Encouraging companies to incorporate design in their manufacturing strategy is the aim of Cardiff Institute's innovative Design Engineering Research Centre.
Focusing on helping industry to create products, it also offers advice on technology transfer in the areas of product development, engineering and manufacturing.
Many small and medium-size Welsh businesses are already taking advantage of its facilities. For it houses the principality's two main design orientated organisations, the Welsh Design Advisory Service and the Rapid Prototyping Unit.
The former provides free advice on all aspects of design to industry and education. While the latter helps companies reduce costs by developing prototype products electronically.
Most of the centre's research is done in partnership with small businesses.
Robert Brown, the centre's director said: "For example, many companies have difficulty in choosing materials for new products. We are, therefore, working with them to develop a plastics selection guide. In partnership with Brunel University and industry, we are creating an anthropometric database."
This will detail the physical strengths, dimensions and abilities of various population groups. Therefore, designers will be able to ensure that products can be handled by elderly and disabled people as well as the general population.
"This database is a first - this information is not readily accessible to designers at present," said Professor Brown.
Businesses are well aware that good design gives them a competitive edge in the marketplace. It is for this reason that the centre is developing design tools and methodologies that will help them to create new products more effectively.
But the centre's role is not limited to sprucing up industry. "Part of the Welsh Design Advisory Service's remit covers education," said Professor Brown. "Specialist seminars are held for teachers to raise their awareness of design and to alert them to the changes in industrial practice."