Applications now Open for the Design Council's Home Innovation Challenge

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The Design Council Spark has opened applications for its ‘Home Innovation Challenge.’ This year Spark is looking for designs “…that will make life at home easier and better for all.”

This year the Design Council Spark has partnered with the Alziemer’s Society and are asking for product ideas that promotes independent living.

Nearly 14 million people in the UK live with a disability and 18% of our population is over the age of 65, expected to rise to 25% by 2046. The global spending power of disabled people, their carers and families is £8 trillion and for people over the age of 65 by 2020 it’s estimated to be £15 trillion.

We believe every home should be a place where we can relax and enjoy life: whatever our age or capability. But more and more people are facing challenges in the home.

They might have trouble getting around, remembering things or doing day-to-day tasks. And the products designed to help them are often clinical, expensive or unappealing. We want to change that. We are looking for new, innovative product ideas that will make home life easier, and are well designed, so that everyone can feel more confident, capable and independent.

We want our homes to be a joy, not a chore.”

The day-to-day tasks you choose to focus on are up to you. You may have an idea that assists with cooking, washing, cleaning, relaxing, or something else entirely, as long as your idea improves someones life.

The Design Council Spark, is a product innovation programme helping designers to turn their ideas into a commercial reality. Up to 10 finalists will be chosen to join the Design Council Spark programme, each of which will receive £15,000 to help fast track their product to market. The programme also includes a series of workshops, one-on-one mentoring and access to the Design Councils network of specialists to help you develop your idea and a viable business plan.

Finalists will also have an opportunity to pitch to the Design Council Spark Investment Panel to receive a share of up to £150,000 of further funding!

To apply, send in your ideas that are at sketch, prototype or the planning stage (You need to be a business registered in the UK to apply).

To apply and learn more visit the Design Council website:



Tax Benefits for Design Firms Made Easy


In December 2018, R&D Tax Benefit Expert, Manir Donaghue and LA Design Director, Les Stokes led a free webinar discussing the known and unknown tax benefits that Industrial Design firms should be taking advantage of.

This informative presentation, organised by the British Industrial Design Association (BIDA), addressed the many misconceptions and complexities in the British Tax system which design firms often struggle to tackle.

While intended to be a one-off event, BIDA has released the presentation for free to BIDA members.

If you are a registered BIDA member, you can email to request your copy.

Expert Explains How You can Claim Unknown Tax Benefits

Industrial Design companies have the opportunity to claim R+D tax benefits, but there are a lot of misconceptions regarding which activities are claimable so many lose out on considerable savings.

BIDA has organised a free presentation with both facts and relevant examples and this will be conducted by Manir Donaghue, an R+D tax benefit expert and Les Stokes, Director at LA Design.  Les has been submitting annual claims for the last six years and Manir has worked for HMRC so understands both sides of the claims system.

10th December - 12.30 – 1.30 pm
How to join:

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

Important - First GoToMeeting? Do a quick system check in advance of the presentation 
You can also dial in using your phone.
-United Kingdom: +44 330 221 0088
-One-touch: +443302210088,,742801949
Access Code: 742-801-949

More phone numbers:
-United States: +1 (571) 317-3129
-One-touch: +15713173129,,742801949

Don't miss this great Business Opportunity!

Join the British Industrial Design Export Initiative


The British Industrial Design Association calls for companies to send entries to be considered for the British Industrial Design Export Initiative.

The Department of International Trade (DIT) is looking for economic opportunity within the Creative Industry; promoting areas of British excellence to the International Community. Despite the great (and often unseen*) value design has to the economy, the Industrial Design Sector risks being dwarfed by larger sectors and overlooked by the DIT.

The British Industrial Design Export Initiative gives design firms the opportunity to collaborate and target the DIT with a unified voice.

In stage one of the initiative BIDA asks firms to submit their projects representing excellent design. These will be thoroughly reviewed and compared to international standards to consolidate the best of British Industrial Design in one portfolio.

In later stages of the initiative, showcased creators will be included in discussions with the DIT and have the opportunity to become ambassadors for the British Industrial Design Community.

If you believe your work stands out on the global stage you can submit your projects to

You can read more about the initiative and submission requirements in the full document here.

* “2015 results show that over the last 10 years design-led companies have maintained significant stock market advantage, outperforming the S&P by an extraordinary 211%.” -

Controversial Design: Exploring Death, Sex and Food within Design


From periods and sex toys to burial alternatives, controversial design allows us to break down taboos around sex, food and death. Join us for a panel talk led by Mara Pezzotta & Gianni Arduini (Pinximonio, vibrator as home décor) with Roxanne Brennen (DiningToys for sensual eating), and Anna Citelli & Raoul Bretzel (Capsula Mundi, funeral urn redesign). This is followed by an interactive workshop session with speakers for participants to develop their own controversial designs, with 12 design briefs around food, sexuality and death. Open to all regardless of experience! 

24th November 2018,

10:30 - 13:10 or 14:00 - 18:30

The talk-£10

The talk and workshop -£15

20% discount with code CONTROVERSIAL 

Click below to get your tickets:

Image courtesy of:

Are Universities Failing Design Students?


