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

Sarah Thelwall, Strategist and Consultant in the Creative Industries


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

Over the course of our 16-week programme, we will provide up to 15 finalists with specialist expertise and one-to-one mentoring. Once accepted onto the programme you will receive an initial sum of £15,000 to help you develop your product as well as a chance to pitch for a further share of £200,000. Beyond the programme you will receive a lifelong membership to the Design Council Spark alumni network and access to the Design Council's extensive community.

The deadline for submissions has now passed

The call for entries for Design Council Spark is now closed. 

What we're looking for

This year Design Council Spark is looking to turn bright ideas into brilliant products that address a need in the following areas: 

Product ideas for Arthritis 

In addition to the above categories and following the success of their 2016 partnership, Arthritis Research UK will join Design Council in supporting the 2017 programme. The charity, which invests in treatments and vital support for everyone affected by arthritis, will be looking for innovative product ideas to further support their work to overcome the pain, isolation and fatigue that arthritis can cause. One finalist will be awarded up to £50,000 of the £200,000 funding available if their product has the proven potential to assist those with the condition. 

Meet the Spark inventors 2016 They're improving the way insulin is injected, changing the way we BBQ, and helping babies to sleep – meet the Spark finalists 2016. They're improving the way insulin is injected, changing the way we BBQ, and helping babies to sleep – meet the Spark finalists 2016.

Feature — 24/05/2016

How it works

The Spark Journey

A Bright Idea.  

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


Tell us more about you, your idea and your plans for it.

Make the Shortlist.

We will notify you if you have been selected for Design Camp. Unsuccessful applicants will be signposted to other relevant programmes to progress your idea.

Attend Design Camp.

An intensive 2-day workshop where we will help you refine and pitch your idea for a place on the Spark commercialisation programme.

Design Camp runs on 6 & 7 March 2017.

Become a finalist.

Up to 15 ideas will be selected for our 16-week support programme.

The programme commences on 4 April 2017.

Join the Support Programme.

Develop your idea and business plan through our specialist expertise and bespoke one-to-one mentoring, plus an initial grant of £15,000 for product development.

Pitch for the Spark Award.

On completion of the programme, all finalists will have a chance to pitch to the Design Council investment panel for further funding.

Pitch days take place on the 25 & 26 July 2017.

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 will 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. In exchange for the support provided, participants give a small percentage of their product’s sales to the fund to support more ideas in the future. Successful Design Council Spark applicants benefit from those who have gone before them and enable the same for others who follow.

Find out more

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

Design Council Spark FAQs Have a question about Design Council Spark? The answer is probably here! Have a question about Design Council Spark? The answer is probably here!

Feature — 25/10/2016

Mentors and Specialists

In addition to regular advice from the Spark team, finalists will also be matched with a mentor who will guide you through the programme and provide you with one-to-one mentoring and offer insights, contacts and knowledge to help you progress in the greatest way that you can.  

To get a good idea of the type and calibre of mentors and specialists that you will be matched with this year, meet the mentors and specialists who guided our 2016 finalists.  

The tile of the main showcase

  1. Branding


    From designing for Wolff Olins and O2, to founding their own independent branding and design agencies, our specialists have decades of experience and expertise in brand strategy, protection and trade marking as well as in coaching SMEs and university startups. They know all there is to know about creating iconic products and services and can even help you improve your pitching skills. Meet the Spark 2016 branding specialists and mentors.

    Pauline Amphett

    Pauline is the Director of Brand Guardians, which she co-founded in 1989.

    With her design background and 25 years' experience working with intellectual property, Pauline is well versed in translating IP issues into brand-relevant language and advice, and protecting brands and their trade marks.

    Pauline's approach works exceptionally well when it comes to meeting the challenges that arise from increased international markets, business diversification and new technologies. She works with many IP professionals, lawyers, attorneys and trade mark agents all over the world.  

    Oonagh Comerford

    Oonagh is a service designer at Virgin Care where she is working to improve and innovate frontline healthcare services across the UK.

    Previously, Oonagh worked at the Design Council as a design researcher. In this role, Oonagh specialised in bringing people's insights and experiences into the design and delivery of projects related to public services, social care, public health and youth unemployment.

