What is Design Council Spark: The Home Innovation Challenge?

We are on the hunt for bright ideas for independent living, that will make life at home easier and better for all. Because we want our homes to work for us, not against us. More people than ever face challenges in the home, and the products available to them are often expensive, clinical and unappealing. We have a huge opportunity to re-invent the market and make home life better and more enjoyable for everyone. Design Council Spark, is where we select, support and fund innovators to bring game-changing and desirable products to the market, to make day-to-day life at home a better experience for all.

What are the categories for Spark; The Home Innovation Challenge?

Design Council Spark is looking to turn bright ideas into brilliant home improvement products transforming the experience of getting around, remembering things or doing day-to-day tasks such as:

  • Getting up/going to bed
  • Washing and bathing
  • Getting dressed
  • Cooking and eating
  • Working
  • Gardening
  • Cleaning
  • Answering the door
  • Sitting
  • Relaxing

Even if you have an idea that doesn’t fit into these areas but still improves someone’s life, then please do apply.

Who is Spark; The Home Innovation Challenge for?

Spark is open to all UK residents over the age of 18 with a brilliant product idea for independent living. Preferably at sketch, prototype or planning stage. Both the IP and the business must also be registered in the UK.

Where can I apply?

You can apply via our website, the application form will go live on 5 February at 12 noon 2019.

When is the deadline?

The application deadline is 3pm on 12 April 2019.

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 the application platform, F6S, it will not have a Design Council address. Before you contact us, please make sure you have checked your Spam or Junk Mail 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 panel 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). All those invited to attend Design Camp are asked to sign a non-disclosure 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 the Design 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, Alie, a compact, malleable controller that responds to the most minute hand movements.

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 you must give the money back if your product does not sell. However, you will be given professional advice on how to invest the £15,000 and it is imperative you follow the professional advice given. You will not be awarded the money if we feel you have not followed the professional advice which has been provided.

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 personalised 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 the Design Council Spark Fund pitch day. In addition, you will benefit from up to four 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 as a finalist, 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 Design Council Spark fund. As a Charity, Design Council does not make profit from this money. This money is set aside to fund the Spark programme, and future Spark cycles to support the next generation of entrepreneurs.

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

The 16-week programme ends with the Design Council Spark Fund Pitch Day where you will get to pitch to the Design Council Spark Fund Panel for a share of up to £150,000 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 keep in contact with Design Council Spark and vice versa. Design Council Spark is keen to assist ventures to progress their products to the market. In addition, it is important that ventures stay in contact to track their commercial progress for the purposes of managing the investment fund.

What are the key dates I need to know for Design Council Spark?

Call opens: 5 Feb 2019 at 12 noon

Call closes: 12 Apr 2019 at 3pm

Design Camp: 20-21 May 2019

Workshop 1: 25 Jun 2019

Workshop 2: 26 Jun 2019

Workshop 3: 10 Jul 2019

Workshop 4: 6 Aug 2019

Workshop 5: 12 Sep 2019

Design Council Spark fund Pitch day: 8 Oct 2019

Spark 5 showcase: 16 Oct 2019

One-to-one coaching sessions will take place throughout the 16-week programme. Date and times will be agreed with your mentor.

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

If you wish to use the Design Council Spark brand, you will need to discuss this with us prior to using the logo.

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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