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New research shows Ireland’s design sector accounts for €38bn in exports and 48,000 design jobs – Minister Nash

Year of Irish Design says €20m additional export pipeline generated Nash says “Design must lose its Cinderella status”

The Government initiative to promote the value and reputation of Irish design has delivered significant achievements, according to Business and Employment Minister Ged Nash TD. The announcement was made today (Tues 26th January) at an event during Showcase, Ireland’s International Creative Expo which is taking place at the RDS in Dublin.

The outcomes of Year of Irish Design 2015 (ID2015) as well as new research detailing the value of design in Ireland were published by Minister Nash. ID2015 was a year-long initiative exploring, promoting and celebrating Irish design throughout the country and internationally. It was convened by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI), in collaboration with partner organisations, on behalf of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Enterprise Ireland.

According to the Design and Crafts Council, major outcomes for ID2015 include: 

  • 2,000+ Irish designers showcased through the programme
  • 270+ Irish companies supported to participate in leading international events
  • Export sales pipeline of €20m generated to date through core ID2015 programmes
  • 370+ new design businesses registered in Ireland during 2015
  • 15 new design networks established
  • 670 projects delivered, including 100 internationally, reaching an audience in excess of 1.5 million
  • 80+ corporate and strategic partnerships created including Design Museum (London), V&A (London) and Vitra (Germany)


A study, “Policy Framework for Design in Enterprise in Ireland” commissioned as part of the programme and published today shows that:

  • The Design sector accounts for €38bn in exports or 20% of total exports
  • 48,000 people or 2.5% of the workforce are employed in design roles in Ireland
  • Between 80% and 90% of firms cite the importance of design to innovation, customer service and profit
  • Ireland’s design-sector exports are higher relative to the UK.

Minister Nash said: “ID2015 confirms that design creativity is alive and well in Ireland both at the individual and the business level. But it also tells us that investing in our design capability and performance will yield new export sales, create quality jobs and boost Ireland’s international creative brand. To do so, Government will work with the DCCoI and the design sector to bring design into the heart of enterprise policy and to lose its status as the Cinderella of Ireland’s innovation strategy and action plans.”

Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland said Ireland’s vibrant creative sector is now engaging at a much higher level as a result of the many ID2015 initiatives launched over the last 12 months. Partnerships have been established between the design and the business communities, creating opportunities for collaborations going forward. A great example of this is the ID2015 International Trade Fund which supported 40 companies during 2015, resulting in new exports in excess of €13.5 million to date, out of the total pipeline of €20m. We now need to maintain momentum in order to reap the benefits of ID2015 and ensure supports are in place for the ongoing development of the design sector, the scale and significance of which is reflected in the initial findings of the research study undertaken. We have so many design-focused companies here in Ireland that have the ambition and capability to compete and win in competitive international markets.”

Minister Nash said the Government was already committed to pursuing concrete actions on design under the 2016 Action Plan for Jobs, including:

  • Strengthening Ireland’s design capability and performance through Enterprise Ireland and DCCoI supports such as Regional Collaboration Funds, Start-Up Funds, International Trade Promotion, Clustering initiatives, Technology Gateways, Incubator initiatives and regional and sectoral networks
  • Exploiting opportunities for Ireland to win EU design collaboration funding
  • Expanding the ‘Design 4 Growth’ Initiative launched as part of ID2015 and led by Dublin City Local Enterprise Office, bringing small firms and designers together.
  • Continued promotion of Irish design through our Embassies abroad and through Enterprise Ireland’s export promotion activity
  • Enterprise Ireland will work with DCCoI in promoting design thinking to their clients as a strategic element of business management
  • The Government’s Future Skills Group will look at current provision of design skills and scope out future skills needs

“We need to build on the legacy of ID2015 and these actions will maintain the momentum created by the year of Irish Design. I believe there is huge potential to grow both employment and exports in businesses that embrace design as a core function of their enterprise. We also have the opportunity to further cement Ireland’s reputation as a source of quality design,” Minister Nash concluded.


For more information contact Design & Crafts Council of Ireland +353 56 776 1804

Notes for Editors

The new study, “Designed in Ireland: Policy Framework for Design in Enterprise in Ireland” is available at Policy Framework For Design in Enterprise in Ireland

The research project was led by DJEI in collaboration with ID2015/DCCoI, Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and IDA.

The aim of Irish Design 2015 (ID2015), which emerged as an idea from the Global Irish Economic Forum in 2013, was to bring visibility to Ireland’s dynamic design businesses, supporting them in trading in competitive foreign markets and ultimately creating jobs at home. The programme has seen Irish design and designers being celebrated and promoted both at home and around the world in order to drive job creation, grow exports and increase competitiveness.

ID2015, which is part of the government’s Action Plan for Jobs, was convened by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI). Highlights of the achievements of ID2015 initiative include:

  • Over 670 projects have been delivered in Ireland and internationally, including core exhibitions, trade shows, design weeks, architecture biennials, fashion weeks, embassy events, design innovation fund events and international trade fund events
  • Over 100 events and projects have taken place internationally, with 30 events taking place at Irish embassies worldwide
  • 2,000+ designers have been showcased and 270+ Irish companies have been supported to attend international events
  • The work of Irish designers has had a presence in 23 countries worldwide
  • 7,800+ designers have received training
  • 1,600+ business professionals have received training
  • 370 new designers/companies registered in Ireland in 2015
  • Export sales pipeline of €20m generated to date through core ID2015 programmes alone, including over €13.5m resulting from the ID2015 International Trade Fund
  • 80+ corporate partners and sponsors Strategic partnerships have been developed with leading design organisations and venues around the world including Design Museum (London), V&A (London) and Vitra (Germany)

ID2015 events nationally and internationally have attracted an audience in excess of 1.5 million.

  • 100k+ international tourists attended ID2015 events in Ireland.
  • Over 13,000 schoolchildren engaged in design education programmes across the country