28 February 2024

Rise & Design in Marshall Mills

Author Steve Buxton Licence CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed  Source Wikimedia Commons


Jane Lambert

"Rise & Design" refers to Design Network North's free monthly networking meetings that take place on the second Friday of every month.  Design Network North is a project delivered by RTC North.  According to its website RTC North is "one of Europe’s leading technology transfer companies with a trusted reputation for delivering services in innovation and business growth." Its head office is in Sunderland and it has branches in Leeds and Daresbury.

I was introduced to Design Network North when it held a Rise & Design meeting at the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre in Huddersfield on 20 Jan 2017.   I wrote about the event in Rise & Design in Huddersfield on 21 Jan 2017.  Most of its other meetings have taken place in  Gateshead or other venues in North East England which is a long way to travel for a morning networking event,  

However, during lockdown, Terry McStea Head of Design at Design Network North held formal or informal online discussions for entrepreneurs, designers, makers and their professional advisors almost every week.  As I live on my own I was very grateful for those sessions because they helped me to keep in touch with the rest of humanity during that difficult period.  I discussed some of those events in Rise and Design Online: A Webinar for Designers in Northeast England on Designing our Way out of Lockdown 16 June 2020 IP North East, The Impact of EU Exit on the Health and Life Science Sectors 19 Nov 2020,  IP North East, Rise & Design: Wearable Tech Webinar 13 March 2021, IP North East and The Bright Side of Death 14 Oct 2021, IP North East.

On 23 Feb 2024, Design Network North held a Rise & Design in the Chapter Hall of the Northern Monk brewery in the Old Flax Store of Marshall Mills on Marshall Street in Leeds.  The Chapter Hall is at the top of several flights of stairs of a building that does not have a lift,   As I am still nursing an injury that I sustained in a ballet workshop nearly 2 years ago I had to work hard and take my time to reach the meeting room.  Happily, ample supplies of hot drinks and sausage and bacon rolls rewarded our exertions.  I was one of the first to arrive and I made several new acquaintances over those refreshments before the meeting began.

Eventually, Terry called us to order and invited us to greet and exchange pleasantries with the person sitting next to us.  I met Sharon Sheard of Medola Comms on my table.   Terry then introduced Design Network North and the day's topic which was "The Power of Innovation".  He explained that innovation meant a new way of doing things which could include inventions but the concept was much wider than that.  Changing the way we communicate with customers, manage our staff or find new suppliers can also count.   Each of the speakers discussed a different aspect of the concept.

The first speaker was Fiona Conor, Managing Director of Trust Electric Heating Ltd. who had been on her feet when I arrived at the UK RI's Innovate Local event at Dean Clough Mills on 14 Nov 2023 (see Innovate Local Visits Halifax 29 Nov 2023). Mrs Conor's husband had invented a wall-mountable electric heater for which their company had sought a European patent.  Apparently, the initial design had been unpatentable but Mr Conor introduced some refinements which satisfied the examiners.  The speaker also told us that part of the development work had been undertaken by a university with Knowledge Transfer Exchange funding.   There was a short debate on the merits of collaboration between businesses and universities in Mrs Conor's Q&A in which I participated.

The second speaker was Darren Evans of the Engine Room whom I first met when the consultancy was based in the Huddersfield Media Centre.  Mr Evans is an engaging speaker whose abiding message was that one's brand is one's business and vice versa.    He discussed the case history of Paxman Coolers Ltd. which has developed a device to cool chemotherapy patients' scalps thereby preventing or reducing hair loss.  I remembered that that device had been featured at the Rise & Design meeting in Huddersfield just over 7 years ago.  I remarked in the Q&A that it had been impressive then and was even more interesting now.

The last speaker was Richard Hall of pd-m who is a product design consultant.   I have known him for many years and have chaired many meetings at which he has been the guest speaker and also shared platforms with him on more than one occasion.   He had been one of the speakers at the Rise & Design meeting in Huddersfield in 2017.  He always has something interesting to say and I think it was the opportunity to hear his presentation that attracted me to that Rise & Design meeting in Huddersfield.  Last Friday's event was the first time we had met since lockdown. pdM has grown over the years and has taken on new staff.  Most of its work is in the medical devices sector.   

After the talks, I gave a short pitch for the Initial Advice and Signposting service that I am relaunching from the Barnsley Business Village (see Relaunch of the Barnsley IP Clinic 16 Feb 2024) and promoting the IPEC Small Claims Track in Leeds (see Bringing or Defending a Small IP Claim in Leeds 8 Feb 2024). Incidentally, I have offered an Iittial Advice and Signposting service in the North East as well as Yorkshire since 2020 (see Initial Advice and Signposting in North East England 24 May 2020 IP North East)  and its has been possible to bring small IP claims in Newcastle upon Tyne as well as Leeds for several years (see Small Claims Track IP Litigation in Newcastle upon Tyne 19 July 2019 IP North Easr.

Both the Yorkshire and the North East England initial advice and signposting schemes operate on a triage basis.  If, for example, it appears that a client needs to see a patent attorney I will try to make a free 30-minute appointment with one which can take place by phone, Zoom or in the attorney's office.  One of the new connections that I made on Friday was with Greg Carty-Hornsby of Marks & Clerk.  He also gave a short presentation immediately after me and he has kindly agreed to give users of our initial advice and safeguarding service who need to meet a patent attorney up to 30 minutes of his time.

The last presenter was Ian Barber of IT consultancy Reach Aware Ltd which offers IT support and outsourcing.

Terry announced that the next Rise & Design meeting will take place in Newcastle.  There will be a video link for those who cannot attend in person.  He also promised a return to Huddersfield on 7 June 2024.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article may call me on 020 7404 5252 during normal business hours or send a message by my contact page.