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
What is Design Council Spark?
Design Council Spark is a leading UK product innovation support programme and investment fund designed to help you turn your bright idea into a commercially successful product. Since its creation in 2014, Design Council Spark programme has helped more than 100 innovators and entrepreneurs to develop their product ideas, 45 of these have been intensively supported with mentoring, funding and specialist input to help them progress to market.
What makes Design Council Spark different?
The programme provides design expertise to help shape business opportunities and develop product innovations through an intensive process, which also gives access to specialists across business, IP, investment and marketing.
Up to 10 finalists are selected onto the programme comprising of five core workshops led by a team of design experts, as well as one-to-one input from specialists in a variety of fields. The programme runs over a 16-week time frame during which finalists also gain access to Design Council Spark's network and our extensive community of past ventures.
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 for a share of up to £150,000 further funding to fast-track their product to market.
What we are looking for
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
- Answering the door
Even if you have an idea that doesn’t fit into any of these areas but still improves someone’s life, then please do apply.
Through our partnership with Alzheimer’s Society we will be looking at products specifically designed to aid people affected by dementia. Successful applicants of these products will benefit during the programme from opportunities for support from people affected by dementia, allowing for in-depth insights and product testing.
How it works
The Design Council Spark journey
Have a bright idea?
We look for bright product ideas that are at sketch, prototype or planning stage with IP and business registered in the UK.
We want to know more about you, your idea, the size of the market and your plans for your product in the future.
Make the shortlist
We will notify shortlisted applicants to offer them a position in Design Camp, where you will be introduced to the programme and supported to get ‘pitch ready’.
Attend Design Camp
Design Camp is an intensive two-day boot camp, where we help you to refine your product idea and prepare you for your pitch for a place on Design Council Spark. Pitches will be filmed for the Design Council Spark Fund Panel to review.
Become a finalist
Up to 10 finalists will be selected to join the Design Council Spark programme, which is designed to help you test 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 testing and developing your product idea.
Pitch for the Design Council Spark Award
On completion of the programme all finalists will pitch for a share of additional funding of up to £150,000 to accelerate their product ideas to market.
Brightest Sparks announced
Up to five products will be awarded a share of a further investment pot.
Make a difference
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.
Spark really helped to take us from a basic prototype to full production and a successful product launch. Two years on and Rockit has sold nearly 40,000 units worldwide.Matt Dyson, CEO – Rockit (Finalist 2016)
How you contribute to Design Council Spark
Design Council Spark is unique in that we do not ask for any equity from your product and we do not own any of your product’s intellectual property. Instead, in exchange for the support provided, finalists contribute a small percentage of their product sales to the Design Council Spark Fund, which we reinvest to support the next round of successful Design Council Spark finalists on their product endeavour. 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.
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 Design Council Spark journey.
Design Council Spark is funded through a combination of philanthropic and charitable funding. This year we are delighted that Alzheimer’s Society will be a partner of the programme.
Partnership with Alzheimer’s Society
Alzheimer’s Society is the only UK charity that campaigns for change, funds research to find a cure and supports people living with dementia today. As the largest and most influential dementia charity in the UK, they are calling on everyone to unite. Working together they know they will achieve their vision – a world without dementia.