A new institute based at Glasgow School of Art is "a place of great surprises" that will help Scottish companies sharpen their competitive edge, Finance Secretary John Swinney said last week.

Speaking at the opening of the Institute of Design Innovation at GSA's temporary base at Skypark in Glasgow's Finnieston district, Swinney praised the new body as a "fantastic resource" and urged Scottish companies and public-service providers to use the new institute to "ensure the sustainability of public services - and stimulate further opportunities for economic growth in Scotland".

Directed by Professor Irene McAra-McWilliam, who is also head of GSA's school of design, the new department builds on a pilot programme at the GSA called Creating Cultures of Innovation, in which design specialists helped companies to develop "innovation spaces" in which to conduct programmes to encourage creativity within their businesses.

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According to Nick Kuenssberg, chairman of the Tayport industrial textile maker Scott & Fyfe, which participated in the pilot, the early results have been "transformative".

Kuenssberg said: "The work helped the company look forward to a cross-cutting partnership between all staff, customers, suppliers and other technology partners to promote a new innovation-led strategy."

McAra-McWilliam said: "There is much talk about the crucial importance of design, creativity and innovation in developing successful businesses and services. The question that is seldom addressed is, 'How do you do that?'

"Through this new institute, the GSA will show clearly how design skills and creative thinking can be embedded in organisation in a sustainable way."

The Institute of Design Innovation will "roll out" the business support programme with IoD Scotland, continue GSA's Scottish Enterprise-funded design support programme, and extend an existing collaboration with the Forres Centre for Design Innovation and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.