A product innovation fund that provides support and investment to develop UK based innovations that are primarily physical.
Once an applicant has been accepted onto the programme, they will receive an initial sum of £15,000 that will help to develop their product. They will also have the opportunity to pitch for a share of £200,000. As Arthritis Research UK is supporting the 2017 programme, one finalist will receive up to £50,000 of the available £200,000 if they can prove that their product has the potential to help those suffering from Arthritis.
Successful applicants will also receive a lifelong membership to the Design Council Spark alumni network and will have access to the Design Council's extensive community.
Design Council Spark do not ask for equity. Instead, in return for support provided, participants will give a small percentage of their product's sales to the fund so that future ideas may be supported.
The Design Council is an independent charity, established in 1914, and funded by several government departments. In 2011, the Council merged with Cabe, the government’s adviser on design in the built environment.
Design Council Spark has been established with the aim of addressing a gap in the funding market for the development of physical products. The product innovation fund is looking for early-stage ideas or working prototypes that are primarily physical, rather than digital, and that has the potential to be commercialised. Product ideas should preferably be at the sketch, prototype or planning stage.
For the January 2017 round, Design Council Spark for products that will address a need within one of the following areas:
- Health and well-being. Ideas for health with a focus upon enabling independent living.
- Energy and environment. Ideas for energy that will benefit the environment.
- Home life. Ideas for the home which will improve the way in which people live.
- On the move. Transformative ideas for transport.
- Sports and leisure. Ideas for sport and leisure that will encourage active lifestyles.
- Something remarkable. Those whose good idea does not quite fit into one of the above categories.
Additionally, product ideas are needed that will support the work of Arthritis Research UK, helping to reduce the pain, isolation and fatigue that this condition can cause. This is following the success of the 2016 partnership between Design Council and Arthritis Research UK.
Proposed products must be primarily physical, rather than digital and therefore ideas that are more about software/a service will not be considered eligible.
Applications are invited from UK individuals and teams, all of whom must be aged 18 or over. Applicants must be ambitious, and have an idea for an innovative product that they are committed to bringing to market.
Applications will be assessed against the following criteria:
- Innovation and feasibility.
- Need and market.
- Technical feasibility.
- Business viability.
- Product development.
- Commitment and vision.
- Openness to learn and develop.
Information regarding match funding has not been specified. Interested parties should contact the funding provider directly for further details.
Funding is intended to help successful applicants to progress with the commercialisation of their product. These applicants will receive support that will help them to identify priority activities that the funding should be invested in so that they may accelerate their path to market.
This scheme is now closed. The last deadline for applications was 10 January 2017. Information regarding future rounds will be given once available.
Applications may only be made online. After the application has been submitted it cannot be amended.
Shortlisted applicants will be announced during February 2017, and will be invited to attend Design Camp on 6 and 7 March 2017. Design Camp is an intensive two day workshop where applicants will receive help to refine and pitch their idea for the chance to participate in the Spark commercialisation programme.
Finalists will be announced during March 2017 and will then have the opportunity to join the 16-week Support Programme which will take place 4 April 2017 onwards. Up to a total of 15 ideas will be chosen for this programme. Participants will be expected to attend five one-day workshops and should also be prepared to allocate up to three days to receive one-to-one coaching support and to meet Spark network mentors and other stakeholders.
Applicants will have the opportunity to pitch for the Spark Award during pitch days taking place on 25 and 26 July 2017. Brightest Sparks will be announced during September 2017. Up to five products will be chosen and will be awarded a share of £200,000.
Upon completing the programme, finalists will join the Spark alumni community and will have access to and support from the Design Council's world-class network.