Great innovation is the beating heart of the UK economy, designing our future through world leading products that not only change lives but break new ground, build businesses, jobs, and grow the UK economy.

Sarah Weir OBE, Chief Executive, Design Council

Overview

Now in its fourth year, Spark has become a leading UK product innovation support programme and fund. The programme provides design expertise to help shape business opportunities and develop product innovations through an intensive 16-week process, which gives access to specialists across business, IP, investment, and marketing; funding of £15,000 to develop the product, and the opportunity to pitch for a share of up to £200,000 further funding to fast-track the product to market.

Partnership with Arthritis UK 

For the third year running Design Council Spark is proud to confirm our partnership with Arthritis Research UK, a charity which conducts research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. Both organisations share a similar ethos – to improve lives through innovation and design. The charity’s support for Design Council Spark aims to attract new product ideas for life-altering products and to fast-track those products to market.

What makes Spark different?

Up to 15 finalists are selected onto our 16-week programme, receiving one-to-one mentoring with specialists in a variety of fields as well as 5 core workshops led by a team of design experts. Finalists gain access to Design Council Spark network and extensive community of past alumni.

Once accepted onto the programme all finalists receive an initial sum of £15,000 to help develop their product, as well as the opportunity to pitch in front of an investment panel to gain further funding to fast-track their product into market.

Register your interest

Register your interest to receive Spark news and be the first to hear about the next application date.

Register

What we are looking for

Design Council Spark is looking to turn bright ideas into brilliant products to improve the lives of others in the following areas: 

How it works

The Spark Journey

Have a bright idea.  

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

Apply.

We want to know more about you, your idea and the plans for your product in the future. 

Make the shortlist.

The Spark team will notify shortlisted applicants to offer them a position in Design Camp, where you will be introduced to the programme and meet other shortlisted applicants. If you are unsuccessful, the team will give the option to receive personal feedback.

Attend Design Camp.

Design Camp is an intensive 2-day boot camp, where we help you to refine your product idea and pitch for a place on the Spark programme.

Become a finalist

Up to 15 finalists will be selected to join the 16 week Spark programme, which is designed to help you grow your idea and develop a business plan. The programme delivers a series of workshops led by specialist design experts, one-to-one mentoring and a £15,000 grant to assist with product development.

Pitch for the Spark Award.

On completion of the programme all finalists will pitch their product ideas to an investment panel for the opportunity to receive further funding. 

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 join the Spark alumni community with access to and support from the Design Council’s world-class network. 

We have learnt so much whilst being on the Spark programme, the support from the mentors with many years of industrial experience has been invaluable

AirBreathe, Spark 2017 finalists

How you contribute to Spark

Design Council Spark is unique in that we do not ask for any equity from your product. Instead, in exchange for the support provided, finalists contribute a small percentage of their product’s sales to support the next round of successful Spark finalists on their product endeavour.

Meet the Spark finalists 2018 Find out about the products that will be refined and transformed over the next 16 weeks. Find out about the products that will be refined and transformed over the next 16 weeks.

Feature — 12/03/2018

Mentors and Specialists

Design Council has a network of specialists and mentors which are invited to all networking events, workshops and one-to-one sessions. They provide guidance through the programme as well as offer knowledge, insights and access to contacts to help you progress through your Spark journey.

Find out more

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

Inspiration

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

Ding: How one idea opened the door to a whole new business We talk to the inventors behind Ding, the smart doorbell that was a Spark finalist in 2015 and went onto to join J-Lab and receive 200% funding on Kickstarter. We talk to the inventors behind Ding, the smart doorbell that was a Spark finalist in 2015 and is on its way to market in 2018.

Feature — 02/05/2017

LOKI - Leveraging the digital community to help grow a brand We spoke to LOKI designer Matt Marais about how he and the team embedded the audience into the very core of their business and product. We spoke to LOKI designer Matt Marais about how he and the team embedded the audience into the very core of their business and product.

Feature — 05/01/2017

Design skills are not just for designers – Spark proves this This year, our product innovation programme Design Council Spark has seen an increase in successful applications from groups under-represented in the design industry and people without formal design education. This year, Spark has seen people with an unusually varied set of skills and backgrounds reach the final stages.

Feature — 16/05/2018

Design Council Spark awardees are rocking all over the world Rockit, the aptly named rocket-shaped portable baby rocker, was an awardee in our 2016 Design Council Spark accelerator programme. Rockit, the aptly named rocket-shaped portable baby rocker, was an awardee in our 2016 Design Council Spark accelerator programme.

News — 13/04/2018

Meet the Spark finalists 2018 Find out about the products that will be refined and transformed over the next 16 weeks. Find out about the products that will be refined and transformed over the next 16 weeks.

Feature — 12/03/2018

Advice

Crowdfunding: changing how you bring a product to market Jess Ratty, Brand Communications Manager at Crowdfunder, discusses how you can use crowdfunding platforms to bring your product to market. Jess Ratty, Brand Communications Manager at Crowdfunder, discusses how you can use crowdfunding platforms to bring your product to market.

Feature — 26/05/2015

Five surprising facts about arthritis Arthritis Research UK, our Spark innovation fund partners, share five interesting facts about arthritis Arthritis Research UK, our Spark innovation fund partners, share five interesting facts about arthritis

Feature — 31/05/2016

How Design Council Spark kick-started a difficult design project We spoke to Nick Rawcliffe, a mechanical engineer who joined the Spark programme with his innovative folding cycle helmet. We spoke to Nick Rawcliffe, a mechanical engineer who joined the Spark programme with his innovative folding cycle helmet.

Feature — 01/02/2018

Design Council responds to '25p Latte levy' with 0p cost solution We need a solution that is not only able to deliver the coffee or hot drink that the consumer wants but is fully and naturally biodegradable. A solution that is not only able to deliver the coffee or hot drink that the consumer wants but is fully and naturally biodegradable.

News — 05/01/2018