A UNIQUE SPACE
Take a 360-degree tour
Join Frazer Bennett, our Chief Innovation Officer, on a 360-degree tour of our design studios, laboratories and engineering workshops. Click, hold and drag your cursor across the video, or pan your phone, to explore every part of our 10,000 square-metre Centre.
The right tools, skills and experience
Our Centre is home to more than 300 of the most innovative designers, scientists and engineers. They work on complex client challenges in a range of disciplines from mechanical engineering to new product design and launch strategies.
We work with you to understand the real desires of your consumers, letting us invent compelling products, packaging and brand experiences. We have the skills and tools to take concepts from ideation to launch under one roof, including the development of the systems and machinery needed to manufacture at scale.
Whether you want to gain genuine consumer insights in our observatory, embrace new technologies in our labs, or test prototype designs and pilot scale production in our manufacturing bays, we can help. Our cross-sector, multi-disciplinary teams will work with you to efficiently deliver ingenious solutions that exceed consumer expectations.
Products we've developed
Our scientists and engineers are certified to design and manufacture medical devices. Coupled with our in-depth knowledge of the clinical and payer environments, that means we're uniquely placed to get innovative devices to market quickly.
Our clinical labs give us the space to innovate the underpinning biology, chemistry and physics, taking ideas through prototyping, regulatory approval and manufacturing. So whether you're an established player in healthcare and life sciences, or a start-up looking to disrupt the industry, we can help.
Products we've developed
OUR INNOVATIONS IN PRACTICE
We're driven by a desire to make a real impact through tangible innovation. And it's something we're very good at.
PulPac: developing a low-cost approach to producing sustainable packaging
PulPac, a Swedish start-up, has developed a production method that can replace single use plastic at a lower cost. The PulPac method makes it possible to dry-mould paper fibres (cellulose) into almost any shape or appearance in less than a second. The fast production speed makes the method very cost effective and the material, generic pulp from cellulose, makes it sustainable. PulPac offers its technology on a licensing basis.
We provided PulPac with a turnkey manufacturing platform to take its products to market. We took an agile approach to innovation, tackling the biggest problem first and creating rapid value. For PulPac, that meant identifying and vetting high-value applications and developing the functionality of the material. For example, food containers need specific barrier properties, whereas cups need water repellence.
Perhaps, just as importantly, our diverse team of experts is providing a full suite of other services under one roof, including business case development, product design, process and machine engineering, and manufacturing. We are helping build the market for PulPac and have introduced the company’s leaders and materials to three global fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands that have become customers. PulPac can maximise its investment dollars by moving swiftly to full-scale product trials and securing significant new business opportunities.
We're driven by a desire to make a real impact through tangible innovation. And it's something we're very good at.
Water Source: providing clean, safe drinking water to unserved communities
Water Source Australia, a B-Corp start-up, is developing a decentralised water treatment facility that cleans water at the community level, a process that could revolutionise the way potable water is delivered to millions.
We helped Water Source create a prototype water purification system. We brought together a diverse team from our Global Innovation and Technology Centre, which provided expertise in digital, business intelligence, circular economy principles, material science, industrial design and engineering, product and system development, and the water industry.
The team carried out a regulatory and market scan; developed a business model, partnership opportunities, and commercialisation roadmap; plotted customers’ user journeys; and built the full Water Source platform.
We worked with Water Source to co-create the IoT interface with agile processes. The unit will be commercialised in both high-growth and developing markets, beginning with Australia, which has some of the most stringent water quality standards in the world.
With this initiative, Water Source helps water providers use digital technologies to build a sustainable business. Water providers will be able to manage, monitor and control a network of water purification systems at the edge using the Water Source IoT-driven platform.
The unit will create potable water from any ‘grey water’ source at more than eight litres per minute and will be commercialised over the coming year in both high-growth and developing markets. It will democratise water access for the world’s populations, while providing valuable analytics on use, quality and maintenance needs that will improve its sustainability in any environment.
Dunnet Bay Distillers: Developing lightweight recyclable packaging for a craft spirits company
Dunnet Bay Distillers, a Scottish distillery that makes gin and vodka, wanted to reduce its environmental footprint and costs as it grew its business. Co-owners Martin and Claire Murray had created a unique product, Rock Rose Gin, that was packaged in attractive, heavy ceramic bottles. However, the Murrays wanted to expand their gin and vodka business in the UK and US and needed lighter packaging that was easier to ship.
The company wanted to use recyclable packaging, which aligned with its brand values. However, the solution would need to be tear-proof, keep alcohol from evaporating and be easy to return for recycling. Martin asked us to find a recycling partner before proceeding to design, so that the distillery could build a network to offer closed-loop packaging.
The joint team agreed that lightweight pouch packaging would meet the company’s objectives. We located a recycling partner, Terracycle. Martin led negotiations with the Royal Mail, winning agreement that used pouches could be returned without envelopes, by simply being placed in UK post boxes.
Our diverse team of experts provided materials analysis, digital modelling, and rapid prototyping of two different pouch designs. Prototypes were tested with customers, and the team moved onto design. Our team included an applied scientist, industrial designer, and design strategist, and the time to initial prototyping took just two months.
The new packaging allows customers to have a bottle for life. It will also increase storage capacity by 400 per cent and decrease shipping costs by £10.20 on every case sent out. Martin and Claire plan to use it for 25 per cent of their business by 2020.
