Design Council reveals Spark programme finalists

Expanding plant pots, nosebleed suppressants and a “portable baby rocker” are among the designs vying for a share of £150,000 of funding to take the products to market.


The Design Council has unveiled the finalists for the second year of Spark; its product innovations fund and accelerator programme.

The 13 inventions – including an origami-inspired expanding plant pot and a lightweight camera rig that can shoot Hollywood style video effects on a small budget – have been selected from hundreds of entries, and will go on display during the London Design Festival.

On the day itself, overall winners will be chosen by various product innovation, investment, manufacturing and retail experts. Up to four winners will go on to receive a share of £150,000 funding to help them develop their products commercially.

“Design-led thinking”

Another £50,000 is also up for grabs for finalists that have designed their products to assist people with arthritis, in partnership with Arthritis Research UK.

Terry Tyrell, recently appointed chair of the Design Council and founder of Brand Union, says: “Spark is a fantastic example of how design-led thinking can turn a good idea into a brilliant product.”

“It’s very exciting to see such a diverse range of innovations develop and head towards market, and this event is an important celebration of our finalists’ hard work.”

We outline five of the finalists below:

Begum and Bike Ayaskan: Growth

Growth image

These twin sisters, aged 26, first came up with the idea for expanding plant pots while sitting in a garden in Turkey, when they noticed the way in which a particular plant was transforming as it grew.

The origami-like patterned structure of Growth is designed to mimic this growth. “We wanted it to transform by unfolding over time,” they say.

Wendy Minks: Noseclip

A trainee oral and maxillofacial surgeon at Newcastle University, Minks’ first invention takes the form of a device designed to stop nosebleeds.

It is designed to help the 15% of the population who suffer with regular nosebleeds, or first-aiders in sport settings to stop the bleeds simply and quickly.

“I became frustrated treating nosebleeds in the accident and emergency setting in hospitals and felt there must be a better solution to prevent uncomfortable and inefficient treatment for the patients I encountered,” says Minks.

Danny Kane, Craig Lynn, Matt Marais and Gregor Aikman: LOKI


These four design consultants’ latest idea takes the form of a compact camera support that transforms into a shoulder rig, providing a stable filming base.

The concept started out as Marais’ degree show project while studying at the Glasgow School of Art, and has now been updated as a lightweight, portable device.

“I was looking at how I could bring Hollywood-style cinematic effects to the indie filmmaker, which resulted in a modular tripod that could transform between different modes for either smooth gliding video or stable handheld shots,” says Matt.

Alastair Moore: Ambulo Folding Crutch

A former taxi driver who retired due to an injury, Moore’s folding crutch is a travel aid for long-term crutch users.

“A few years ago, I was looking for a crutch that would be suitable for me to take when travelling or socialising,” he says. “I didn’t see anything which met my requirements, so I got thinking and inventing.”

While the crutch folds up to a small size, it is still able to sustain more weight than a regular travel crutch and offers a more comfortable grip.

Matt Sparrow, Matt Dyson and Nick Webb: Rockit


Rockit is a portable baby rocker that can be fitted to prams, strollers, buggies and pushchairs, designed to gently rock and soothe the baby when the pushchair stops moving.

“When my daughter was small, she would often wake up at the supermarket checkout when the buggy stopped moving,” they say.

“I made a prototype portable buggy rocker one night at about 2am, using an old printer motor with a weight attached and a simple circuit to control the speed. This would help keep her asleep for 20 minutes or so – more than enough time to sort out the supermarket shop without the stress of a screaming baby!”

The 13 selected inventions will go on display on 20 September at London City Hall as part of LDF. Find out more about the finalists here.

Hide Comments (2)Show Comments (2)
  • Hari August 24, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Very ingenious! British Design Thinking is alive and well! I love the expanding plant pots!

  • Chris Finnegan August 24, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    If you’d like to attend the Spark 2016 innovation showcase, you can register your interest here:

    If you have any questions about Spark, our finalists or the event, email me on and I’ll try my best to answer them.

    See you at City Hall.
    Marcomms Manager, Design Council

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