Research project

Design HOPES

Sustainable design-led innovation for a green transformation of Health Services.

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Start date

October 2023


Design HOPES (Healthy Organisations in a Place-based Ecosystem, Scotland) has been awarded one of four £4.625M Green Transition Ecosystem (GTE) investments from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation which the UK Government funds. 


Green Transition Ecosystems (GTEs) are large-scale projects that focus on translating design-led research into real-world benefits. Capitalising on clusters of design excellence, GTEs address distinct challenges posed by the climate crisis including, but not limited to, realising net zero goals. 

GTEs are the flagship funding strand of the £25M Future Observatory: Design the Green Transition programme, funded by the AHRC and delivered in partnership with the Design Museum, London.

Project summary

The Design HOPES Green Transition Ecosystem (GTE) Hub is a new two-year transdisciplinary research project that exploits the potential of ‘design-led thinking and making’ to innovate and tackle multifaceted health delivery challenges to meet urgent Net Zero goals for a sustainable health and social care system. 

The collaborative initiative is led by Co-Directors Professor Mel Woods of the University of Dundee and Professor Paul Rodgers of the University of Strathclyde, with Dundee researchers Dr Jen Ballie, Fraser Bruce, Sharifa Latter and Dr Chris Lim. Project partners include Heriot-Watt University, Abertay University, the University of the Highlands and Islands, and the University of Edinburgh, V&A Dundee, Scotland’s Design Museum, industry partners, and public sector stakeholders. 

Design HOPES will integrate design practice and diverse participation with NHS Scotland to become an internationally recognised centre of excellence in responding to the climate emergency, evidencing design-led research and its deep engagements with change through green transitions. Design HOPES will also contribute to the body of sustainability-related research and impact spearheaded by the University of Dundee’s newly formed Binks Institute of Sustainability. 

Project description

The impact of climate change on global health is the most significant threat of the 21st Century. Our planet's natural systems are inextricably linked to human health and the climate emergency poses a health emergency that must be addressed. 

The vision of Design HOPES aligns with the NHS Scotland Climate Emergency and Sustainability Strategy and aims to generate tangible outcomes in products, services, and policies that promote sustainability relevant to buildings and land, travel, care, communities, and digital design. Taking an urban living laboratory approach, the project seeks to emphasise prevention, patient empowerment and self-care, eliminate waste, drive lean clinical pathways, and develop low-carbon alternatives across Scotland’s health and social care provision highlighting that “good health and social care is environmentally sustainable care”. 

AHRC Reference Number: AH/Y00373X/1

Project lead

Project team


Heriot-Watt University, Abertay University, the University of the Highlands and Islands, and the University of Edinburgh. Design HOPES will also partner with several NHS Boards across Scotland, the Scottish Government, V&A Dundee, and will include diverse patient and public representation in its aim to become an internationally recognised centre of excellence for the UK.

Logo of institutions involved in project: Abertay University, Carers Scotland, Dress for the weather ,University of Dundee, University of Edinburgh, Heriot Watt University, NHS Golden Jubilee, NHS Tayside, NHS Scotland Assure, University of Strathclyde, V&A Dundee, Wide Blue, UHI, and 4C.