Responsible Design Innovation

Research Group

The Northumbria University Responsible Design Innovation research group is a multidisciplinary education, research and knowledge-exchange community of practice dedicated to making a positive difference in the world, by design.

Our mission is to unleash the creative power of disciplinary collaboration with the help of design thinking and practice to drive research, generate ideas, demonstrate possibilities and shape a better future whilst foregrounding a positive social conscience about potential implications and consequences of change. The group acts as a hub for interdisciplinary collaboration across the university and with regional, national and global partners spanning sectors and scales.

We engage researchers, learners and external partners together in design-facilitated, practice-based research that addresses complex matters of concern[1] through design-led Responsible Innovation practices[2]. We describe this process as ‘integrated academic practice’.[3] By this approach, we contribute to a wider agenda where research that delivers social and/or economic impact is highly valued whilst simultaneously delivering high-quality, relevant and authentic learning.

We work with our external partners on three key fronts which we define as the ‘value frames’[4] of our delivery:

  • to co-create their responsible enterprise strategy
  • to liberate organisational creativity;
  • to capitalise on creative opportunities that leverage positive strategic change.

As we move forwards, our cross-cutting Responsible Innovation approach is focussed on three themes: Design for Social Justice, Design for Behaviour Change, and Design for Enterprise Innovation.


[1] Spencer, N. and Bailey, M., 2020. Design for Complex Situations: Navigating ‘Matters of Concern’. International Journal of Design, 14(3), p.69.

[2] Bailey, M., Spencer, N., and Sams, P. (2016) ‘What on Earth is Responsible Innovation Anyway? – Making it Happen’ in Bohemia, E. et al (Eds.) DS 83: Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE16), Design Education: Collaboration and Cross-Disciplinarity. Strathclyde: The Design Society Institution of Engineering Designers, pp. 234–239

[3] Bailey, M. and Smith, N. (2016) ‘Making it Work; Integrated Academic Practice’ in E. Boya (Ed.) Proceedings of 20th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference; Inflection Point: Design Research Meets Design Practice. Boston: The Design Management Institute, pp. 2346­–2363

[4] Bailey, M., Spencer, N., Smith, N., Knott, C., Aftab, M. and Sams, P. (2018) ‘Framing Strategic Value through Design-led Innovation Practice’ in Marjanović, D. et al (Eds.) DS92: Proceedings of the DESIGN 2018 15th International Design Conference. Glasgow: The Design Society, pp. 1781–1792