    Through her career, Oonagh has forged business partnerships with Philips, the NHS and Nominet Trust.

    Yvonne Fusch

    Yvonne is a business growth adviser for Growth Accelerator, an expert adviser in branding and marketing for the Manufacturing Advisory Service.

    Yvonne also founded The Branding Workshop in 2000 in order to relate corporate brand strategies to small and medium-sized businesses. She works with creatives and designers as a mentor and business adviser, and is an energetic speaker on leadership, branding and creativity in commercial and social enterprises.

    Yvonne is also a Design Council Design Associate.

    Markus Hohl

    Markus is the London CEO of award-winning service design agency Hellon, which has offices in Helsinki and London. 

    Prior to this, Markus was Head of Customer Centred Design at O2. In this role Markus introduced a user-led design process for all of O2's UK SME and consumer product portfolio.

    Markus has been creating iconic products and services for the global market for over 20 years. He is also a Design Council Design Associate, for which he is involved in coaching SMEs and university start-ups.

    Iria Lopez

    Iria has a passion for healthcare and designing solutions that are both economically sustainable and also have a social impact.

    Since 2001, Iria has helped organisations such as the Design Council, France Telecom and the World Bank to deliver design-led solutions.

    Iria's background is in psychology and she has also been consulting on business innovation for over 15 years.

    Vicky Mitchell

    Vicky is the Marketing Director at Better All Round, the creators of  Ora – the round kitchen towel now stocked in over 1300 Tesco’s across the UK.

    Prior to Better All Round, Vicky set up Switch Sticks, an award winning walking stick company which sought to do to walking sticks what Swatch had done to watches - make them funky and affordable. Vicky sold Switch Sticks to a US company in 2012.

    Fiona Myles

    Fiona is the Founder of Kin, an independent brand strategy and design company.

    Prior to this, Fiona worked at agencies such as Elmwood, True North and Wolff Olins for over 12 years. Her extensive and impressive list of clients include AstraZeneca, the British Council, Bupa, HS2, Nesta, the Royal College of Art and the RSPCA.

    Fiona has also worked as a Design Associate at the Design Council for more than 10 years, helping to develop the renowned mentoring programmes.

    Kieran O'Connor

    Kieran co-founded the graphic design studio BOB in 2002 after studying at Kingston University and the Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst in Basel, Switzerland.

    Kieran is also a Senior Lecturer in graphic design at Kingston University, and the founder of Kingston’s faculty research unit This is Normal Ltd.

    Katie Reddin-Clancy

    Katie is a performance artist with a versatile career across the entertainment industry as a comedienne, actress, voiceover artist, television presenter, broadcast journalist and writer.

    Katie is now to be found on the London stand-up comedy circuit. In her first year, she won her London heat and performed in the semi-finals of the So You Think You’re Funny competition. Currently, Katie is writing a play and producing her next one-woman show.

    Katie coaches Spark teams to improve their pitching skills.

    Rowena Vestey

    Rowena spent 10 years as design Director of a product design company before setting up her own freelance consultancy.

    She continues to work with SMEs on brand and product development. Rowena has worked with both large, multi-national companies and smaller UK-based firms, including DuPont,Hotpoint and Bosch,in a wide variety of product and business areas. She has provided companies with in-house training for their marketing and sales teams, running workshops and seminars on product, branding and communications.

    In her role as a Design Council Design Associate Rowena works with SME’s and startups, coaching them on product branding and marketing.

    Gemma Willis

    Gemma is a naming consultant with over twenty years’ experience creating original brand names ranging from Centrica for British Gas to Zafira at Vauxhall and most  recently,  Aptis for the British Council. 

    Gemma started her career at Interbrand, before becoming the creative director of naming, futures and innovation at Corporate Edge and then going on to create her own consultancy.  

    Gemma's ability to straddle both the strategic and the creative has given her the enviable ability to establish what name will work best for a new brand - and then think laterally to create an original and fit for purpose name.  

  2. Business planning

    Business planning

    They've launched messaging platforms to rival Facebook, managed corporate finance for Barclays, BP and Mitsubishi, nurtured startups into stunning success stories and have mentored hundred of creative businesses between them. Meet the Spark 2016 business planning specialists and mentors.