One BIDA member believes they are. In an open letter to BIDA, Wyn Jones, Creative Director of Design Reality described his frustration with the state of higher design education in the UK:

“It’s time for industry to accredit a minimum standard for all undergraduate Industrial and Product Design courses so that students get the educational value they deserve (and pay for), and industry has the quality of graduates it desperately needs. BIDA should be working with industry to set this minimum standard and the time to do this is now.

The recent survey by BIDA shows that the spread of student employability is not changing year-on-year whereby 10 universities are producing quality students and the other 45 are not.

The students entering these courses with no transparency on its quality, and for employers who are looking for skilled graduates to tackle the design demands of the future and candidates are coming up short.”

Wyn Jones explains that BIDA and the design industry should be the ones to protect students and hold Universities accountable:

“What’s needed is a simple accreditation badge that proves that a course gives students half-a-chance of employment in a very competitive market. These 18-year olds have little idea of what they need to learn and what standard is expected upon graduation.

A team of accreditors (made up of designers and academics from the top 10) is needed to provide a rounded in-house and consultancy-led approach to the formation of university curriculum. This will lead to a balanced moderation and, most importantly, standardisation between grade levels and teaching at all universities. Students need to be made aware of the accreditation standards through UCAS ratings so they can make informed decisions about the course they take and their future employability.

Masters level degrees have to incorporate the additional skills required by industry to make the designers of the future. Skills such as electronics, software and mechanical engineering to project management and business are all vital, especially with the pace of change associated with Industry 4.0.”

You can read the full letter here. Do you agree or disagree?  Please add you comments to the debate.

BIDA are planning a webcast to discuss this further.  Make sure you join the debate. Follow our LinkedIn page to receive updates.

Thank-you to Wyn Jones for sending in this open letter, we are proud to have a membership that is passionate about design and willing to challenge the status-quo.


Well done the Design Council for publishing The Design Economy 2018 report last week. This quantifies what most of us in BIDA have known anecdotally for years – industrial designers make a difference and a significant contribution to the economy.

Three key points are made, which we strongly support:


  1. When designers are engaged we create opportunities for growth and improved business performance. However, the roadblock continues to be the rate of uptake for design services, especially by SME’s who still often see design as ‘window dressing’.

  2. We are encouraged to see the primary recommendation for a change to tax credits. BIDA proposed a ‘design and innovation tax credit’ earlier this year and we hope that BIDA members will support the Board in lobbying for an extension to the current R&D tax credit scheme. This is the most effective way of encouraging more SME’s to properly understand our role and benefit from the contribution we make towards growing businesses.

  3. We strongly support the view that Design and Technology, in schools, should be reinstated as a core curriculum subject. Not because we need more designers, but because we need to educate a design aware public that understands the value of good design.


The report provides us with some useful data to help market industrial design and we hope you’ll use it to underpin our value when selling to clients. 

A well attended Pioneering Event

On 18th October 160 De Montfort University (DMU) Design Students used their valuable non-tutored day to attend the first of BIDA’s university ‘roadshow’ engagement events. They heard BIDA Chairman, Steve May-Russell give his insight into the future of Industrial Design and its implications for the next generation of Industrial Designers.

This afternoon event had a range of presentations to give the students an opportunity to gain direct appreciation of day-to-day design practice.

First up was designer, Ben Irvine. He shared his experience of a typical day working at Bluefrog Design and gave a fascinating presentation on one of his projects - the new Thirty6 range of sanitaryware.

Zoe Bryant followed Ben with a typical day at her office.  Zoe is currently a third year student on a one year placement at Smallfry.  She’ll return to Loughborough in September 2018 for her final year.  Zoe encouraged the audience to take a placement year and outlined the experiences and opportunities presented to her.  She hopes to join Smallfry once she graduates.

Paul Surridge from RHL Recruitment, gave the students invaluable advice for putting together their CV’s as well as what prospective employers are looking for.  Paul gave the students several key interview tips.

Carrie Johnson from Patent Attorneys, Barker Brettell, gave an interesting presentation about Intellectual Property; protecting brands, ideas, innovations, designs, business solutions and trade secrets, with a particular slant on Industrial Design and IP assets. 

The opportunity to learn more about specialist manufacturing methods was provided by rotational moulders and precision woodworkers Gordon Ellis & Co and specialist aluminium casting manufacturers Harrison Castings.

The DMU placement team, who also had display material on show, were inundated with questions once Zoe Bryant had given her presentation on the importance of a placement.

Based on the positive feedback from the students, the design faculty and our speakers, the event was judged as hugely successful. BIDA look forward to repeating this ‘roadshow’ format with other leading universities.

Our thanks to DMU for hosting and supporting this pioneering event. We hope to strengthen the links between industry and academia to the benefit of the next generation of Industrial Designers.



