Wed, Jan 18, 2006 - Page 11 News List

UK designers looking to work with Asian makers

COOPERATION A British delegation was in Taipei to encourage Taiwanese firms to tap into the UK's vast pool of design resources and promote brand development

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The British design community is on the lookout for opportunities to work with Asian firms to bring their products to international markets, and a handful of Taiwanese companies have expressed an interest in such cooperation, an official from UK Trade and Investment said yesterday.

"We are talking to a few Taiwanese firms hoping to tap into the talent pool of UK design resources, and four consumer electronics original equipment manufacturing companies have shown interest," Christine Losecaat, a creative industries adviser with the British promotions unit, said at a press briefing yesterday in Taipei.

UK Trade and Investment is a government organization that helps UK companies engaged in overseas trade and foreign businesses that are focused on the UK market.

A delegation visited Taiwan yesterday under the auspices of the British Trade and Cultural Office. It included members from a public relations firm, Firefly Communications, as well as the design house Tangerine and Factory Design.

Losecaat refused to reveal details about the Taiwanese companies they have talked to, except to say that they were keen to work with the British design community to pave the way for developing their own-brand business in the future.

The delegation also wants to attract local companies to set up design centers in the UK, as there are currently none from Taiwan. This is one of the delegation's objectives, aside from trying to secure local customers to work with them.

"Taiwanese design is ahead of China, but lags behind Japan and South Korea. They are aggressive in design and know the aesthetic skills well, but they need to incorporate consumer experiences into brand building," said Peter Tennent, managing director of Factory Design, whose list of clients includes British Airways, Ford Motor Co, Motorola Inc and Singapore Airlines.

While Taiwanese companies excel in consumer electronics manufacturing, Tennent pointed out that business risks are getting higher due to evolving product specifications and shorter product time-to-market.

"They will need to specifically enhance product design, marketing and public relations to retain competitiveness," he said.

The UK has contributed to the design of reputable products such as the iPod digital music player, as well as attracted overseas companies, including Samsung Electronics Co, Nokia Ojy, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB and Yamaha Motor Co, to set up their design centers there.

"The British design community is ahead of other countries and their designs are evolving fast as a business tool," he said.

The UK delegation, which stopped by Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong before coming to Taipei, left for Seoul last night.

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