    Andy Chapman

    Andy is a group process designer and facilitator, business coach and financial training specialist.

    Andy is also the Co-founder of Change The Conversation, a systems coaching company that works with organisations to help them build more powerful and constructive relationships with all of their stakeholders.

    Prior to this, Andy spent many years working in economic consulting, planning, corporate finance and trading for a range of companies including BP, Mitsubishi Finance, Barclays, Cambridge Econometrics and Williams de Broe.  

    Grant Cleveland

    Grant's entrepreneurial career began in 2006 in South Africa when he started Africa’s largest social network, This mobile-first messaging platform grew to become a Facebook rival in the region, with 88m+ users globally as of last year.

    Grant subsequently worked with a number of top tier London companies and agencies to develop new digital products and propositions, including the launch of Barclaycard’s Quick Tap contactless mobile payments product.  

    Grant is currently the Director at Breakthemold which brings together resources for product creators and manufacturers.  

    Ursula Davies

    Ursula is the Managing Director of Makerversity, a pioneering business which provides space and support to a community of over 50 emerging maker businesses.

    She was previously Operations Director at photofoundation and Programme Lead in the Design Challenges team at the Design Council. She is an expert in setting up and running startup teams with a creative focus.

    James Duguid

    James is an ergonomist, design management consultant and innovation coach.

    Previously, James was a business manager at the Design Council where he established the first nationwide product development service, ‘Innovation NoticeBoard’.

    In 2006 James started his own consultancy which offers his expertise in design management, product development and the protection and conveyancing of intellectual property rights.

    Mark Elliott

    Mark recently set up his own start-up consultancy business, after spending 10 years managing his own businesses.

    Mark has worked with NESTA's Creative Pioneer Program for creative graduate entrepreneurs, and lectures on customer-focused strategy and business start-up in London and Paris. He has worked across a broad spectrum of creative businesses: architecture, service design, fashion and apparel studios as well as companies using creative skills to create a singular product, such as Sugru or Wattson.

    As a business advisor Mark specialises in design thinking methodologies, with a focus on developing physical products with social purpose or within the circular economy.

    Bethany Koby

    Bethany is a mother, CEO, designer, educator and art director interested in creating brands, businesses and experiences that help to imagine a more positive and collaborative future. 

    In 2012 Bethany co-founded Technology Will Save Us – a business dedicated to sparking the imagination of young people using hands-on technology.

    Their beautifully designed DIY Gadget kits and digital resources are the most accessible way for families, young people and educators to make, play and invent with technology.

    Glen Mehn

    Glen is a partner at Bethnal Green Ventures, a role which sees him leading on the design and delivery of the BGV programme.

    Glen spent a decade in Silicon Valley managing IT operations departments, a year in Uganda and Zambia working with early-stage entrepreneurs, and seven years working as a designer.

    Jon Penn

    Jon Penn is an entrepreneur having co-founded Spinning Hat in 2005, Recruit Creatives in 2013, and White Maqui and Hackney Coffee Company in 2015.

    White Maqui is a creative production agency which covers all areas of creative production - from product design to digital design, hand made to mass production and even social media.

    Jon works with startups, agencies and major retailers. 

    Kushal Puri

    As KPMG's High Growth Technology Group assistant manager, Kushal is focused on helping early stage and high growth technology companies thrive and succeed.

    Kushal’s role revolves around advising and helping startups with a broad range of accounting and tax-related matters.

    Kushal also advises on funding options and business plan creation.

    Sarah Thelwall

    Sarah Thelwall is a strategist and consultant in the creative industries and founder of, an online financial management and benchmarking business tool. 

    Sarah regularly works with entrepreneurs across the UK and overseas, coaching on business tools for growth and success. 

    Sarah has over 10 years' experience working with both small creative firms and political sector development bodies such as NESTA, British Council, DCMS and NCGE.  

    Tom Tobia

    Tom is a designer and Co-founder of Makerversity, Europe’s largest co-working space for hardware start-ups as well as a pioneering education programme.

    Tom has led the early-stage development of many products, projects and organisations, mostly with a social, cultural or altruistic angle. He is a mentor and advisor to various business-support programmes including Hub Launchpad, Design Council Challenges and Bethnal Green Ventures.

