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Sparks of brilliance from Brighton students
Buy this photo » Dorota Biniecka with her BEV system
In the popular television programme Dragon's Den inventors pitch their lifetime’s work to five potential investors.
Sometimes they come good – Levi Roots and his Reggae Reggae Sauce or Blindsinabox – but more often than not they fall flat with the familiar sound of “I’m out” from the panel.
Some have the product but not the business brain, while others have the business brain but not the product.
Fewer have the skills needed to present it.
So many times contestants are taken apart on their pitches, scurrying down that spiral staircase empty-handed.
It takes something special in the current financial climate to come up with a product worthy of investment. To create something which is original, useful and practical is a rare gift.
Innovative But judging by some of the inventions from the University of Sussex’s BSc product design final year students, that talent appears to be not quite as rare as first thought.
Course design tutor Mark Jenkins said: “As part of their final year, students have to come up with an original idea and take it from a concept all the way to being able to pitch it.
“There’s a lot of research involved and I think that the projects this year are some of the best we have ever had.”
The current crop have produced a wide range of innovative designs with everything from artificial limb modifications and advanced operating tables to musical instruments for deaf/blind children and an allergy detector.
The course’s 28 students are currently gearing up for a special exhibition at the Amex where they will showcase their products to potential investors.
Student Michael Hollins, 21, said: “It’s a year of our lives put into one product.
“It involves everything from coming up with an idea to research and then designing, building and eventually exhibiting.
“There are some really good products here and some people have already been working with companies, with others having already gone through the patent process.
“We’re all really looking forward to the Amex exhibition and the chance to showcase our work.”
See Michael Hollins and fellow student Sam Tarrant speaking about their work in the video.
Dorota Biniecka's Beverage Serving Solutions
Dorota Biniecka took two things you would not normally associate together to produce a stylish, functional and sustainable product.
She focused on the ever increasing hot drink market and incorporated her love of origami.
The result is Bev (Beverage Serving Solutions), a cheap, portable and stylish drinks dispenser.
She said: “The philosophy behind the product stems from the importance of first impressions as well as people’s natural instinct to draw on their bodily experiences in creating social reality.
“As such Bev is designed to express care for business associates and improve their experience at a visited company.”
She aimed to make a product to not only invoke feelings of care towards business customers and staff but also help reflect a company’s culture.
Additionally the product is easy and safe to use, not to mention considerate to the environment.
The eye-catching origami design, which helps contain the warmth of the drink, is also used to make the cups and saucers.
Tutor Mark Jenkins added: “It was thoroughly researched by Dorota and is something which is very different.
“It’s a fantastically innovative product and importantly has space for branding.”
Mary Dickinson's Helix Privacy Screen
Mary Dickinson's product looks to improve the everyday working environment of the office.
Her research found that the vast majority thought there were too many distractions in an open plan office as well as not enough privacy.
Additionally evidence suggests that indoor air pollution may pose a “serious acute and chronic health risk”.
The fourth year student decided to design a product that would not only deal with the issue of distraction and privacy in the office but also that of the quality of the air.
And after a year’s work she came up with the Helix Privacy Screen.
The portable and adjustable screen is different from many others as it houses a discretely integrated aeroponics system which facilitates the growth of English ivy.
The plant, which hangs from the top, is one of the most effective at removing toxins from the air.
Aeroponics is the growth of plants in air or mist without the need of soil. Roots are housed inside the product, which are sprayed periodically with water and nutrients to help it grow.
LED lights are also placed on the underside of the screen which not only stimulate growth but also showcase the ivy.
Mark Jenkins, the course’s design tutor, said: “Mary’s product is really fantastic and has been carried out in association with a company called Adapt near Silverstone.
“As a result she has been offered a position after graduation which is a really successful outcome.”