Personal profile

Research interests

Mark's research is about the practices of design that enable multidisciplinary groups to work creatively together to address stubborn and complex challenges in pursuit of positive change. Specifically, through my research I have helped shape the development of the new field of multidisciplinary innovation practice and pedagogy, and demonstrated how design-led, enquiry-based, cooperative learning develops new knowledge and meaning at the intersection of disciplinary boundaries. He believes that whatever form a designed output takes, it is a manifestation of synthesised knowledge crystallised as a version of certainty at the moment of its completion. Furthermore, that synthesised knowledge is a crystallisation of the multiple compromises, creatively made in the artistry of reaching that temporal certainty. 

The unique, experimental and innovative Master’s programme in Multidisciplinary Innovation programme that Mark established capitalises on this concept of design as knowledge creation. 

As a pragmatic academic, his approach has been an entirely integrated one and this is evidenced by his creation of an Integrated Academic Practice (IAP) model. With this he established and leads environments that enable high quality authentic, cooperative, enquiry-based learning and excellent practice-based research undertaken through business engagement operating at the heart of the research/teaching nexus.

Employing this IAP model, he has led collaborations with multiple organisations including Unilever, Mars, Philips and Herman Miller as well as many SMEs, start-ups and charities. These collaborations allow the academic team to develop and deploy new knowledge regarding the role of design within enterprises whilst simultaneously affording students the opportunity to learn through addressing real-world issues that really matter to the partner organisation.

Mark has worked in Higher Education for more than 20 years having previously spent ten years leading design and development projects in the Aerospace industry where he worked on advanced passenger and business jet concepts as well as designing bespoke private jet interiors. He has also led a small design consultancy business. A highlight of his early consultancy career was as part of the design team that designed the best-selling ‘Little Professor’ for Texas Instruments!

He supervised a Knowledge Transfer Partnership embedding Service Design methodology within Age UK Newcastle which won the Research Councils of UK Knowledge Base Impact Award in 2013. He has led the School of Design’s Cultural Partnership with the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) of which he is a Fellow. He is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He has contributed to the Pure Insight Innovation Leaders programme delivering on the subject of ‘Smart Failing’ to delegates from companies such as Mars, Pepsico, Telefonica O2, Astra Zeneca, Birds Eye, Coca Cola, Carlsberg, Philips and GSK.

Through his Integrated Academic Practice approach, over the past decade, Mark has worked, with some 70+ different companies across 3rd, public and private sectors. These have included BBC, Philips, Mars, Bower and Wilkins, Unilever, Age UK, Northumbrian Water Group, Fendor, NCVS, Berghaus, Northumbria Police, Sonoco Alcore, Elddis and the Parking Appeals Tribunal to name but a few.

Over a decade of working in partnership with Unilever, characterises the value of this sort of unique research and educational partnership:

Mark is interested in the role of the designer as orchestrator, facilitator and translator within multidisciplinary innovation teams. He is particularly interested the role of education in this regard. He is concerned with developing knowledge around and approaches to design and innovation practice and education with reference to organisational settings with a particular emphasis on multidisciplinary activism and the role of the designer/design approaches in facilitating innovation in teams of ‘non-designers’. His work is involved with pedagogical approaches to broad spectrum design activity ranging from service and system design through brand strategy to artefact.

As Northumbria’s Principle Investigator in both phase 1 and phase 2 of the AHRC/ERDF/ACE funded c.£6m collaborative research programme Creative Fuse North East programme, Mark has employed his Integrated Academic Practice approach to enable post graduate innovation students to act as co-investigators in developing and deploying innovation readiness workshops with regional small businesses.

Mark sees value in design education for ‘non-designers’ recognising the critical importance of establishing creative confidence as a key employability attribute. To this end, he is also an active co-investigator in the €1m EU funded Global Entrepreneurial Talent Management 3 programme (, through which he is exploring the role of designerly pedagogies in preparing graduates, outside design disciplines, for jobs that don’t yet exist.


Mark Bailey is Professor of Design-led Innovation and Head of Design Research and Knowledge Exchange. 

His research is interested in the facilitatory role of design to promote the co-creation of new knowledge and understanding in complex, multidisciplinary situations. Taking an integrated academic practice approach he has created environments and approaches that enable students to learn whilst working as co-researchers engaged in authentic, research-enriched, and enriching, education and knowledge exchange.

Mark established the Responsible Design Innovation Practice research group, a community of practice which brings together academics from across Northumbria’s School of Design and Newcastle Business School, alongside researchers and students from the unique MA/MSc Multidisciplinary Innovation (MDI) programme which he wrote, led and has overseen since its launch in 2008. Through this group he has secured, since 2013, over £1.3m Research Council and contract research funding and delivered strategic innovation support to around 90 external enterprises ranging from start-up charities to Fortune 500 global corporations. With the group he has published extensively on design-led responsible innovation practice and education.

He has recently been Northumbria University's academic lead in a c.£6m collaboration with the four other North East universities: Creative Fuse North East. This work is focused on developing multidisciplinary innovation capability and capacity amongst the region's Creative Cultural Digital and IT sectors. He has also led a British Council-funded partnership with the American University of Armenia to develop design-led enterprise education in the country. This work has resulted in Bailey and his team authoring Enterprise education Policy recommendations for the Armenian Prime Minister and the Ministry of Education and Science.

Bailey is co-investigator in an EU-funded Horizon 2020, project, Global Entrepreneurial Talent Management 3 (GETM3), involving a consortium of European and South Korean universities working in partnership with employers to explore mismatches in the alignment of entrepreneurial graduate expectations with those of employers, and to consider the role that universities might play in bridging the gap. Now in its second phase (as GETM4), the consortium has expanded to include 18 partners in 9 countries including Chile, Kenya and North Macedonia, and Bailey is leading the Higher Education Innovations workstream.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education

Education/Academic qualification

Design Studies, DPhil, Supporting Knowledge Creation in Design-Led Multidisciplinary Education, Northumbria University

Award Date: 31 Mar 2021

Design Studies, MA

30 Jun 201531 Dec 2099

Award Date: 30 Jun 2015

Industrial Design, BA (Hons)

30 Jun 198831 Dec 2099

Award Date: 30 Jun 1988


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