    Tom is an advisor to the UK Government for education, is a TED speaker and an RSA Design Award winner.

    Annie Warburton

    Annie is Creative Director at the Crafts Council, shaping their work in innovation, business development, exhibitions, research and policy.

    Annie was previously CEO at ArtsMatrix, which coached and mentored hundreds of creative businesses, and Head of Partnerships at Creative Skillset, the creative industries’ skills council.

    Annie is a Fellow of the RSA and an Associate of Newnham College, Cambridge.

  3. Intellectual Property

    Intellectual Property

    They've headed up the IP function at IMB, worked for large international law firms and have been in-house lawyers for small start-ups. They know all you need to know when it comes to designs, brands, and global IP protection strategies. Meet the Spark 2016 IP specialists.

    Roger Burt

    Roger Burt is a European Patent and Registered Trade Mark Attorney.

    Roger started his career as an Intellectual Property Attorney handling IP in semiconductors and related technical areas at IBM. He went onto become Senior Counsel and Head of the IP Function for IBM EMEA where he was responsible for 40 IP attorneys located in the UK Germany, France, Switzerland and Israel.

    Roger is a member of the IBM Virtual Law Firm primarily handing the filing and prosecution of patent applications before the European Patent Office and the UK Intellectual Property Office.

    John Coldham

    John Coldham is a director at international law firm Gowling WLG, a leading firm with a particular reputation for intellectual property (IP) law. 

     John is an experienced solicitor, advising on all types of IP including designs, brands and patents. His priority is to help clients to maximise the return on their investment in their IP, through strengthening their portfolio and strategically enforcing it against infringers. 

    John has advised Dyson, Unilever, Flos and Hasbro, to name but a few.

    Simon Sellars

    Simon is an intellectual property lawyer specialising in designs, brands, and global IP protection strategies.

    Simon has worked in the IP industry for over 12 years, starting off in the patents sector before moving over to focus on the “soft IP” area. Simon has worked at international law firms and as the in-house lawyer for a small start-up, and understands the needs of entrepreneurs and designers at all levels.

    Simon advises a number of high-street names on their design, copyright and brand issues, and enjoys helping people navigate the complex network of legal protections available.

  4. Design for Manufacture

    Design for Manufacture

    They have worked at Rolls Royce, DuPont, Hotpoint and Bosch and are expert advisers for the Manufacturing Advisory Service. They lead multi-disciplinary teams in Japan, Korea and mainland Europe and run their own product design and manufacturing consultancies. Their experience spans the medical, healthcare, nursery, consumer, lighting and industrial product industries among many others. Meet the Spark 2016 manufacturing specialists and mentors. 

    Ben Davies

    Ben is the co-founder of the renowned dementia wellbeing startup, Ode, and is the MD of industrial design consultants, RODD.

    Ben is a user-centred design professional with a track record of helping global brands achieve growth through innovation and design. Ben has an exceptional international profile as an inclusive design advocate, having led a plethora of multi-disciplinary teams across Japan, Korea and mainland Europe.

    Stephen Frazer

    Stephen founded ad manages London design consultancy, Frazer Designers and has worked at the forefront of many well-known consumer and technology product innovations.

    Frazer Designers' products include games for Videomaster, portable computers for Psion and Acer, toys for Hasbro, kettles for Philips, cell phones for NEC and Alcatel, and remote controls for Sky and BT Vision.

    The consultancy’s design methods have evolved over 30 years to meet the need for developing and humanising new product technologies, which include electronic controls, payment terminals, handheld computers, touch panels, appliances and hand tools.

    Peter Fullagar

    Peter Fullager heads the innovation team at Kinneir Dufort where he helps clients to research, innovate, design and develop successful new products and brand experiences.

    Kinneir Dufort is one of the longest established integrated development consultancies in Europe, enjoying an enviable track record of international client success and awards recognition.  

    Peter is a specialist in innovation methods and practice, with a wealth of experience in consumer products and service sectors for clients ranging from large corporations to entrepreneurs.

    Wyn Griffiths

    Wyn is a designer, maker and academic working across the many manifestations of Product Design and Design Education.

    Wyn is a leader of the BA/BSc Product Design course at Middlesex University, Co-director of SMASHfestUK, and heads the collaborative international ‘Fuel from Waste’ Network.

