Dr Gerard Duff

Dr Gerard Duff



  • Development of two online modules for Masters Level MSc in Management for Engineers with specific focus on: Innovation, design thinking, human centered design, supply chain management and creativity in complex environments.
  • Delivery of various design based modules across all year groups. These include research methods, 2D and 3D modelling, project management, product development & design, human centered design, radical design, design studio 1 and major projects.
  • Teaching support for the delivery of a module on Strategy for International Business.
  • Participated in the development and delivery of a MOOC for Leeds University on the topic of innovation.
    • https://www.mooc-list.com/course/innovation-worlds-greatest-futurelearn
  • Experience in the development and delivery of a number of existing Product design modules, these include Design Studio 1, Major projects and a module that crosses year groups from year 3 to year 2.  
  • Delivery of workshops on creativity and human centered design for Leeds Business School MBA and undergraduate courses.
  • Nominated for positive impact Pro-Deans award for education (2016/17).
  • PhD supervisor [2nd] (2019).

Academic interest groups

  • Member of Institute of Design Robotics and Optimization. 
  • Member of the Centre of Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship group.
  • Member of Teaching and Learning group at Leeds (TALENT).

Industry collaborations and Funded Projects:

  • KTP associate with Try & Lilly and Manchester Metropolitan University (2008 -2010).
  • Innovation Voucher, to develop novel impact absorbing material for use in protective headwear.
  • Case Award PhD with Balfour Beatty and Leeds University Business School (2010 - 2017). 
  • Team member who won a Yorkshire innovation funded project in 2015. The focus was to aid in the identification of opportunities to support R&D of products both internally and through the supply chain for a Yorkshire based SME. (Award: £15K).
  • I led on an ERSC funded discussion between industry and academia. This platform developed and led discussion between both academic and industrial experts under the heading of ‘Dismantling Innovation’ (2011). (Award was £3K). We took a novel (and highly applauded) approach to engage the group on the topic, this can be seen in the following link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cJSjRfFwwk
  • Winner of the TILT fund (£1K) to explore how VR and improve understanding in early concept phase (2017).


  • Program Manager
  • Design Studio 1 Module Leader

Research interests

My research interests are in the areas of innovation, design, management, strategy, product development and design thinking. I am particularly interested in a number of areas:

1. how innovative things are made and what makes them a success 

2. the human centred desing process, where technical decisions are based data collected on the needs and wants on the user. This interest draws me across several schools of study ranging from the social sciences such as management to the school of engineering and the development of technical products.

Research Output:

  • Publications:
    • Strategy Formulation as a Design Science: An Investigation into the Effects of Deterministic and Path-creation Design on the Formulation of a Strategy, (2012).
      • Duff, G. and Pandza, K., 2012, December. Strategy Formulation as a Design Science: An Investigation into the Effects of Deterministic and Path-Creation Design on the Formulation of a Strategy. In European Design Science Symposium (pp. 20-28). Springer, Cham.
    • Reflections on the design, development and delivery of a MOOC. The Fifth International Conference on Design Creativity (2018).
  • Presentations & Invited talks:
    • Presentation title: Increasing student engagement through cross year collaborative projects, Student Education Conference Leeds, (2019).
    • Helping undergraduates improve their understanding of wicked problems through VR; TALENT, (2018).
    • Presentation title: Strategy formulation as a lived experience. British Academy of Management Special Interest Group on Strategy foresight, (2018).
    • Presentation title: A novel way to increase student ownership and engagement in projects through positive social engagement; TALENT, (2018).
    • All Parliamentary Water Industry Guild presentation at the House of Commons. The role academic research can play on understanding how innovation is being practiced in the UK water sector, (2011).
  • Workshops
    • Shock Empathy workshop: exploring empathy skills for designers and non-designers. The 17th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, (2015).
    • Professional Development Workshop at the British Academy of Management on best practice for engaged social science research practices with emphasis on Action Research, (2012).
  • Industry reports
    • Two innovation review documents were presented to my CASE award partner during and post my PhD. These documented the diversity of understanding of what innovation meant across the OpCo and how this was impacting their capacity to achieve their desired level of innovative ability.

As part of a Yorkshire Innovation fund grant (£15K) I developed a series of maps and a report that reflect the understanding of a local SMEs approach to innovation activity. This was based on a series of workshops I lead with the SME and it highlighted a series of misunderstandings between the top level and mid-level management teams in how they were to approach innovation activity and why.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://eps.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • Product Design BSc
  • Masters by Research
  • PHD
  • Diploma in Management

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Student education

I successfully completed a CASE Award PhD conducted in partnership with University of Leeds and the EPSRC.

The main concern of this research study was the formulation of strategy for innovation as it unfolded in real-time and in context. It took a micro perspective and looked at the decision making practices in flight, where not all required information was available in time and decisions had to be made.

The interest in this problem area comes from an innate drive to understand how things are created, whether it is a technical product or a social process. This is highlighted in my back ground, with an undergraduate degree in product design and a research master in process engineering. Both of these degrees function in the cross roads of people and technology with a high degree of uncertainty.

Previously I was a KTP associate. Within this role, I was a product development coordinator for a Small to Medium sized Enterprise (SME) based in the North East. My duties included the development of a range of PPE products as well as design processes for future product development. This not only involved the technical aspects of developing a product, but also managerial issues such as training and development of staff and the development of a culture that was willing to partake innovation.

While undertaking this post I took part in a Diploma in Business Management (completed) and an MSc by research (part time-long distance, completed) focusing on the implementation of a customized design process for a specific SME. This MSc consisted of the compartmentalization of the Quality Functional Deployment (QFD) process so that an SME, with limited resources, could utilize specific ‘rooms’ of the process that were seen as a means to improve on existing weaknesses highlighted in current R&D practices.

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute of Design, Robotics and Manufacturing
  • Design sciences

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>