In 2004 EMDA commissioned a comprehensive investigation of the design industry in Leicestershire. The report by Trends Research determined that Leicestershire has the largest cluster of design industry practitioners in the UK outside London.

The research identified that the cluster encompasses 780 companies 70% of whom employ fewer than 10 staff and that increased collaboration between these companies should assist wealth creation and lay the foundations for increased export activity.

The 780 companies are spread across 15 design industry sectors as follows

  • Advertising
  • Publishing
  • Marketing
  • Graphic Design
  • New Media
  • Design Consultancy
  • Fashion & Textiles Design
  • Product & Industrial Design
  • Packaging Design
  • Display Design
  • Exhibition Design
  • Retail & Interior Design
  • Environment & Landscape Design
  • Urban Design & Town Planning
  • Architecture

The Design Leicestershire project is led by Loughborough University, funded by Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council and supported by De Montfort University, the University of Leicester, UK Trade and Investment and a broad range of private sector partners.

The aim of Design Leicestershire is to achieve the following:

Profile Building

To build the profile of Design Leicestershire on a local, national, and internationl level, working with UKTI and other agencies on a forward strategy to take Leicestershire design businesses into targeted export markets.


To encourage a climate for collaboration between design companies, increasing business activity through partnership and co-operation to provide a platform for business exchange and knowledge sharing.


To publish the Design Leicestershire book profiling the capacity of the Leicestershire and Rutland design industry. The book will feature world-class examples of work from each of the fifteen design sectors and the three Leicestershire universities.


To improve communication between Leicestershire design companies and the three universities, to share innovations knowledge and to contribute to the development of graduate and post graduate vocational skills.