BIDA Industrial Design graduate employability survey 2017 results

BIDA’s graduate employability survey once again confirms the value of industry links with a top 5 colleges all having placement schemes and longstanding industry networks. This group includes, in rank order, Loughborough, Brunel, De Montfort, Northumbria and UAL (Central St Martins).

Loughborough and Brunel University in 1st and 2nd place were each selected by over 40% of the total participants. 

A recruiter comments on graduates from this group: “(they have all had) 1 year’s industry experience within an in-house team for a big brand or a consultancy environment. They have a good design process, good sketching and CAD abilities. Have strong sensitivity/passion for user experience, CMF and the latest trends/technologies.” 

A further group of Universities receiving multiple endorsements includes: Nottingham Trent, Coventry, Ravensbourne, Sheffield Hallam, Bournemouth and Glasgow School of Art. 

There’s a long tail tail of a further 45 Universities with either a very few, or no votes. 

BIDA invited our industry to select up to 5 Universities which their experience suggests produce the most employable graduates for industrial design roles. There were a total of 206 participants, many providing detailed comments. The overall results closely match the earlier 2015 survey. 

BIDA is currently conducting a nationwide series of visits to design courses, pairing BIDA members with Universities keen to provide their ID students with extra industry expertise and insights through talks and advice sessions. 

BIDA Chairman Steve May-Russell comments “Our motivation is to raise awareness of the factors which distinguish the very best of UK design education to support the development of future generations of Industrial designers with the right skills. Well done to our top 10!”


THE DESIGN ECONOMY – the value of design to the UK

 Here’s a compelling reason why we need a strong BIDA to make sure we are heard and to get our fair portion of support that UK Government seems to be keen to offer our profession.


The recently published Design Council report The Design Economy, is the first to look at ‘design’ across the whole UK economy and covers a wide spectrum from human centred design to technical design. It covers the period from 2009-2013 so whilst not exactly ‘up to the minute’ it contains some useful statistics that should help us – industrial designers – to do two things:-

  • Persuade clients and senior management alike that good design makes seriously sound commercial sense with success far outweighing the cost

  • Grow exports significantly whether through directly selling our services or by creating world class products

We are productive when measured against the UK workforce and as a subsector we are major contributors showing a growth of 63.2% in the period and along with architecture and the built environment collectively contributed £13.2bn to the UK economy. We might be the smaller of the two but its still an impressive figure.


Having worked together with the DBA (Design Business Association) and APDIG (All Party Design Industry Group) on a submission to Government the Design Council Report is further evidence of the increasing value and power of design in the economy.


The Design Economy Report is available as a download from Design Council website

Take part in the 2017 BIDA Design School Survey

Which UK universities produce the most employable degree level product or industrial design graduates?

You and your colleagues can help inform course applicants and potential employers by taking part in our quick online survey.  Select up to 5 institutions that your experience suggests consistently deliver the most employable BA, BSc or BDes graduates.

In our 2015 survey, two universities featured in the choices of over two thirds of respondents. Many institutions were not chosen by a single designer. 

Do a handful of design schools really deliver graduates that are significantly more employable than others?  Your view is important - please take part at:

The survey closes at the end of May.  Our respondents top five will be published in the Summer.

Plastics Industry Awards 2017

Now in its 17th year the Plastics Industry Awards have firmly established themselves as the forum for recognising and rewarding excellence in an increasingly competitive market. Launched in 2001, and held annually in London this event is dedicated to rewarding innovation and exceptional performance. The Plastics Industry Awards acknowledge the best companies and the best people in the market

UX Design Awards 2017 - Call for Entries

Call for Entries | Deadline: March 31, 2017 | Final Submission: April 21, 2017

Full Details and registration:

 Bestowed by the International Design Center Berlin (IDZ), the annual awards honor outstanding design and intuitive quality in electronic products, digital solutions, services and environments. From this year on, the competition also includes professional concepts, prototypes and research projects. Corporations, design consultancies and agencies worldwide are invited to submit their user-centered product solutions and services until March 31st. All nominated solutions and services will be exhibited from September 1 – 6, 2017 at IFA, the global consumer electronics show in Berlin.

Competition jury

The jury is the core of the UX Design Awards. The independent experts’ many years of experience guarantee the highest quality of the competition. The jury members’ different competencies and specializations ensure a balanced evaluation of the various competition entries in the fields of user orientation and design quality.


Submissions in the following product areas are accepted:

Product Solutions: Launched or market ready products, services, physical and virtual environments

Concepts: Professional product studies, product/service prototypes, research projects


Participation in the competition is open to companies of all sizes from around the world, to design and architectural offices, to communication and PR agencies, to development and engineering offices as well as to consortia comprising of companies, science and academic institutions.

Full Details and registration


Get involved in running BIDA - National Board elections

In August 2016, BIDA members will elect our National Board in open elections.  Members have the opportunity to stand and/or propose other members.  Nominations must be received by July 29th.

Board positions are voluntary and a great opportunity to help to influence the future of Industrial Design education, practice and representation.  If you are not a member already, please follow the simple online process to join and get your vote.  As member you could stand for election, promote and run BIDA.  Please contact if you need more information