A children’s cutlery set and a musical memory box for dementia sufferers were the winning designs in the Women With Bright Ideas competition, held at Wiltshire College in Lackham.
The Dragons Den-style competition was launched by the Engineering Innovation Network South West to celebrate National Women In Engineering Day, and 25 budding entrepreneurs and designers from all over the country entered their ideas.
The seven best entries were presented to an audience at Wiltshire College in Lackham on Friday, October 17 and scrutinised by a prestigious panel of judges for their commercial viability.
In the end, two products stood out and the judges were unanimous in having a joint winner: The Musical Memory Box designed by Chloe Meineck to aid people with dementia, and doddl an ergonomically designed cutlery set which will revolutionise mealtimes for young children, designed by two sisters, Rosie Phelps and Catherine Dodd.
Women With Bright Ideas judge and NT CADCAM’s UK sales manager Ian Weston said: “The standard was very high. The entries ranged from a fully portable Comms Cube that could give businesses instant internet access to an ergonomic mouse mat and novel fertility treatment.
“All the finalists had found a gap in their specialist fields and pushed through it with hands on experience. It was tremendous fun as well as being very enlightening as all the ideas were revolutionary in their approach. It was a very difficult decision but I think we chose the best of the best.”
Fellow judge and EIN-SW project manager Haydn Earl said: “All the finalists were winners and EIN-SW is committed to helping them all get to market. These two products particularly stood out. This competition was all about getting those bright ideas out of your cupboard or garden shed and onto the road to becoming a commercial reality.”
doddl winner Rosie Phelps said: “Winning the Women With Bright Ideas competition is a great launch pad for our doddl cutlery.
“It is an exciting new product, which makes eating easier for toddlers with a unique design that helps children grip and control the cutlery more effectively. By stabbing or scooping the food more accurately, the child can develop from using a palmer grip to a pincer grip.”
doddl director Catherine Dodd added: “Women need to know that engineering is not what you may stereotypically think of - someone in a boiler suit up to your neck in grease and complex parts. It can be something much more subtle, simple and refined. z
“Financial support and advice is available from organisations such as EIN-SW, who have helped us with developing our first prototype and it has been invaluable in getting to this stage.”
Chloe Meineck’s Musical Memory Box wowed the judges as the University of Brighton graduate explained how she uses music to stimulate memories for dementia sufferers.
Tactile objects are placed in the box and when the object is placed in the centre, using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, it plays a tune from their past that prompts a memory.
Chloe said: “It becomes a talking point for family members on visits that can sometimes be difficult. New objects can be added to make it a very personal and bespoke box.
“I made a box for one gentleman who could not recognise himself in the mirror, but when he placed an object that represented a happy memory with a certain piece of music associated with it, he was able to remember his family.”
All the finalists received advice from intellectual property lawyer Jessica Bent from Withy King Solicitors and an inspirational workshop from Joni Farthing, founder of Women Outside The Box, while NT Cadcam is supporting both winners with any CAD design and support that they might need and a day with Angela Hobbs at Triteq.
Sheena Awdry of EIN-SW said: “The event has been one of the highlights of the Engineering Innovation Network South West project. It exceeded our expectations with the number of attendees and the interest it generated. The feedback has been very positive and we are looking forward to working with the winners and runner ups to get them all to market.”