A Walk In The Dark

Ask yourself, where was I on the evening of the 28th April? If the answer wasnt “Doing a charity walk in the dark to raise money for a local cancer treatment centre” then shame on you!

Luckily for you, our MD Iain, did do the walk. So you can ease your guilty conscience by donating some money to the Rosemere Centre here.

The Annual Walk in the dark event is an 11 mile walk from Chorley to Preston hosiptal, where hundreds or walkers brave the elements (and the A6) in order to raise money for this fantastic cause.

Walk in the dark

£10m Innovation Loans Competition

Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network have announced the details of briefing events across the UK for Innovate UK’s innovation loans competition for manufacturing and materials readiness projects, which will open for applications on 26th February.


What does design contribute to the UK economy?

We wanted to share this great article, recently published on www.wandc.com


What does design contribute to the UK economy?

A recent government report has shown that industries in the design sector created £71.7bn in gross value added (GVA) in 2013. The Design Economy 2015 research investigated the economic value that the design industry contributed in recent years, and clearly illustrated the benefits of this sector.

Between 2009-2013 the design economy GVA increased by 27.9%, compared to an increase of 18.1% across the total UK economy.

Designers make up between 5 and 15% of the manufacturing industry, reflecting their key role in the specification of products.

Design Council Chief Executive John Mathers stated,

“Design Council has long recognised design’s contribution to economic growth, and this new report provides evidence of how investment in design is helping to raise productivity, stimulate growth and make Britain more prosperous.”

There are close to 580,000 people working in the design sector, but there a further million people who work in a design role in other industries. These statistics show that the design economy can be seen as the ninth largest employer in the UK.

John Mathers explained,

“The figures in our latest report speak for themselves. The design economy is creating thousands of jobs, exponentially improving British export markets and contributing billions to our economy. It is vital that it is recognised and supported in order for this growth to continue. That’s why Design Council’s role is more relevant than ever. We will continue to support organisations to use design, driving up productivity across areas of the country and in sectors where its full potential is yet to be fulfilled.”

Posted at – http://www.wandc.com/what-does-design-contribute-to-uk-economy/

URBAN studio photos

Great to see these studio photos of the URBAN football training product. This product is going from strength to strength, now available at a range of large retail chains.








New Sabre Video

Football Flick URBAN in action

Check out the amazing skills of one young URBAN user.


Well done Timecode Systems!

Great to see the success of one of our Product Designs


Made in the UK?

Wondering what is still made in the UK? Here is an interesting piece from the good old BBC on the subject.


With fuel and labour costs rising in the Far East, we should see a rise in the UK’s manufacturing competitiveness. 4D are keen to use UK based suppliers where possible.

Biomedical Catalyst Funding

“A £180 million government fund to help innovative small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and academics to develop solutions to healthcare challenges will open for applications at the end of April.

The Biomedical Catalyst is a key element of the Strategy for Life Sciences launched by the Prime Minister in December last year.  It will see the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Technology Strategy Board working together to take the best British medical breakthroughs through to commercial success.

The Biomedical Catalyst will be open to SMEs and academics, and will accept proposals from sectors that have the potential to provide significant positive healthcare and economic impact.  It will support the development of innovative technologies emerging from partnerships between clinicians, academics and industry.

Three categories of grant awards will be available through the Biomedical Catalyst scheme – feasibility, early stage and late stage.  Any SME or academic undertaking research and development, either individually or working in collaboration, may apply and applications will be accepted at any time.   Individual grants to businesses will range from a maximum of £150,000 for feasibility awards to £3 million for early and late stage awards.” – Mersey Bio News 12April2012

5 Steps To Successful Product Development

What is success? To different people it means different things, but for our clients successful product development usually means commercial return on investment. They know product development costs time and money, but they know it can lead to long term profit for their business.

1) Know your market – This includes understanding the motivations of your potential customers, and knowing your ‘route to market’. Its easy to assume an good idea will turn into a successful product. If you have a sales team talking to customers they should know what end users want, and if there are any un-answered needs that could be exploited.

If you don’t have this close contact then you need to speak to a cross section of potential users. Not friends and relatives, people who wouldn’t mind telling you the truth! How do they currently solve the problem your product aims to solve? Do they even experience the problem? What is a solution worth? Who would they trust to solve it for them?

You also need to understand the pricing structure associated with your route to market. How much profit does a retailer want? Is a distributor the best way to go? A retail buyer is a great source of information, both in terms of pricing, and in knowing what their customers want.

2) Invest in skill and experience – Bringing a product to market requires a range of skills including market assessment, planning, design, protecting intellectual property, production, marketing, and sales. Each link in the chain is critical, and should be delivered by the right persons. Communication between disciplines is also important as each will have different reasons for wanting the product to be a certain way. If everyone understands the others drivers and concerns, they can collaborate closely to reach a common goal. Success is driven by the leader of such a team. Entrepreneurs are often highly skilled in motivating people, they can sell their vision of ‘the bigger picture’ to the people who are needed to make it happen.

The team may only be one or two people, or hundreds, but the basic principals remain the same.

3) Test and refine your concept – The story of James Dyson making over 1000 prototypes to refine his bag-less vacuum cleaner is often quoted. This is an extreme case, but a period of prototyping, testing and refining is key to optimising a product. This cycle could be repeated indefinitely as refinement is an ongoing process. The point at which to move on to the next stage in development is when the criteria set out in your design specification has been met, and all stake-holders in the project are behind the idea and will back it with the necessary vigour for it to succeed.

A production look-a-like prototype is great for gauging opinion on price from potential customers. Your target price should already be known, but would people pay that for your design? Could you charge more because the design team has added some ingenious new features?

4) Tell the right people – Create a buzz around your new product. Can you identify an opinion maker or respected figure in your product sector? A positive review from such a person can help to ‘de-risk’ your new, unknown product and bring it to the attention a wider audience.

Sometimes new regulations force people to look for new solutions. If you can anticipate such events it can be a great opportunity as customers suddenly become legally obliged to purchase something that meets the new rules.

Forums are great for spreading the word amongst specific consumer groups, such as new mothers, or DIY enthusiasts. If you have helped someone to solve a problem in a new and improved way, they may want to share this good news with other like minded individuals.

Trade shows and exhibitions are the time when key people in certain industries are in one place at one time seeking out what’s new in the market.

Magazines are on the look out for things that would interest their readership. Not blatant adverts for your great new product, but well written informative copy that seeks to inform and/or entertain the reader. There’s nothing to stop anyone writing a press release and sending it in for consideration, but someone with experience in PR and marketing will have a higher success rate in getting things to print. Shopping chanels are also on the look out for something new they can sell to their viewers.

5) Deliver – So you have gone to all the effort to develop and produce a great new product. Whoever you are selling to wont remain loyal for long if you don’t deliver your goods on time and to expected quality levels. Retail buyers need to keep shelves stocked, so if you let them down they may have no choice but to replace your product with one from a more reliable supplier. Remember that people buy off people, so maintain good relationships.


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