What financial help is available to help fund your product idea during the UK lockdown

Do Design during lockdown

This second Lockdown is going to be a long 30 days for everyone in England. From busy medical professionals; those who’ve recently been made redundant and those who are furloughed, no one is going to be finding this month easy.

Many of us will be using this time to relax and catch up on reading or completing that series on Netflix that you never got round to watching. However if you have an itch to scratch in the form of a product idea why not take the plunge and start that project you have always dreamed of? Best place to start is do some research, find inspiration in your idea – read one of our favourite Do Books – Do Design – “why beauty is key to everything” by Alan Moore.

In the studio since late March, we have found more and more people getting in touch with lockdown product ideas which they say they’ve always wanted to work on, but never had the time or capacity to do.

One of the main reasons they say they haven’t enquired about the next steps is due to funding. More often than not, investing personal funds or getting a loan to invest in a product idea which may or may not work is too much of a risk. So what help is available for UK entrepreneurs, start-ups and SME’s now and not with a million strings attached?

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What help is available to you in the UK to get your product off the ground

Aetha Design is aware that finding funds to get your product idea off the ground is always hard. Sometimes, it’s hard to know what it actually takes in terms of time and budget to get a prototype or drawing. We are always happy to give a free (no obligation) consultation to budding entrepreneurs or SME’s. We then will supply you with a proposal and quote for the work providing it is a project which we believe is suitable for us.

Often and unknown to many, there are grants, match funding and incentives available in the UK to help entrepreneurs, start up’s and SME’s with innovation and product design.

We know of two programmes currently available which may be of interest if you are at the start of your journey. One we have a lot of experience with personally, is for Dorset based businesses. This grant is with the lovely people at the Arts Institute Bournemouth (AUB) who have access to a European Regional Development Fund.

How the AUB can help you bring your project to life if you are based in Dorset: 

The innovation team at the AUB can help you access vouchers which allow businesses based in Dorset access their world-class facilities, which include SLS 3D printing, CNC routing, 3 and 5 axis CNC milling for prototyping and testing. Trust us when we say, their facilities are top of the range.

The team at AUB also facilitate match-funded Innovation Vouchers which support businesses undertaking Research and Innovation projects. Recipients can claim back up to 50% of their financial investment in small research projects.

Vouchers are supported by their workshop events which allow businesses to develop new skills, experiment with new equipment and make contacts with like-minded businesses across the region. For example their Meet the Maker workshops which Tom from our team hosted during 2018 and 2019 in conjunction with the AUB design team and focus on applications of technology and design theory.

If you would like to learn more about how the AUB can help you bring your idea to life and if you are based in Dorset, please contact Daniel Cox Knowledge Exchange Manager dcox@aub.ac.uk and Lucy Devall Innovation Manager ldevall@aub.ac.uk We have helped businesses with their design projects in Dorset with AUB match vouchers including Evenly,  Totem Camera Systems, and The Memory Booth  For more info on the AUB grants please click on their website here.

What if you aren’t based in Dorset but you still have a product idea: 

If you are outside of the Dorset area, there are also SME innovation grants for IP and prototyping which have been brought to our attention. The team at the Sussex Innovation Centre offer grants from £1,000 – £5,000 available to help any business start up or innovate in the UK. The grants again are available on a 50/50 match funding basis for revenue or capital projects relating your own innovation. For more information or to apply direct – contact Saffron at the Sussex Innovation Centre saffron@sinc.co.uk This match funding can help you with the below:

  • Legal consultation for patent & trademark applications
  • IP licensing advice
  • Physical Prototyping
  • Technical certification
  • Available to SMEs nationwide.

What if you need more than match funding of up to £10,000 to get going:

Some of our clients have been very clever. They have used the above to help them prototype their product, research and develop their design and then they have moved onto big crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indigogo to raise money to pay for their tooling or first batch of orders. Our clients Cupple did exactly that and raised £62,000 on Kickstarter during their 30 day campaign. They are now in the position to pay the balance of their tooling and for their first order. They haven’t sold any of their shares and they are just about to launch in a retailer in the UK this December.

Our friends at Fussy have also used Kickstarter to get their product off the ground. These guys have launched their refillable deodorant which hopes to turn the tide on single use plastic for good and have just over 2 weeks to go. We ordered some for our design team when they first launched.

There are always ways to innovate and get your design ideas off the ground. They aren’t always easy and they often take hard work and effort but something tells us that this time for reflection is going to make people in the UK think outside of the box and possibly take the plunge. Fussy and Cupple both launched their campaign during the first lockdown period and have been successful with raising the much needed funds they needed.

How can we help: 

Our team at Aetha can help with your application for either grants, however the expert teams at AUB and Sussex Innovation will be pleased to advise too.

We helped Cupple with their Kickstarter campaign. Although that’s not really our day job we are happy to advise. As a product design consultancy, we specialise in: Design Process Improvement, Concept Ideation, Sustainable Design, Product Research, Competitor Analysis, Conceptual Design, Engineering Design, Rapid Prototyping, Packaging Design, Lean Manufacturing, Waste Reduction and Design for Manufacture.

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