    Paul Raindle

    Paul Raindle is a serial developer with more than 30 years in the design and product development industry.

    After spending his early career with Ford Motor Company’s engineering teams in the UK, Germany and the USA, Paul established a design, product development and manufacturing company on the outskirts of London.

    With his extensive experience in development and product launch, Paul continues to diversify into other fields beyond his core automotive industry knowledge. His long-standing relationship with designers, developers, and manufacturers provides a niche solution along the supply and delivery chain process.​

    Chris Sawyer

    Since joining Innovate UK in 2014, Chris has been working as a lead technologist in the Independent Living team.

    Chris has over 30 years’ experience in the medical technology industry, having worked in both international and domestic markets spanning both the private and public sector for companies such as Hewlett Packard and NHS Innovations.

    Chris's experience embodies the "concept to commercialisation" model, having personally taken initial ideas all the way through to commercial success and in some cases global leading products.

    Thomas Tsui

    Thomas is Senior Designer at ADM Group and has more than 15 years in the design and manufacturing industries.

    With approximately 2,000+ bespoke designs produced in his name and thousands more products that he has assisted the production, Thomas is an expert in procurement, production, shipping, testing and legislation.

  5. Product design

    Product Design

    They have designed for Nike, IDEO, Google, Frog Design and Samsung, created the iconic looks of the London 2012 Olympics, have won more than 25 international design awards, sell their creations in over 50 countries and have their work on display in New York’s Museum of Modern Art and London’s Design Museum. Their breathtaking designs include the London 2012 Olympic torch, Crossrail train interior, the propello fan and even the loop candelabra. They are some of the most exciting names in design today. Meet the Spark 2016 product design specialists and mentors.

    Assa Ashuach

    Assa founded Assa Studio Ltd, focusing on research and consultancy within digital product design, manufacturing and 3D user experience online.

    Working with large multinational design firms such as Nike, Samsung, Panasonic and others, Assa has developed a unique product design approach that incorporates user inputs into a safe 3D personalisation experience.

    The studio works closely with brand and innovation teams on new designs, production workflows and scale.

    Scott Barwick

    Scott is an associate at MAP, a London-based creative consultancy whose client list includes Google and Samsung alongside ambitious growth companies such as Kano and Sabi.

    Scott graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2007 with a degree in furniture and product design and then worked at leading design firms PearsonLloyd and Marc Newson.

    Scott joined Barber and Osgerby as senior designer and developed some of the studios' most iconic furniture and products such as the 2012 Olympic Torch, Crossrail train interior, Filo sofa, and Four Leaves coat stand.

    Sebastian Bergne

    Sebastian is the director of the Sebastian Bergne Studio. The studio's versatility allows it to operate as designers, an industrial design facility for international brands, and as a supplier of bespoke objects for restaurants, retailers and individuals.

    Sebastian has been the recipient of a number of prestigious international design awards and his work is included in collections at New York's Museum of Modern Art and the London Design Museum. 

    Daniel Black

    Having stated his career at IDEO (London), Frog Design (California) and under Julian Brown at Studio Brown (Bath), Dan founded Black+Blum in 1998 with his friend and fellow DFI graduate, Martin Blum.

    In 2000, they launched their first collection of lighting at 100% Design, London. Other award winning designs followed swiftly, with the propello fan, loop candelabra and box appetite lunchbox.

    Black+Blum has now won over 25 international design awards, sell in over 50 countries and in over 1000 stories and has been trading as an internationally recognised brand for the last 17 years. 

    Matthew Cockerill

    Matthew is the Associate Design Director at Seymourpowell, a role which sees him focus on the space in which business, technology and people meet.

    Matthew helps companies to create compelling products and experiences that meet business objectives and deliver consumer delight.

    Matthew trained as a mechanical engineer and began his career as a production engineer. He then switched to design and after a career at some of the UK’s leading design consultancies he moved to Seoul, South Korea to work at Samsung Electronics.

    Andy Cripps

    Andy has been working as a design management specialist since 2005.

    He has worked with a wide range of SME's from management consultants and family owned manufacturers to technology startups.

