3 June 2009

The Design Council has launched a new initiative using designers to help speed up the commercialisation of new technologies from some of the UK’s leading universities and UCL is one of the six participating universities to win a place through a competitive entry process.

The Design Council’s Innovate for Universities will bring teams of designers into the technology transfer offices of universities to help scientists and technologists accelerate the development of astonishing new applications for their research.

UCL nominated four technologies that will be supported by intensive design mentoring for 12 months.

UCL technologies to be supported are:

  • Crime mapping software
  • A self-sterilising catheter
  • A heart valve that can be implanted without surgery
  •  A hydrogen storage cartridge for a mobile fuel cell

David Kester, Chief Executive of the Design Council, said: “In the UK we have a world-class science base with researchers working at the forefront of new thinking, plus an equally potent design capability with the skills to translate ideas into products and services that meet the needs of tomorrow’s consumer. Innovate for Universities is about combining both these elements early and smartly so we commercialise our technologies around the needs of real people and create enduring new solutions and businesses.”

David Secher, Chairman of Unico, the professional body for commercialising research, said: “Until now, technology transfer offices have not routinely employed designers to help develop their ideas. Innovate for Universities will allow designers, through their strategic advice and ability to understand user needs, to enhance the economic and social impact derived from translating research into public benefit.”

Lord Drayson, Minister for Innovation, said: “This exciting Design Council project will offer innovators in universities really practical advice to help bring their innovations to market.”

Innovate for Universities is based on a successful Design Council support service for high-tech start-ups that is part of its national Designing Demand business programme. It has proved that when designers are involved at the early stages of science and technology-based product development, commercial propositions that meet a market need emerge more rapidly. It is funded by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Innovate for Universities will culminate in a showcase of the resulting innovations and products in June next year.

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For more information please contact Saskia Sissons at the Design Council on 020 7420 5248 or saskia.sissons@designcouncil.org.uk