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Ingenious inventions shortlisted for design awards

Blackwood’s design awards receive dozens of entries

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Glasses for computer users who don’t have the use of their arms and a wheelchair that goes up and down steps are just two of the shortlisted entries battling it out in a Dragons’ Den inspired event to find the next rising star of design.

The Blackwood Design Awards discover, and champion, new and innovative ideas which aim to improve standards of living for those with physical or mental disabilities.

Dozens of ingenious entries were received for the competition and the nine inventions on the shortlist have now been revealed, with a blink-controlled, hands free phone system and a body-temperature regulating cushion for wheelchair users making up the finalists.

The competition will take place on Friday 20 January at the Dundee Contemporary Arts centre and will see the selected inventors pitch for the top prize. This year, for the first time, it will be made up of two distinct categories – Best New Product, in which there are four finalists, and Best New Concept, which has five shortlisted entries.

The winner will receive a cash prize of £2,000 from sponsor Kingdom Gas, and backing from Blackwood to make their creative design into a working reality.

The competition has seen its previous winners go on to achieve great success, and this year’s entries have come from all over the globe, with competitors located as far away as China and Russia.

Last year’s winner, Grant Douglas, was delighted to see his S’up Spoon product – an unspillable spoon to aid those with shaky hands as a result of cerebral palsy and Parkinson’s – take home the coveted prize.

He said:

“We entered Blackwood’s Design Awards last year, as we share its aim to enable disabled people to live as independently as possible through designing accessible products in a way that is pleasing to the eye.

“Over the past nine months, the S’up Spoon has been featured on BBC One’s Songs of Praise. We’ve also donated 10 spoons to a voluntary organisation that helps disabled people in South Africa, and it now has packaging, so it can be sold in shops and is currently on sale via Amazon.

“Having won the competition, it is fantastic to know that our product is now revolutionising mealtimes for people around the world, and we wish all those shortlisted this year the very best of luck. Take it from us – it truly is an incredible opportunity.”

Colin Foskett, Head of Innovation at Blackwood, believes the competition is a perfect example of the Blackwood ethos and says this year’s move to two categories will double the chances to identify and champion breakthroughs that improve life for those with disabilities. He said:


“We’ve been delighted with the way the annual awards have caught the imagination and developed into an important way to bring through genuinely revolutionary products.

“By having the additional category for this year’s competition, we are aiming to support, and promote, even more new design talent. Some of the products we have previously seen have benefited the lives of so many people and the designs by this year’s nine shortlisted finalists are no different.

“At Blackwood, our aim is to enable our customers to live their life to the full and by investing in future technologies and equipment we believe we are successfully able to do this.

“Many previous entrants have gone on to achieve great things so we wish all our finalists the best of luck for this year.”

Pictured: The eye-wink, a system to control a phone without hands, which uses winks to go back and forth in the options. Very useful for anyone who has limited hand movement or poor dexterity in their fingers.

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