What is Spark?

Design Council Spark is a package programme of support and funding designed to help people turn their ideas into commercially successful products. Spark is looking for brilliant product ideas, preferably at sketch, prototype or planning stage.

Who is Spark for?

Spark is open to all UK residents over the age of 18. Both the IP and the business must also be registered in the UK.

When is the deadline?

You must submit your application before midday GMT on Tuesday 21 November 2017.

Can I submit my application by post?

Applications are online only.

How do I know you have received my application?

You will receive a confirmation email after submitting. This email comes from F6S and will not have a Design Council address. Before you contact us please make sure you have checked your Spam or Junk folders in case the email has been moved into one of these by your email provider.

Can I change my application after I press submit?

No, once you press submit it is final. However, the form does automatically save your answers as you type them so you can finish it over a period of time if you wish. If you have a vital amendment or update regarding your product, you may contact us before the Spark application deadline.

Can I submit several applications for different product ideas?

If you would like to submit more than one idea please email us and we will advise you.

I was shortlisted last year, can I re-apply?

Yes, the judges will be interested to know how your idea has developed since last year.

Do I need to be set up as a company to be eligible?

No, you can apply as part of a team or as an individual. We can provide information on company set-up through the programme’s workshops should you be successful and interested in doing so. 

I already have a job, can I still apply?

Yes, as long as you can commit the time involved in the support programme and beyond to progress your product to market. Many of our previous finalists have held full time jobs while progressing through the programme.

If I submit an application, will I keep ownership of my idea or my product’s intellectual property?

Yes. You will continue to own your idea and intellectual property.

Will information regarding my idea remain confidential?

Yes. The only people who will see the information when you submit your application are those involved in selecting participants for the next stage of the process (Design Camp). We will not share it with anyone else. All those invited to attend Design Camp are asked to sign an agreement (in advance) to ensure any information shared (that is not already in the public domain) that needs to be kept confidential remains so. This ensures that all participants can participate as fully as possible, in the knowledge that everyone else at Camp has signed that same agreement.

Can I apply without a prototype?

You can still apply and we will consider your application. However we strongly recommend that you try to visualise or even mock-up your idea to help us understand your stage of development.  

Do I need to send you my prototype?

No. Your online application is enough. There is also the opportunity to use your video to show your prototype, which we would suggest helps to bring your application to life if it is possible.

Is it ok if my product is integrated with technology or connected to an app to work?

Yes but it cannot be completely technology based. For example, previous applicant and awardee, Ding, had a connected doorbell where the main product linked up to a smart phone to work.

My idea is more about software/a service, can I still apply?

No. We only support ideas that will become physical products.

If I am awarded £15,000, will I have to give the money back if I don’t sell any products?

No. There is no condition that you have to give money back if your product does not sell. However, we hope that by taking the advice of our design and business experts you will have used the £15,000 in such a way that you are able to head towards launching a commercially viable and successful product.

What does the £15,000 enable me to do?

If you are selected as a finalist on the 16-week programme, you will be awarded £15,000 funding to help you progress with the commercialisation of your product. The personlised support you receive will help you to identify the priority activities that this funding should be invested in to accelerate your path to market.

How much time is involved in the 16 weeks?

We expect you to attend five one-day workshops, which may require travel time, followed by an investment pitch day. In addition you will benefit from up to three days of one-to-one support from a dedicated coach, time to meet specialist mentors from the Spark network and with other stakeholders who will be able to help you take your idea to market. These requirements are in addition to the time you will spend developing your product.

It says that if I am awarded a place on the 16-week support programme, I must return 5% of my product’s sales back to the fund. What does “sales” mean?

Sales means the amount that you recognise as product income within your company’s accounts. For example if you sell your product to a distributor who then sells it onto a shop, sales will be based on the income received from the distributor, rather than the retail price paid by the consumer.

When do I commit to give 5% of my product sales to the fund?

If you are selected for a place on the Design Camp on 9 and 10 January 2018, you do not have to return 5% of your product sales. However, if you are selected as a finalist on the 16-week support programme you will be awarded £15,000 funding to progress with the commercialisation of your product. Therefore we will ask you to sign an agreement before you start the 16-week programme. This will include the condition that 5% of your product’s sales is returned to the Spark fund.

What happens at the end of the 16-week programme?

The 16-week programme ends with an investment Pitch Day where you will get to pitch to a panel of investors for a share of up to £200,000 to help accelerate your product to market. All finalists will have the opportunity to showcase their product to key audiences, such as: investors, potential customers or buyers and business support. This will also include exposure to media and support of your own aligned promotional activity wherever possible.

What happens beyond the 16-week programme?

On completion of the programme, finalists will receive membership to the Spark alumni community, allowing access to the Design Council’s world-class network.

We’d really like you to tell us how you are progressing, so we’ll keep in touch with you to identify if we can help you further as you market and promote your product. We will share any appropriate further press/media opportunities that fit your product as available.

Can I use the Design Council Spark brand to promote my products?

We agree that selected finalists to discuss using the Design Council Spark brand with us in advance of use. We want to help you get as much publicity as possible and we will be working with you throughout the programme to achieve this.

Think we have missed something?

We've set out to answer all of your questions about Design Council Spark. If you think we've missed something out, don't hesitate to let us know either in the comment section below or send us an email at spark@designcouncil.org.uk.


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News & opinion

Design Council Spark: Tips for applicants Top tips from Design Council Spark's Development Manager to help you prepare your application. Top tips from Design Council Spark's Marion Gillet to help you prepare your application.

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