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Design Council Spark: An opportunity for all

Design Council Spark: An opportunity for all

25 October 2017

Our core belief at Design Council Spark is that anybody can have a life changing idea that will benefit the public. Whether you’ve discovered an innovative way to solve one of your own day to day challenges, or had a light-bulb moment that – with the right support and expert guidance – could change the way millions of us live, we want to hear from you!

Don’t know how or where to start? All our past finalists have varied hugely in background, education, work-experience and design know-how. From experienced product designers and engineers, to those with no related background or formal business or design skills – The Design Council Spark programme is here to support great innovators, whichever stage they’re at, whatever their day job and wherever they’ve come from.

Just last week, we attended The Baby Show at Olympia in London for the world exclusive launch of Rockit, one of our previous Spark finalists. You may recall from our guide on how to apply that Rockit came to us as a basic sketch drawn by three regular dads – Nick, Matt & Matt – with seven children between them, one of the dads had a bright idea to help improve an issue that was affecting his youngest baby’s sleep.

Through Spark, the team developed a prototype, tested the product, developed a brand and marketing strategy and, by the end of the programme, the Rockit was nearing its current form. The product that was developed from the first sketched idea is now readily available across the market and set to transform nap-times for babies and parents all around the world.

From three dads to one mum: our 2017 finalist Clair Boubli, applied to Spark with her product ‘Nubbit’, a handheld device that makes using a tablet or device easier and more comfortable for those with limited hand dexterity.

Clair’s product was first developed to assist her own daughter’s challenges with arthritis, and was selected for Spark programme support by Arthritis Research UK. Clair used her extensive design background which, although not related to this product field, helped her to overcome many of the initial issues faced in terms of production, development and material selection. This meant that when Clair joined the programme she had a more advanced prototype, and her support was therefore more focused around the development of Nubbit’s commercial and marketing strategies. Clair also benefited from continued user-testing to maximize the potential future impact of the product, particularly from within Arthritis UK’s own valuable audience groups.

We caught up with Clair this week to see what she had gained from her place on Design Council Spark and to get some first-hand advice for new applicants. When asked why she had applied, she told us “I applied to Spark for the funding and the instruction and information I hoped to, and did, gain - as well as the priceless endorsement and support of Design Council for Nubbit. The Spark programme offered and continues to offer concise and expert mentoring”.

Claire tells us, “The advice I received from the mentors, the various exercises and guest speaker workshops provided a varied, diverse, all-encompassing and complete course in product development and business.”

Clair summed up her own Spark journey as “an eye opening and invaluable experience, I would recommend it to anyone with a good idea and the passion to follow it through.” Asked for any advice to anyone thinking of applying to Spark 2018, Clair added: “the Spark programme is an extremely intense and enlightening, and at times can be a grueling experience! My advice to anyone applying is that you have to be prepared to work hard. Spark requires your undivided attention and focus but will result in an extensive acquisition of knowledge. You will learn so much in such a short time. It’s a rollercoaster!”

Clair is continuing to work with the feedback and learnings she gained from Spark to further develop Nubbit, and we will be keeping in touch to support her, as with all members of our ever-growing Spark Alumni Network.

Just like Clair and the team behind Rockit, one of the main benefits you can expect from Spark is its position as one of the UK’s few design development programmes focused solely on physical products. Because of this targeted approach, we can be sure that the design and industry experts who deliver the programme fully understand the specific challenges you may be facing with your idea.

After an intensive 16-weeks of learning and support, with £15,000 investment and the opportunity to pitch to an investment panel for up to an additional £200,000, Design Council Spark could be the programme that takes your bright idea from a basic sketch to a commercialised product.

Design Council Spark really is open to all UK entrants over the age of 18 years, and we encourage applications from vast and varied fields, as long as your idea is innovative and ready to solve a challenge. Take a look at our past finalists to see the range of products, bright ideas and the back-stories behind those we have supported already.

Want your own chance to take part? Design Council Spark is currently accepting applications for Spark 2018. If you prefer to talk then get in touch and we’ll help in any way we can.

Applications close on 21 November 2017, so don't delay, apply today.

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