Programmes like Spark matter, as the gap between idea and reality is hard to bridge.

Sarah Thelwall, Strategist and Consultant in the Creative Industries

Overview

Design Council Spark is a support and funding programme designed to help you turn your bright idea into a commercially successful product.

The programme offers a unique opportunity to connect with design industry experts to gain valuable knowledge and insights into all aspects of design, including product development, branding, manufacturing, marketing and business planning.

What makes Spark different?

Up to 15 finalists are selected onto our 16 week programme, receiving one-to-one mentoring with specialists in a variety of fields as well as 5 core workshops lead by a team of Design experts. Finalists gain access to Design Council Spark network and extensive community of past alumni.

Once accepted onto the programme finalists receive an initial sum of £15,000 to help develop their product, as well as the opportunity to pitch in front of an investment panel to gain further funding to fast-track their product into market. 

Register your interest

Register your interest to receive news and be the first to hear about the next application date.

Register

What we are looking for

Design Council Spark is looks to turn bright ideas into brilliant products to improve the lives of others in the following areas: 

How it works

The Spark Journey

A bright idea.  

We look for bright product ideas that are at a sketch, prototype or planning stage. 

Apply.

We want to know more about you, your idea and the plans for your product in the future. 

Make the shortlist.

The Spark team will notify shortlisted applicants to offer them a position in Design Camp, where you will be introduced to the programme and meet other shortlisted applicants. If you are unsuccessful, the team will give the option to receive personal feedback.

Design Camp.

Design Camp is an intensive 2-day boot camp, where we help you to refine your product idea and pitch for a place on the Spark programme.

Spark

Up to 15 finalists will be selected to join the 16 week Spark programme, which is designed to help you grow your idea and develop a business plan. The program delivers a series of workshops lead by specialist design experts, one-to-one mentoring and a £15,000 grant to assist with product development.

Pitch for the Spark Award.

On completion of the programme all finalists will pitch their product ideas to an investment panel for the opportunity to receive further funding. 

Brightest Sparks announced.

Up to five products will be awarded a share of £200,000.

Make a difference.

On completion of the programme, all finalists join the Spark alumni community with access to and support from the Design Council’s world-class network. 

Design Council Spark discovers some of the UK's brilliant product ideas and provides the connections, support and funding to bring them to life.

Terry Tyrrell, Design Council Chairman

How you contribute to Spark

Design Council Spark is unique in that we do not ask for any equity from your product. Instead, in exchange for the support provided, finalists contribute a small percentage of their product’s sales to support the next round of successful Spark finalists on their product endeavour.

Meet the Spark finalists 2017 Meet the Spark 2017 finalists and hear all about the ideas that saw them selected for Design Council's Spark product innovation programme. Meet the Spark 2017 finalists and hear all about the ideas that saw them selected for Design Council's Spark product innovation programme.

Feature — 18/07/2017

Mentors and Specialists

Design Council has a network of specialists and mentors which are invited to all networking events, workshops and one-to-one sessions. They provide guidance through the programme as well as offer knowledge, insights and access to contacts to help you progress through your Spark journey.

Find out more

For more information about the programme, contracts, intellectual property, funding, benefits and more, please read our detailed FAQs

Advice & news

Growth: Creating a sustainable design concept for the mass market We spoke to Bike and Begun to discuss how Spark helped them to turn Growth into something that could be mass-produced, while still staying true to its sustainable nature. How Spark helped turn Growth into something that could be mass-produced, while still staying true to its sustainable nature.

Feature — 01/06/2017

Why designing for Arthritis makes commercial sense The Spark Arthritis Research UK challenge represents not only a huge market, but an opportunity to design with empathy. The Spark Arthritis Research UK challenge represents not only a huge market, but an opportunity to design with empathy.

Feature — 16/12/2016

What does it take to become a Spark product innovator? Design Council is searching for stand-out product ideas for the 2017 Spark programme. Find out what it take to become a Spark finalist. Design Council is searching for stand-out product ideas for the 2017 Spark programme. Find out what it take to become a Spark finalist.

Feature — 01/12/2016

Rockit: On landing a market success The story of the scientist, the teacher and the fireman who turned sleepless nights into a brilliant commercial opportunity. The story of the scientist, the teacher and the fireman who turned sleepless nights into a brilliant commercial opportunity.

Feature — 17/11/2016

Spark 2016 awardees announced! A share of up to £200,000 has been awarded to four Design Council Spark 2016 finalists A share of up to £200,000 has been awarded to four Design Council Spark 2016 finalists

News — 20/09/2016