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Scottish Plastics and Rubber Association Scottish Plastics and Rubber Association

Be Inspired to Innovate for Your Future

The event ‘Be Inspired to Innovate for Your Future’, at Stirling Management Centre on 21 September 2011, organised by EDTC Technology Gateway, took the format of a series of workshops in which entrepreneurs outlined their experiences, including successes, setbacks, obstacles, funding and development assistance, in bringing a novel idea from concept to a marketable product. Delegates were then able to question the entrepreneurs on specific aspects of their experiences.

Workshop 1: Kibosh Emergency Pipe Repair

Ross Dickinson, Managing Director of KIBOSH Ltd, described how, as a plumber, he saw the need for a quick temporary solution to burst pipes, to eliminate or minimise water flow until the repair could be completed. With the help of SPRA members and local toolmakers and moulding companies, Cademuir Toolmaking, McLaren Plastics and Glossbrook, he designed, patented and produced a simple device consisting of a rigid plastics hinged moulding with an elastomeric seal and cam locking feature, that can be manually applied to burst water pipes to stem the flow at pressures up to 15 bar.

Operation of the Kibosh temporary repair device for burst pipes
The main barrier to development has been the cost of tooling (£11,000), the cost of patent protection (£10,000) and the selection of the appropriate thermoplastic and elastomer materials. An unexpected setback was the absence of a standard test to prove the functionality. In the end Ross devised his own test rig which could vary pressures and incorporate hot/cold water cycles to convince customers and the British Standards Institute. In March 2011 Ross won a business back-up package worth £50,000 and cash prize of £5000 in the New Start Scotland Bright Business Idea Competition, which helped to pay for some of the development costs, and in August 2011 he was a runner up in the Barclay’s Bank ‘Take One Small Step’ competition. In November Ross takes part in ‘The Pitch’ UK finals as the Scottish heat winner. So far the development has taken over 3 years but Ross hopes to go to market in December. To view a video of the Kibosh Piper Repair System click here

Workshop 2: Funky Moves Interactive Cones

Ralf Klinnert, Managing Director of Funky Moves Ltd
Ralf Klinnert, Managing Director of Funky Moves Ltd and a graduate in electronics from Edinburgh Napier University, developed his taste for innovation after a year’s programme for the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Entrepreneurial Fellowship in 2005. He established his company in 2006 and patented the Funky Moves interactive cone in 2008. The patent is for an interactive sporting apparatus with auditory and visual sensors and a signalling system. The potential market in schools and sports clubs is huge and Ralf probably made the mistake of chasing too many markets by himself in the early days. His first breakthrough was appearing on the BBC programme Dragon’s Den in 2010, where he attracted investment from two Dragon’s although the deal was never finalised.
Designs for i-cone
Since then he has focussed on specific markets, identified a champion in the schools sector, found an investor, strengthened his team with marketing, sales and production expertise and used professional designers to create the ‘i-cone’ which will be in production early in 2012. Discussion identified a need for incubator facilities to help innovators bring their product to market more quickly by accessing a range of sources of help more readily.

Workshop 3: AWS Ocean Energy

Simon Grey, Chief Executive of AWS Ocean Energy Ltd, described his company’s progress in introducing a novel wave power device for renewable energy. The company was set up in 2004 to develop a Dutch wave energy design. The most crucial step since then was in 2008 when the decision was taken to stop development on what was proving to be a non-feasible design and switch technology to a different concept based on a rubber diaphragm.

Scale model (1:9) undergoing trials in Loch Ness in 2010
Since then development has been positive and a 1:9 scale model was successfully demonstrated in 2010. With investment from Alston Power, plans are in place to operate a 2.5 MW prototype by 2013 and to progress to a 10 MW array in 2016. In a complex technological development programme, control is maintained through a stage-gate procedure with feasibility checks and measures of ‘technology readiness’ at regular intervals. The rubber diaphragm is seen as the riskiest element in the design. Although there are no rubber technologists in the AWS team, the technology is based on an earlier design and the team has access to expertise in companies supplying the rubber reinforced textiles and to academic know-how in that particular field. As a piece of advice to fledgling entrepreneurs Simon suggested they should aim to satisfy customer ‘needs’ rather than customer ‘wishes’.

Other workshops during the event were:
UWI Technology: The development of smart labelling for food products to record the elapsed time after a container has been opened.
GYMetrix Ltd: Gym and health club monitoring system
About Tack: innovative saddle and other equestrian equipment.

There was similarity in many of the case studies, in that the process of getting a concept to a marketable product took longer than expected and that the cost of protecting the design and prototype tooling were significant financial outlays before any sales return.

Report by Charlie Geddes, SPRA Hon Secretary, October 2011

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