21 January 2017

Rise & Design in Huddersfield

Jane Lambert

"It is not every office that has a 3D printer chugging away in reception" I thought to myself as I passed through the entrance of the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre in Huddersfield. I was there at the opening in 2012 (see Launch of Huddersfield University's 3M Buckley Innovation Centre 27 Sept 2012). Despite my offer "to help on behalf of my network of patent and trade mark attorneys, solicitors, product design consultants, angels, financial institutions and other contacts with talks, clinics and any other way I can" they had not been in touch with them nor they with me.

The reason I came back was a Rise & Design networking meeting arranged by Design Network North at the Centre between 08:30 and 12:00 on Friday, 20 Jan 2016. The theme of the meeting was "The Power of Collaboration". The event consisted of presentations by:
There were short pitches by various members of the audience and a quick news update by Terry McStea, network manager of Design Network North.

Pete Culmer had already described his collaboration with Richard Hall on his LinkedIn page:
"Richard and his team at Pd-m were commissioned to work with our Surgical Technologies research group on the commercialization of a medical device here are the University of Leeds.

We needed Pd-m’s expertise in converting a research-level concept into an innovative, realisable and manufacturable product which we could present to commercial partners for a license deal.

The project required Richard and his team to work closely with a multidisciplinary team including academic researchers at the university, surgeons at Leeds Teaching Hospitals and commercial partners.

Pd-m were instrumental in helping to deliver a robust prototype for evaluation in a product live trial at the project’s culmination, ensuring that it was a success.

In summary, Richard and his team are a professional innovation consultancy and I can highly recommend them."
 Amanda Scacchetti spoke about developing a market for her company's reconditioned pushchairs which she described as tantamount to a start-up.  She spoke about the coordination of technical and marketing staff within the business, the market research that was undertaken, the financial planning and the not-inconsiderable risks that were taken in the early days. She mentioned the emotional attachment that families develop for their children's pushchairs and how some actually conducted farewell rituals as though they were seeing off a member of the family.  She reported that the scheme has been a success and has actually boosted sales of new accessories.

The last presentation was on the development of a cap for cooling the scalp of patients undergoing chemotherapy by academics of the University of Huddersfield for Paxman Coolers Ltd. The purpose of the cap is to protect hair follicles from chemotherapy drugs by cooling the scalp to a temperature that impedes blood flows. The device is in use in hospitals around the world and patients wearing the cap report relatively little hair loss. Apparently it took several iterations with different tools and materials to perfect the product and several samples of the device were demonstrated to us.  Patrick Burke proudly told us that his company had two UK and two "world patents" for the cap.  Had there been time for questions I would have asked him about Paxman's IP strategy, in particular, the countries in which patents were sought, whether any of the applications had been granted and how they would fund the defence of a revocation claim or an infringement action given the cost of IP litigation in this and other common law jurisdictions. Sadly, there was no time and they left the meeting before I could make my way over to them.

There was, however, time for me to greet Richard Hall whom I have known for many years and with whom I have collaborated occasionally.  It was good to renew my acquaintance with Ian Rowland of Grant Thornton and to meet his colleague, Emily. I also renewed acquaintances with Adrian Sewell who has started to practise as Tandem Patents just outside Keighley and introduced myself to Phil Stephenson of Bailey Walsh. Other folk I met after the talks included Robin Tones of RTC, Gill Watson of Kirklees Council and Leeds LEP, Jason Roebuck of Fizical Design and Tim Stern of AME.

Both the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre and Design Networth North announced some interesting networking meetings which I shall tru to attend in future.