And-Design is an industrial design company, which designs and develops 3D products for a range of industries. Life is never dull in their studios, with the team designing such things as a replacement body kit for the Honda Fireblade Motorcycle, games controllers for Playstation, even measuring scoops for Costa Coffee.
The company responds to clients’ requests for design on a product already devised or a new product to fill a perceived gap in their market. But more recently, the creative minds at And-Design have been coming up with really innovative product designs of their own.
In the past, And-Design has developed other products in house, but the designers felt that this new product has real commercial viability and therefore needed early and sustained investment to develop it to the high standard required.
“We were able to design and patent our idea and were ready to progress to the next stage of producing a generic design that could be used in a number of markets. To do this we needed external investment otherwise we probably wouldn’t have got any further,” said Gavin.
And-Design applied for a SMART award (Small Firms Merit Award for Research and Technology), a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) grant for individuals and small businesses in England to develop innovative new products and processes.
Businesses need to apply for awards through their local authority and compete for the grants that are available for different types of projects.
“It’s not easy applying for a SMART award, the application form is detailed and lengthy”, warns Gavin, “but if you have a really sound idea, outline it in a clear and straightforward way and have the business case to justify it, then it’s pretty plain sailing. Business coaching made it easier by helping us to complete the application form in a manner which satisfied the judges and we were finally awarded £45,000 to finance the project in January last year”.
Gavin points out that the SMART funding was a real boost to his company and because substantial progress has been made, further SMART funding might not be necessary.
Last November, And-Design also won the ‘Innovation and Technology’ category in the Wandsworth Business Awards, sponsored by Business Link for London.
With the success of their first project almost assured, And-Design is considering applying for a further SMART award for a separate product it is developing.
“We’ve learned a lot about the SMART award process and feel that there could well be a strong case for further funding, if we present our case properly,” said Gavin.