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There are a number of ways to engage with the Centre and experience the value of an inclusive design approach. A traditional route is our year-long research engagement where an RCA graduate employed by the Centre conducts a deep-dive people-centred design project.

Research Associates Programme

The Helen Hamlyn Research Associates Programme focuses on innovation through the collaborative work of new design graduates from the Royal College of Art. It explores how people-centred design methods and practices can create new knowledge, new ideas and new opportunities for business.

The programme takes new and recent Royal College of Art design graduates and teams them with industry or voluntary sector partners to work on socially inclusive design briefs related to the Centres four spaces: Age & Diversity, Healthcare, Inclusive Design for Business Impact and Inclusive Design for Social Impact.

Since it started in 1999, the Helen Hamlyn Research Associates Programme has built an impressive track record of partnership with industry and the voluntary sector, working with more than 200 organisations worldwide.

Research Associates are funded jointly by external partners, who set the briefs and participate in projects, and by the centre, which manages the programme and draws in expertise from the Royal College of Art’s network of design and technical expertise

The Research Associates are selected from a range of disciplines including architecture, product design, design engineering, communication design and vehicle design.

The Programme runs in four phases – Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver – over one calendar year, typically from October to September but this can be tailored to suit the project partner timeline.

Project outcomes are finalised in collaboration with the project partner, and the work is presented at various academic and public-facing events, exhibitions and conferences, including the annual Helen Hamlyn Symposium and exhibition in the Royal College of Art galleries in September, as part of the annual London Design Festival.

For Royal College of Art design graduates, the scheme offers the chance to further develop an existing idea or project in a live context, or spend some further time at the College as a member of staff developing new skills and ideas with a real-world partner.

See Research Projects here

Other project pathways

Other ways to partner with the Centre include:

  • Short pathfinder projects lasting up to six months to conduct initial investigation into an idea
  • Design sprints with Centre staff and RCA students focusing on a particular topic to spark innovation
  • Partnering on academic bids leaning on our inclusive design research capability
  • Working with the public and private sectors to provide customer-centred research and design expertise
  • Bespoke and open workshops and training sessions in Inclusive Design, Design Thinking and Creative Leadership
  • Conference, workshop and event support and partnership
  • Keynotes, interviews and platform presentations on a range of topics
  • Thought leadership via articles for mainstream and academic publication
  • Membership for advisory boards, review panels and academic or industry-facing committees
  • Online, open-source resources from publications to tools such as www.designingwithpeople.org


HHCD Design Sprint, 2018 (photo: Sarah Hibbert)

Pathfinder Projects

How can we partner to help you scope new innovation and market opportunities in a way that is people-centred, creatively leading and future-focused?

Academic Collaborations

Academic collaboration is a fundamental part of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, leading to cutting edge research outputs and knowledge exchange.
Inclusive Design and Creative Leadership workshop for Newton Business School, Adam Hollingworth (July 2019)

External Education

Our External Education programme offers bespoke courses, workshops and modules in three areas: Inclusive Design, Design Thinking and Creative Leadership. We offer training, teaching and professional development for business, government, academia and the third sector.
Executive education

Thought Leadership

The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design shares its knowledge through a variety of channels to provide thought leadership in the field of inclusive design. As the originator of the term ‘inclusive design’ it has been the go-to source of cutting edge developments in this space for over thirty years. Ongoing development of knowledge occurs through several channels, including live projects, industry and academic collaboration, executive education, policy intervention, public promotion and publication.
Include conference 2019, Detroit (photo: Rama Gheerawo)

Events and Conferences

The Centre leads, and looks to partner, different types of events including workshops, lectures, forums and conferences nationally and internationally.

Ask a question

Get in touch to find out more about partnering and collaboration

Email us at
[email protected]
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