovation in OECD countries (Oslo Manual, 2005) consider design as an integral part of marketing innovations; these are reflected in implementation of a new marketing method involving significant changes in a product’s design, packaging, placement, promotion or pricing. Design also emerges as a strategic component of product (goods and services) innovation.
Since 1994, the Quebec government has been supporting integration of industrial and fashion design in the province’s businesses, in particular through a refundable design tax credit whose appropriation (budgetary cost) for the province is of the order of $15 million/year (estimate for 2006). This credit, which provides a bonus rate of 30% for SMBs and 15% for corporations, has been increased (in the 2005-2006 budget speech) to facilitate contribution from all designers working in corporations, whatever the industrial segment, and pattern makers in the garment and textile segments. In total, this credit benefits almost 1,700 designers and pattern makers as well as almost 770 businesses. Furthermore, the government also supports various design promotion projects.
Here are a few design success stories to come out of Quebec in recent years:
- The Plasticase attaché case, sold in more than 10 million units during the past 20 years;
- Pelican International, which exports 85% of its watercraft and toy production;
- Bombardier Recreational Products, which gained 12 market share points as a result of designing the REV chassis for its new snowmobiles.
To access the complete document, click on the following link: www.mdeie.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/sites/internet/documents/publications/pdf/ministere/strategie_innovationEN.pdf
Current Trends and the Consumer Market’s Future
Globalization and production relocation are making products’ development and life cycles increasingly shorter. Industrial design should henceforth be considered a profitable investment that can even promote sustainable development. At Skerpa Design, we are fully aware of current economic issues and major constraints owing to the Canadian dollar’s rise and the small size of both the provincial and national markets, which force lower production and sales volumes at highly competitive costs.
In more concrete terms, Skerpa Design recently enabled one of its clients to shrink its preliminary manufacturing costs, for fabrication in a Chinese plant, by 20% to 30% depending on the type of product. Skerpa Design made this possible thanks to appropriate actions on the technical and project management fronts.
We also believe that it is always possible for Quebec SMBs to produce locally and for inventors to convert an invention into a profitable, money-making enterprise. However, to do so, they have to innovate and clearly define the particular segment their products should penetrate on the market, be it local or global.
As we can see in the MDEIE document, industrial design is not being harnessed to its full potential. Indeed, there is a vast potential for development of new, original, innovative products right here in Quebec… before any foreign businesses decide to invade our local and international markets.
Any project’s commercial success rests on the project’s development management long before it is brought into production. In addition, it also depends on a market study that analyzes competing products and whether these meet consumers’ needs. However, in the urgency of developing and marketing products ever faster, businesses often forget that most of all, they also have to seduce consumers and make them dream… using the ambassadors of innovative enterprises: the products themselves.
Finally, a growing trend is the emergence of the consumer-designer. Owing to the Internet’s presence, not to say pervasiveness, in their daily lives, consumers have more and more of a decisional impact on what they want and wish… Industrial designers have always been on the lookout for and in tune with consumers’ changing needs.
Newest Developments at Skerpa Design
For any project to succeed, managing it soundly is vital. In our double capacity as industrial creator and project manager, we always make it a point to exercise due diligence as part of every mandate. Additionally, we are privileged to sport among our invaluable multidisciplinary contributors a certified active member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), which makes our services that much more rigorous.
As far as technological processes are concerned, we are now in a position to quicken product development using fast prototyping not just for plastics as is usually the case, but in your choice of material, whether plastic, wood or metal. Not to mention the fact that parts can be as large as 60.96 x 48.26 cm (24 x 19 in), and as high as 50.8 cm (20 in).
These are two more reasons to trust us for your product design and development projects.
Skerpa Design, your source of innovation.
Skerpa Design inc.