Design Council Spark: Tips for applicants
Design Council Spark’s programme is both intense and supportive. It’s the ideal environment to motivate inventors, designers and those with prototyped ideas to try out different routes of action. These tips from Spark’s Product Development Manager, Marion Gillet, will help you to prepare your application in the best possible way.
Build your team
You don’t have to set up a business to apply for Design Council Spark. Your ability to work with others as you take a product to market will be judged favourably by the selection panel. A team can include the people you regularly speak to for help and guidance, and the best teams are made up of people with varied backgrounds, experience and skills. In your application show that you are getting others involved, describe the roles of the people in your team and why their input is important for you.
We know that along with your ideas, teams evolve. Tell us about the people who helped you yesterday, as well as those you would like to involve tomorrow.
Make a prototype
A prototype is an object in three dimensions that can be touched - it’s the physical translation of your idea. As your product develops, more than one prototype will be required to validate both the features and benefits. Hand-drawn sketches and computer renders are a good place to start if they look convincing. However, applications where people have taken the time to build something simple, and test the idea, will be judged more favourably. It will force you to make important decisions about the nature of your product and you will have to speak to people who can advise you on the best way forward, especially if you’ve never done this before. This is the kind of resourcefulness we’re interested in, using initiative and being forward thinking.
We really don’t expect perfect prototypes. Tell us what you have learned in the process and what you need to do next. If you are on a tight budget, cheap materials like card, glue and paper are great to use. If you don’t know where to start go to your local art or craft shop, contact Makerspaces and Hackspaces to get advice on how to make something.
Use simple words
You have accumulated a lot of knowledge around your idea, the issue it addresses, and the people who might buy and use it. Make sure the language you use can be easily understood by anyone who would read it. Imagine you’re on the phone to someone who knows nothing about your idea. How would you describe the product to them? Make note of how other people describe and summarise your idea after you have explained it to them.
Make every effort to find competitors
‘There is nothing like this on the market’, is the phrase that I hear most often from inventors and designers. There might be nothing exactly like your product on the market but there is a competing solution out there. For example, a connected doorbell does compete with a traditional one. Ear-pain relieving devices compete with painkillers. A competitor is what users consider purchasing instead of your product, as they try to solve the same problem or fulfil the same need. Remember: no competitor = no market.
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