Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Rise and Design Online: A Webinar for Designers in Northeast England on Designing our Way out of Lockdown

By User:John_the_mackem - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,

Jane Lambert

On 20 Jan 2017, I attended a "Rise and Design£ networking seminar in Huddersfield on the Power of Collaboration (see Rise and Design in Huddersfield  21 Jan 2017 IP Yorkshire).  I subsequently found out that "Rise and Design" was just one of a number of services offered by Design Network North which "was established in 2007 with the aim of increasing the contribution that design makes to the economy." The project is delivered by RTC which claims to be one of Europe's leading technology transfer companies with offices in Sunderland,  Leeds and Daresbury, The "Rise and Design" seminars are held at different locations in Yorkshire and North East England each month and some of those locations are a long way from my home. For that reason, I did not attend any more until last Friday.

Since lockdown began, Terry McStea, Head of Design Network North, has held informal conversations over Zoom for designers and others interested in design in North East England and Yorkshire on most Fridays between 11:00 and 13:00.  I have attended several of those sessions and learned a lot about the design sector in those regions.  Graham Archer of Archer IP has also attended some of those events, Consequentially, he or I or both of us have participated in an occasional discussion of intellectual property.

Last Friday, Design Network North held a webinar or online Rise and Design networking seminar entitled Rise and Design: Designing our Way out of LockdownThere were about 60 names on a delegate list that Terry circulated shortly before the event  There were formal presentations from Matt Atkinson of Radical Panda, Dave Swan of Tharsus, Angela MacOscar of Northumbrian Water, James Rutherford of Kick Cards and Helen Short of AQCT. There were also interventions from Karl McKraken of the North East LEP and Jane Anderson of JCA Consult.

The webinar was conducted over Zoom which enables participants to assemble in small groups like breakout rooms in conventional conferences.  Before the presentations began I was allocated to a breakout toom with Matt, Angela and Karl where we introduced ourselves.   About halfway through the webinar, Terry divided us into different breakout groups.  On that occasion, I met Helen and Jo Gooding of Design Research Associates.  These were very useful opportunities to get to know the delegates and speakers a little bit better. My only criticism of them is that they were very short.  However, had they been longer it would have been impossible to fit all the presentations and interventions into the timetable.

Radical Panda's mission is "to be a trusted partner in helping businesses to understand and manage digital transformation".  It offers a variety of services from analysis to crime scene to the automotive, construction, defence, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and security industries.  On the Eventbrite booking page, Matt wrote:
"Many businesses are embracing digital technology to cope with the current restrictions, whether that's selling products online to Zoom meetings with clients. But there is a danger that we choose the first solution we come across. Matt will describe his approach to understanding where the real gains can be made, and some tools to help you explore new ways of working and services to offer."
In his presentation, Matt described the methodology by which his company identifies the appropriate solution for its customer.  He shared a slide with "Strategy" on the extreme left and "Implementation" on the extreme right with large connected hexagons in between.  One of the hexagons was labelled "Inspiration" and the other "Ideation". He discussed each of those elements in his remaining slides.

Tharsus is a product design consultancy which aims to partner customers "from initial concept to commercial delivery,"  On the Eventbrite page, Dave had written:
"Now that social distancing has become the norm, keeping employees and customers safe has become a major issue for busineses. Tharsus have responded to this by developing bump, a wearable device that helps individuals maintain a safe environment, and allows businesses to monitor the effectiveness of the systems they've put in place. Dave will give us some insights into this new technology and it's creation."
In his talk, Dave discussed the "Bump" which is a wearable personal motion system that warns the wearer when someone is too close for his or her personal safety.  According to the company's website
"It uses tried and tested radio frequency technology to alert people instantly when they’re too close. It’s peer-to-peer, GDPR-compliant and allows wearers and site managers to access the whole system’s analytics in the cloud."
Dave, who is Chief Technical Officer, spoke enthusiastically about the product without slides or notes and stimulated a lot of interest when the discussion was opened to the audience.

As its corporate name indicates, Northumbrian Water is the water utility for much of Northeast England but Angela added that it also has customers in Essex and Suffolk.  For the last four years, the company has held an Innovation Festival.  This year the Festival will take place online between 14 and 17 Sept.  Angela described previous events and discussed the preparations for the 2020 event which will encourage participation from all parts of the world as well as Northeast England.

Kick Cards is a tool to facilitate business discussion and ideas generation.  They are James Rutherford's own creation.  James describes himself as a "startup engineer" or, more precisely, as a "Web Service Developer // CTO for Hire // Creative Technologist."  The cards are sold in packs. Each pack consists of:

"42 Prompt Cards
To gently guide you with simple questions into powerful discussions 

4 Aspect Cards 
Try these to approach any of the Prompt Cards from an unusual viewpoint 

3 Outstanding Discussion Cards. 
Teams can use these to keep conversations productive 

7 Instruction Cards
How to use Kick Cards in different settings and tips for getting the most from them 

Access to a large online resource 
Extensive background info to bring more value to each card"

James demonstrated his product and described its uses in his presentation. 

"AQCT" stands for "Absolute Quality Consultancy and Training". The company offers management Systems and Training built around customers' businesses.  Helen leads the company's consultancy services.  In her presentation, she described those services and explained how they benefit their customers.

In his intervention, Karl summarized some of the services available the LEP's match funding scheme for small businesses in the North East.  In her intervention, Jane described her consultancy's Staff Wellbeing Framework Model,

Design Network North publishes Rise and Design A Guide for Beginners which contains useful information for any networking event and not just Rise and Design. I found last Friday's Rise and Design event to have been one of the best online seminars on any topic that I have ever attended.  I would strongly recommend those events to anyone with an interest in design.  I would also commend the informal Friday drop-in conversations.  Anyone wishing to attend one of those events can register here. 

While this Covid-19 emergency continues, anyone wishing to discuss this article of any of the topics mentioned in ti should clerk on +44(0)7986 948267 or send me a message through my contact page while this emergency continues.

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