Innovate UK funding early-stage user-centred design

UK businesses can apply for a share of £1 million to build in early-stage design processes that reflect and respond to customer needs and behaviours.

Innovate UK has up to £1 million to help organisations put high-quality, human-centred design at the earliest stages of innovation.

This competition will fund projects across a wide range of technologies and markets. It applies to new concepts as well as testing and improving existing ideas.

Why early-stage design matters
Thinking about what customers, users and stakeholders need at an early stage can show organisations where to concentrate their effort and innovation.

Improving the design process can help to spot flaws, uncover new angles and shed light on what customers are actually doing to inform further research and development.

Previous projects to be awarded grants include Bramble Energy  – a start-up manufacturing printed circuit board fuel cells – broadening the approach to engineering fuel cells, which typically incorporates multiple design cycles. The company intends to go to users first, to develop new products that better meet customer needs and are quicker to market

What makes a desirable product?
Innovate UK are looking for projects that explore what people really need from products and services, and what makes them desirable from a customer’s point of view. It could be about a physical product or the design of digital products or services.

Projects should:
identify and address the problems that customers care about
generate ideas for new products, services or business models in line with customer demand
record their findings to support future development and investment

They must follow an established early-stage design process, such as the Double Diamond model , which divides the design process into four phases: discover, define, develop and deliver.

Project teams should also include experienced design professionals, either in-house or as part of a collaboration.

Get advice on human-centred design, including how to find a partner and access funding, with the Knowledge Transfer Network .

Competition information: the competition opens on 13 August 2018 and the deadline for applications is midday on 19 September 2018 UK-based businesses of any size or research and technology organisations can lead a project. Businesses can work alone or in collaboration with partners total project costs can be between £10,000 and £40,000 you could get up to 70% of your project costs successful applicants will be contacted by 26 October 2018 projects must start by 1 January 2019 and last no more than three months

Find out more about Innovate UK’s commitment to supporting great design in its design in innovation strategy 2015 to 2019 .

To find out more about this competition and apply, click here .

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