Design and Translational Research: A Framework to Assess the Commercial Potential of Pre-Revenue Design Research Projects in Australia

Kieran James John, Rowan Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article unpacks the authors’ roles as a designer, design researcher, and business strategist in translational medical research. Translational medical design is presented as a responsibility of the university to assist researchers to
leverage fundamental research to create interventions that have a real impact in the community. The article makes an inherent link between translation and the notion of responsibility, suggesting an overarching directive to move research
outcomes from fundamental discovery to interventions that help people in the world. To distinguish the role of design as distinct from other translational disciplines, we recognise and position the end-user at the epicentre of an integrated, codesign process, a process that connects complex networks of researchers and industry practitioners, with clinicians and patients. Through design research, designers act to derive potential interventions from unmet clinical needs in the community. Additionally, through applied practice-based research designers identify opportunities for intervention in the world outside the lab. Yet, there is a gap in how we determine which clinical needs and interventions have the highest likelihood of making it to market. Therefore, this article highlights the challenges in the commercial translation of fundamental research in the context of the Australian University System. A framework is proposed to assist design researchers to assess the commercial potential of medical research projects. The framework improves the direction of limited internal funding to projects with the highest likelihood of producing commercially viable, feasible, and desirable outcomes. The article establishes the translational designer as a key competency positioned between traditional and nontraditional research activities. It recognises the designer’s need to identify projects of broader translational value and to communicate the impact that design methodologies can have on commercial research translation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-24
Number of pages14
JournalThe International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • design
  • translation
  • commercialisation
  • medical
  • design framework

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