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Institution of Engineering Designers elects Sir George Cox to honorary president

20 September 2010

Sir George Cox began his career as an aeronautical engineer, and became both a senior corporate executive and a successful entrepreneur in the information technology industry. His most recent career has included serving as director general of the Institute of Directors and chairman of the Design Council.

A passionate and vocal advocate of the importance of design and of making greater use of the nation’s creative skills, he was the author of the
Cox Review, which looked at what could be done to get greater creativity into British goods and services. The recommendations included rolling out a programme to engage more small businesses in design and the introduction of multi-disciplinary initiatives within universities.

The setting up of Design London – the joint venture between the Business School and Engineering Faculty at Imperial College, and the Royal College of Art – came about as a result of the report.

Sir George sits on the board of NYSE Euronext (the global group of leading stock exchanges) in New York, and is a director of Shorts in Belfast. He is the next pro-chancellor and chair of council at Warwick University.

Sir George believes making greater use of design is key to the economic prosperity of the nation. “We are in competition for the highly skilled jobs in the world. There is nothing we can do cheaper than anyone else. If we cannot get better at harnessing our ingenuity, we’ll end up a theme park, showing people around the Tower and the Palace,” he said.

He also claims that design can help solve many of the challenges facing health, transport, energy, and a sustainable way of life. “You cannot solve any of these issues simply by throwing resources at them; they need new thinking. The important point is that they are solvable.

On his election to president of the IED, he says: “This is such an exciting time for design, and with the prospect of a royal charter coming up, a crucial time for the Institution. We have a continuing challenge to get the nature and significance of design better understood. My only reservation is that I have a very hard act to follow. It would be difficult to think of a more energetic or eloquent spokesman for design than Geoff Kirk.”

Geoff Kirk was chief design engineer (civil aerospace) for Rolls-Royce.

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