Coventry University’s Design Hub, which launched last week, has already signed up 34 corporate companies looking for help with their product design.
The dedicated space will be used for meetings, hot-desking and presentations by design consultancies and product developers based in the Midlands, who will also be able to get design assistance, product development and intellectual property advice.
Nick Rutter, technology director and co-founder of Coventry-based smoke alarm maker FireAngel, has regularly accessed assistance from the university since graduating from it and setting up the company in 1998. He sees Design Hub as the next step in this relationship.
He says design support from Coventry University has helped his company compete against major multinational firms. ‘We trade on our higher quality aesthetic,’ he says. ‘Design Hub gives us access to resources, skills and equipment. This allows a company of 17 people to produce an output with similar quality to a major player like Philips.’
Fire Angel now claims to have cornered 50 per cent of the UK smoke alarm market and has an exclusivity deal to sell all Tesco’s smoke alarms.
‘Design Hub brings in young designers,’ he explains. ‘It’s good to get input from fresh minds. We design smoke alarms all the time and our thinking gets a bit entrenched.’
Design Hub has recently applied for £300 000 of funding to help new businesses launch. ‘We’re looking at new ideas all the time,’ says Design Hub manager Kathryn Stewart.