Cash support to commercialise arthritis products

Inventions to be supported through 20-week fast-track product development programme

The Design Council has announced a new partnership with Arthritis Research UK for the second wave of the Spark product innovation fund.

Together we hope that the designs and innovations that we take forward will help to address the needs of the millions of people living with the pain and disability caused by arthritis

Arthritis Research UK conducts research into the cause and treatment of, and cures for, arthritis, as well as providing information on how to maintain healthy joints and bones and how to live well with arthritis. The charity’s support for the Spark programme aims to attract new product ideas for life-altering products, and to fast-track those products to market.

Arthritis is the biggest cause of pain and disability in the UK, affecting around 10 million people. It causes pain and stiffness in the joints, which makes everyday simple movements such as standing, sitting, gripping and walking, difficult. Arthritis, and living with the pain it causes, can have a severe impact on quality of life, impacting on people’s ability to work, stay mobile, and remain independent.

It is likely that the most-innovative ideas will come from people who are either in contact with those with musculoskeletal conditions, such as nurses, carers and family members; or those who have a condition themselves. The Design Council and Arthritis Research UK are urging people from all backgrounds with product prototypes, regardless of their design or invention experience, to apply to Spark.

Spark is a product innovation fund and 20-week programme designed to fast track product inventions to market.

Finalists invited to attend the 20-week programme will receive an initial investment of £15,000 and up to three of those inventions will be funded by Arthritis Research UK.

Following completion of the programme, finalists can pitch for either a share of £150,000 or £50,000 from Arthritis Research UK if their product invention is designed to assist those with arthritis.

Applications are completed online and the deadline is midnight on Monday, 14 December. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend a two-day intensive workshop, after which the Design Council Spark Investment Panel will select finalists.

This will bring additional people through the programme who aren’t designers or inventors, but who have great, prototyped ideas because of their regular contact with arthritis

To qualify for Spark, you must be a UK resident, aged over 18 and no previous design experience is required. The idea can be anything which is a physical product that can be sold to businesses or consumers and the panel is keen to see product inventions designed to assist those with arthritis. It cannot be a service or software such as an app, although it can integrate digital technology.

Finalists will be supported by an expert mentor, have access to specialists in relevant fields, and will be given £15, 000 to accelerate their product development over 20 weeks. Arthritis Research UK will provide £15,000 for up to three inventors who design products to assist those with arthritis.

Design Council Spark is designed to provide funding and support when inventors need it most, but, uniquely, it does not take any equity in the business. In return, inventors are asked to donate 5% of future revenue from sales of their submitted product back into the Spark fund, enabling future inventors to develop their own products and take them to market.

John Mathers, Design Council chief executive, said: “The Design Council and Arthritis Research UK are very excited to join forces on Spark.

“Both organisations share a similar ethos, ie to improve people’s lives through innovation and design and recognising that it can be the small things that often make the biggest difference.

“Our partnership is a very natural link and a perfect fit for Spark. It will broaden Spark’s scope and bring additional people through the programme who aren’t designers or inventors, but who have great, prototyped ideas because of their regular contact with arthritis.

“Together we hope that the designs and innovations that we take forward will help to address the needs of the millions of people living with the pain and disability caused by arthritis.”

For details on how to apply, click here.

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