Photobox: Harnessing the power of digital engineering to strengthen a brand
Photobox is the European market-leader in the personalised gifting business operating in 10 countries with ambitious growth plans. Photobox recognised they needed to modernise and future proof their technology, to offer their customers a consistent and seamless shop experience, and to set themselves up for future growth.
We worked with Photobox’s digital team to unlock opportunities to develop innovative digital products, integrate their brands onto a single platform and scale at pace.
Photobox called on us to help rapidly stand-up a team to accelerate the modernisation of Editor, the digital application where customers create personalised products like photobooks. Their old Editor was built on Flash, which Google Chrome, their users’ main browser of choice, would no longer be supporting.
Our team provided expertise in strategic delivery, serviced cloud platform, experience design, front- and back-end engineering, and automation testing to develop the new digital platform from scratch. We then created a mobile version of the platform in just three months.
The new Editor enables customers to create better products, faster. On the operations side, the process of staff adding new features to the Editor takes just days, reducing development costs and increasing the company’s flexibility to respond to changes in the market. The new Editor also improved conversion rates.
We also provided the engineering expertise, architecture guidance and delivery management capability to migrate their underlying platform onto a single platform to include their global Hofmann and PosterXXL brands, and moved their CRM system onto Adobe.
Today, Photobox are well positioned to grow and continue delighting customers.
Tea sheets: Reinventing the tea bag
Consumers, companies and regulators alike are pushing to reduce the use of plastic in packaging as nations around the world struggle with recycling challenges, growing landfill volumes and plastic waste in oceans.
As we met with a leading beverage manufacturer to discuss sustainability imperatives, we had a eureka moment that they could transform tea packaging to be more sustainable. Back at our Global Innovation and Technology Centre, a team of creatives, consumer experts and material scientists conducted multiple experiments to create a new format that would hold tea in place without disintegrating in hot water. This process included consumer understanding, sustainable materials research, product design and development, and manufacturing development.
The team found that a sheet made of lokta pulp held its strength in boiling water without disintegrating. After trying multiple methods, the team developed a new way to press concentrated tea leaves into the material that enabled the tea sheet to hold its structure and avoided steeping, without needing additives. As a result, our tea sheets are suitable for use by all consumers, including vegetarians and vegans due to the absence of gelatine.
We created a proof of concept in six weeks and a working prototype in three months. Our product is a 100 per cent plastic-free, sustainable and compostable tea sheet. By partnering with beverage companies, our tea sheets will provide consumers with a sustainable choice for their much-loved drink, reducing the estimated 6.5 million kilograms of tea bag plastic disposed of each year in the United Kingdom alone.
Notpla: Starting a revolution with a waste-free alternative to plastic bottles
London start-up Notpla has come up with an alternative to plastic water bottles. It’s a flexible container called Ooho, made from seaweed extract, that’s 100 per cent naturally biodegradable. When someone has finished drinking the water they can even eat the container.
We’re helping the business develop the machine to manufacture the containers. Notpla will lease the machine to businesses to use on their premises. The retailers will then be able to produce water or juice filled Oohos daily on-site, rather than taking up storage space with stock. The business ultimately aims to help stop up to one billion plastic bottles reaching the ocean every year, and stop the 300 million kg of carbon emissions that goes with them. As well as using nine times less energy in the production process, the material has the potential to be cost competitive with plastic.
We started working with the business after meeting their team at an event run by the Circular Economy 100 programme in late 2016, and our team of mechanical and process engineers has worked closely with the Notpla team of scientists on developing and testing the machine since mid-2017.
The business hopes to have a small number of machines with clients by the end of 2018. In the meantime, they’re testing Ooho at events like outdoor food markets and marathons. The potential for Ooho doesn’t stop at replacing water bottles. The material can be a substitute for many single use plastics, from ketchup sachets to miniature shampoo bottles.
BDR Thermea: Developing an intelligent heating system to improve energy efficiency
BDR Thermea is one of the world's largest manufacturers of high-efficiency boilers, with annual revenues in the region of €1.7 billion. Faced with increasing competition from new technologies, the company announced plans to develop an intelligent heating system that would make it easier for customers to manage their energy consumption.
Our market research revealed that consumers often feel nervous about interacting with their boiler to manage the temperature of their home, and instead want a thermostat that is attractive and easy to use. Installers also want the lowest-risk installation process.
We designed two separate products – a consumer-friendly thermostat for home-owners and an installer interface for the boiler, focused on making the installation process as reliable as possible. In just nine months, PA's in-house design team developed both products to provide a fantastic user experience and meet demanding cost targets.
Monica Healthcare: Saving the lives of thousands of babies each year
Monica Healthcare specialises in creating innovative wearable devices that monitor the health of unborn babies at home and in the hospital. Its patented technology is based on the acquisition of electrophysiological signals, detected by cordless electrodes positioned on the maternal abdomen.
From these signals, caregivers can remotely monitor a number of critical parameters, including foetal position, foetal heart rate, maternal heart rate and uterine activity. As well as improving pregnancy outcomes, Monica's at-home technology can help expectant mothers avoid a lengthy hospital stay – reducing healthcare costs by millions of dollars.
Our technology experts are working with Monica to develop the next phase of the company's pioneering technology, which is expected to save the lives of thousands of babies each year.
Explore more of our innovation expertise
Read our latest research, get practical tips from the best innovators and see how we put innovation into action.GET IN TOUCH