Horse saddle, doorbell and pop-up umbrella win Design Council Spark Fund prize of £150k

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The three winners have been announced

The three winners of the Design Council’s Spark Innovation Fund have been announced, each receiving £50,000 plus mentor support from the design charity to further progress their products.

The winning products are all aimed at very different markets: Ding, by Avril O’Neil and John Nussey, is a doorbell connected to your phone informing you of when visitors are waiting at the door.

Saddle 2.0, by Trace Ward at Ergon Equine, is the first new Saddle design in 2000 years which boasts greater muscular-skeletal comfort for the horse.

Acya Dundar has invented Pop Umbrella, a retake on the traditional umbrella design by being flexible and less likely to break.
The three winners were selected from an original group of three hundred and fifty applicants, of which thirty were shortlisted and invited to a weekend workshop to gain guidance from a selection of experts. Eight finalists were offered places on the fast-track twenty week programme, leading to the final three awards.

Spark is a new product innovation fund dedicated to uncovering the UK’s next great inventions. Funding of £5m has been pledged from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Design Council invited applications for a place on their fast track programme and for up to £165K funding.


The finalists pitched in front of an investment panel which included Design Council staff, Design Entrepreneurs, Intellectual Property and Investment experts.

Presenting the award and featured speakers at the launch included Design Council Chief Executive, John Mathers, and the 2012 London Design Festival ‘Design Entrepreneur’ award winner, Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh, for Sugru a moldable glue that turns into rubber, along with a selection of Spark finalists.

Other inventions in development from finalists range from a composting tool, to desktop factory equipment, an illuminating prayer mat, a passenger comfort product to reduce ear-pain during flight, and an easy to use hook and loop zip.

Following on from the success of this pilot Spark programme, the competition will continue for a second year, with the call for applications is open.

To qualify you much be a UK resident aged over eighteen years old, and no previous design experience is required. Your idea must be a physical, non-technological product at prototype stage.

John Mathers, Design Council chief executive, said: ‘This has been a phenomenal pilot programme, successful for all involved. Design Council is enormously proud of the finalists and winners, each of whom has a useful, well-considered and highly commercial product that you’ll undoubtedly be able to buy soon.

“This is a huge achievement and a mark of quality which epitomises the high standards of British design. Everybody has worked incredibly hard and the Spark team is excited to open the second call for applications.’

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