    Using a combination of strategic design thinking and collaboration, Andy develops brands, products and services. This is based on crucial insights with high potential to delight customers – ultimately improving client relationships and the value of the business.

    Duncan Fitzsimons

    Duncan is an industrial designer and Co-founder of design consultancies Vitamin and 7thLondon Design & Invention.

    Duncan's work as a designer covers all industry sectors where people interact with technology. Duncan's design for the world's first foldable wheelchair wheel went on sale in 2013 as Morph Wheels.

    Originally started as a home-grown project when Duncan was at the Royal College of Art, this design was a finalist in the Saatchi & Saatchi World Changing Ideas Award, won the Transport Category of Designs of the Year 2013 at the Design Museum and won Icon Magazine's Product Design of the Year 2013.

    Daniel Flashman

    Daniel is an experienced product designer, working at leading consultancy, tangerine.

    He has exceptional insight and expertise, which he uses to help clients unlock innovation, particularly in transport and consumer electronics.

    Daniel joined tangerine in 2012, having previously held a senior design position at Christoph Behling Design, designing watches and mobile phones for luxury brands TAG Heuer, Dior and Versace to name a few.

    Rama Gheerawo

    Rama is Deputy Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and the RCA Reader in inclusive design.

    With nearly two decades in the design industry, Rama is an expert in people-centred and socially inclusive design. He leads the centre's research lab which creates designs that improve the lives of people of all ages and abilities.

    Rama is in demand as a keynote speaker and curates exhibitions and workshops for audiences that range from students and business executives to civil servants. 

    Marion Gillet

    As Programme Lead on Design Council Spark, Marion provides specialist advice and mentorship for all the teams selected onto the programme. 

    Marion is an experienced Product Designer and offers expertise in the process of designing and delivering a product to market. She has experience in working with small businesses, startups, creatives and inventors.

    Before joining Design Council, Marion worked as an independent design management consultant, advising small design businesses and managing collaboration projects between British designers and European brands. She knows what marketing means for a micro business and how to maintain relationships with partners, licensors and buyers. 

    Emily Goodall

    Emily started her career at Live Event Production, producing events for award shows in the film and TV industry, sporting gala dinners and live TV. Her clients included Sony, HMV, Waterstones and the Premier League.

    Following the birth of her second child, Emily launched BundleBean – the only fully universal footmuff that can adapt to fit all ages and on everything from buggies to car seats and carriers. The range is now on sale in over 14 countries and is continuing to grow year on year.

    Will Howe

    Graduating with a degree in product design from Central Saint Martins College of Art of Design in 2001, Will went onto work at prestigious design firms such as Seymourpowell, PriestmanGoode and PearsonLloyd.

    On joining Barber Osgerby in 2007, Will helped develop a number of high profile furniture pieces and has been a key member in establishing the studios industrial design offering which led to the formation of MAP in 2012.

    Recent work includes the Google Web Lab at the Science Museum, the London 2012 Olympic Torch, and luxury products for Louis Vuitton and the Crossrail train interior.

    Colum Lowe

    Colum has spent over 25 years in the design industry in a variety of successful and challenging roles.

    His design and management expertise crosses over the disciplines of interiors, products, graphics and branding with experience in both public and private sectors. 

    Colum has led several leading London design and branding agencies and has held senior positions at Sainsbury’s and the NHS.

    Jon Marshall

    Jon graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1996 with a Masters degree in industrial design and then worked at leading design firms Pentagram and Ross Lovegrove.

    He joined Barber Osgerby as a studio director in 2003 and developed some of the studio’s most iconic furniture and products such as the De La Warr pavilion chair, Tab lamp and the 2012 Olympic torch, before co-founding MAP with Edward Barber, Jay Osgerby and Laura Liram in 2012.

    Chris McGinely

    Chris is an award winning people-centred designer, researcher and writer and is senior associate and project manager for the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design.

    He holds a PhD in design research from Brunel University, an MA from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College's joint industrial design engineering course, and a MEng in product design engineering from the University of Strathclyde.

    Chris has worked in the inclusive design and social innovation field for over a decade, on a broad range of projects that have been successfully commercialized, exhibited and disseminated internationally. His research interests explore design ethnography and the role of empathy towards creating people-centred design proposals that improve lives.

