Pitches and Proposals: Linking Reseach and Commercial Strategies



Design Education Research


  • teaching approaches, learning approaches

One of the central obligations of a post-graduate programme at a university is research. Any research project starts with a research proposal. Therefore one of the central tasks in the training of researchers is mastering the strategies of persuading the overseers of research that the task that the researcher is undertaking is feasible, do-able and worthwhile. To do this act of persuasion the researcher has also to demonstrate that he or she is in all likelihood capable of doing research – this demonstration of competency is built into the proposal. The result of research will be a document like a dissertation.

However, when the purpose of doing the research is not to produce a document containing the findings of research, but to develop a product, process or design that is functional, effective and “sellable,” then the nature of the proposal appears on the surface to take a different direction. However, in essence, as we shall argue, in the latter case the researcher is attempting not to acquire approval to do the research, but to acquire approval from a set organisation to spend their money on the development of such a product, process or design.

Fundamentally, we shall argue, the act of persuasion for acquiring approval (research) and acquiring money (product, process or design development) is extremely similar. Indeed, as we shall demonstrate, the trajectory of the proposal and the trajectory of the “pitch” (the term used to demonstrate competency so that a tender or contract might be awarded) follow very similar research grounded strategies.

We do this to suggest that the central thrust of training researchers at BTech level (4th year level) might point the research project either to the classic research endeavour or to the notion of training candidates to develop effective pitches for contracts – the research strategies are extremely similar. 

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