Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland is the state agency responsible for the development of Irish companies. It provides a range of supports to meet client business needs and works with clients to help them use innovation and design as an integral part of business development.



InterTradeIreland is the only organisation which has been given responsibility by both Governments to boost North/South economic co-operation to the mutual benefit of Northern Ireland and Ireland. By encouraging better use of our collective resources we help to expedite trade and business growth across the island; create an environment to make it easier to do business and increase the competitiveness of individual companies and the two economies in the global marketplace. A Study of the Design Services Sector on the Island of Ireland – report produced by InterTradeIreland. February 2009.



Forfás is Ireland’s national policy advisory body for enterprise and science. It is an agency of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Skills in Creativity, Design and Innovation Report published in November 2009.


Design Group, Invest Northern Ireland

Design Group co-ordinates a range of initiatives and programmes to develop design knowledge, skills and capability and provides advice on how to harness design to deliver considerable commercial advantage.


The Centre for Design Innovation (CDI)

The Centre for Design Innovation (CDI) is an initiative of the Institute of Technology Sligo and is funded through the Applied Research Enhancement scheme of Enterprise Ireland.

The CDI conducts research to establish the link between successful companies and their use of design; measure the efficacy of best practices to enable innovation through the use of design and creativity; and identify skill needs and training provisions to make Irish organisations globally competitive through the use of design and innovation. The CDI creates practical tools to embed skills within small and medium-sized enterprises to help them better understand their end customer needs and translate those insights into innovative products and services.

The CDI promotes the findings from the research and case studies to highlight the value design creates in order to recruit companies to engage with the Centre; drive demand within the design industry; and influence policy at a governmental level to increase national competitiveness.

Centre for Design Innovation ITSBIC, Institute of Technology Sligo


Kilkenny Design

In 1949 Professor Thomas Bodkin, in ‘Report on the Arts in Ireland’ (commissioned by the Irish Government) recommended Scandinavia as a model for the development and improvement of Industrial Design in Ireland. More than a decade later, in 1960, the Irish Government gave responsibility to the State body Corás Tráchtála (CTT), The Irish Export Board, for the improvement of standards of industrial design in Ireland. The Irish Export Board commissioned an independent assessment of the position of design in Ireland to be carried out by a Scandinavian team of experts.

As a result the report on “Design in Ireland” was delivered. A ‘version’ of the recommendations was considered and was the basis for the establishment of Kilkenny Design Workshops in 1965. During the late 1960’s / 1970s Kilkenny Design Workshops was largely dependent on State assistance by way of annual grant-in-aid to support its activities. In 1974 the direct link with CTT was ended and Kilkenny Design Workshops came under the direct control of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. By 1980 Kilkenny Design Workshops’ design capabilities and work for the non-craft industries became dominant. Thereafter the activities of Kilkenny Design Workshops fell into four main programmes:

  • their design services provide both consultancy assistance to business organisations in auditing their design requirements and planning corporate design development;
  • they provided practical design and technical support services, to meet the specific needs of industry through their design development
  • they operated an on-the-job training to recently qualified designers provided at the Kilkenny workshop;
  • their design promotion programme was aimed at promoting the concept of good design by way of seminars, exhibitions and awards such as the designer of the year awards.

By the early 1980s the move to achieve full commerciality began – with a target of 1990 for its accomplishment. The Kilkenny Design Workshops Act, (1982) set the authorised share capital of the company at £1 million, of which £500,000 was put into the company before the end of that year. An ill-judged foray into retailing in Dublin and London resulted in disaster. During the period 1982 – 1988 more than IR£1.5 million was spent by the state but to no avail, Kilkenny Design Workshops was
wound up in 1988.


Design Ireland (#1)

A previous Design Ireland operated in the mid 1990s but closed within a few years of its inception.


Design Ireland (#2)

Established in January 2000, the objective of Design Ireland was to inspire and encourage a positive understanding and utilisation of design by all strands of society, in particular business bodies and Governmental agencies, while internationally demonstrating the creative success and vitality of Irish Design. Design Ireland, an initiative of the combined representative bodies of the Irish design community, has been established as a result of the Government review of the Irish design consultancy sector. Design Ireland is the voice of the design industry in Ireland. It’s a business-focused enterprise and encompasses all the design disciplines.

Design Ireland will…

  • Be a strong advocate for good design, demonstrating and creating leadership.
  • Ensure that Government takes responsibility for the asset that is design.
  • Ensure that design is strategic and creative.
  • Promote Irish design both here and overseas.


Donegal Design Directorate (Skillnet)

The aim of the Donegal Design Directorate Skillnet Project is to promote the value of good design in business and to promote Donegal designers/design related businesses. It focused on design in all aspects from strategy and research, through functional and aesthetic design, production processes, branding, marketing, packaging, distribution, etc.


Design Shannon (Skillnet)

Design Shannon offers Ireland a unique experiment in regional action for design and innovation, an experiment which strengthens the competitive basis of the Irish economy. It provides specialist and objective advice as well as bringing together the commercial and public sectors through its work.

The aim of Design Shannon is to provide training that uses design to help capture premium niche markets rapidly and efficiently and to increase the long-term career opportunities and employability of employees in the Design sector of the Shannon region.