    Claire Mitchell

    Claire invented the Chillipeeps adapter after a ‘eureka moment’ struck when she was out with her baby daughter and had a carton of ready-made formula milk  – but no sterilised bottle.

    In a moment of frustration Claire ranted 'Why hasn’t anyone invented a teat that can directly attach to the carton!' That evening she contacted Peter Jones (Dragons Den) with the news that she had "the next big thing". His automated response advised Claire to contact the IPO for IP protection and with that Claire took up a free session with a patent attorney.

    That is where Claire's rollercoaster journey began, patenting the idea onto prototypes and eventually getting it to market. 

    Naveed Parvez

    Naveed has worked almost exclusively in disruptive startups both in the public and private sectors.

    His background is in tech, operations, and project management for organisations like the NHS and Tesco. This experience, combined with his personal life as a parent of a severely disabled child, led to him founding Andiamo.

    As Andiamo's CEO, Naveed leads on strategic direction and execution.

    Gary Pyper

    Gary is a toy inventor and industrial design specialist with extensive experience in bringing products to market.

    Upon graduating, Gary worked in the gift and homeware sector, designing bespoke product ranges for mass-market high street retailers. He went on to become Vice President of Design (and more importantly, in-house inventor) at Seven Towns Ltd. In this role Gary spends his time inventing, building and playing with toys and games, and ultimately licensing their intellectual property to the world’s biggest toy companies. 

    Gary is responsible for bringing over 100 of his own inventions to market. 

    Charles Ross

    Charles started his working life as an outward bound instructor abroad. Coming back to a cold and damp country persuaded him to move into clothing technology at a time when Gore-Tex and fleece were being introduced.

    Charles has been involved in projects ranging from Olympic performance clothing to agricultural protection systems, via modular building additions. He works with the European Outdoor Group’s sustainability team, The Great Recovery’s Circle economy project and InnovateUK among others.

    Charles is a Fellow of the RSA.

  6. Sales and commercialisation

    Sales and commercialisation

    They have over 10 years experience running business, managing product development and establishing successful routes to market for organisations such as Unilever, Electrolux and Philips. They have coached SMEs, High Tech startups and universities on how to harness the power of design. Meet the Spark 2016 sales and commercialisation mentors and specialists.

    Damon Bonsor

    Damon is an entrepreneur with over 10 years’ experience of building, running and selling international businesses within the creative sector.

    He specialises in managing product development and manufacturing, and establishing successful routes to market with extensive experience of selling into blue chip retailers across the world.

    Recently, Damon sold a product development business, launched a TV production company and is providing consultancy to international brands looking to enter the UK.

    Neil Gridley

    Neil is a Design & Innovation Consultant working with clients such as Philips, Electrolux, Unilever and the Design Council.

    Neil also consults for Viadynamics, a London based Innovation Consultancy, for International Blue Chip clients such as Unilever, Abbott & GSK as well as incubating start-ups.

    As a Design Council Design Associate, Neil consults on several programmes helping SMEs, high tech start-ups and universities to harness the power of design. Neil has also jointly co-authored a book, “Brand Romance” which describes the 15 principles essential to the building of a great brand. 

    Joel Hughes

    Joel is the Partnerships Manager at Crowdfunder, the largest rewards-based crowdfunding platform in the UK.

    Crowdfunder has been around for 3 years and is part of the Keo Films Group, backed by River Cottage, Nesta and Creative England. Much of Joel's role involves working with universities, brands and match funding partners to encourage enterprise and entrepreneurship and introduce crowdfunding on a more local level.

    Morbhen Rattray

    As project manager on Design Council Spark, Morbhen ensures our events and processes run smoothly.

    She plays a crucial part in delivering a great experience on the programme. Morbhen has experience in curating enterprise training for individuals, small businesses and universities in the UK and overseas. 

    She has advised on crowdfunding campaigns for new products, startups and social enterprises and has written case studies on best-practice for crowdfunding and has run webinars and workshops on the subject.  

Advice & news

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

How important is IP to today's inventor? Just how important is IP to today's inventor? Designers and lawyers share their professional - and controversial - thoughts. Just how important is IP to today's inventor? Designers and lawyers share their professional - and controversial - thoughts.

Opinion — 12/09/2016