Times are tough for small and medium-sized businesses. But according to the Design Council there are many ways struggling manufacturers can use design to become more competitive. This week, the Design Council has launched a new road show that will travel the country offering advice on how small and medium-sized businesses can use design to boost sales, protect jobs and compete in the tough economic climate.

Starting next week in Nottingham and continuing around the country during February and March, the road show is aimed at persuading small and medium sized manufacturing firms that subsidised mentoring programmes, offered by the Design Council can make a real difference to a business's bottom line.

One such opportunity, the Design Council's business mentoring programme, Designing Demand, is a service that works with SMEs (small and medium enterprises) to develop a design-led project with the power to transform their business. The programme has mentored some 650 SMEs in recent years and according to the Design Council, a recent independent evaluation showed that businesses can expect, typically, over £25 return on investment for every pound invested in design. The initiative is supported by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which provides a 50 per cent subsidy towards the cost to businesses wishing to join the programme.

For details of the events taking place, including free interactive workshops and opportunities for one to one consultations visit the Design Council website.