ERDF project case study: Co-Innovate

Sound Forms Ltd collaboration

The Co-Innovate platform has created new and distinctive journeys to enable SMEs to build relationships and access user-orientated research and design facilities and expertise from Brunel University. The £1,000,000 project has connected SMEs to state-of-the-art open innovation practices at Brunel to identify, design, develop and test new or significantly improved production and/or supply methods. A package of advice and support was developed and implemented to enable SMEs to access multi-disciplinary research expertise combining design, engineering, business and innovation management.

Ongoing support and activities with participating SMEs includes research and development projects with staff and students. The programme also includes the provision of skilled / graduate placements to provide an innovation resource for the SMEs to develop and test new products, services and processes. All placements have academic staff support to assist in providing the necessary research and development expertise to the SME.  

How ERDF has helped an SME

Veil is a lighting product prototype designed by Brunel student James Ward for a UK-based SME that is redefining outdoor performances with revolutionary acoustic shells. A unique acoustic panelled system creates a superior acoustic environment for performers on stage and provides significant sound projection towards audiences, housed inside a beautifully designed tensile structure; Sound Forms Ltd is the world’s leading outdoor acoustic stage.

The cutting-edge Sound Forms Acoustic Shell was winner of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) International Achievement Award of Excellence in 2012, the World Architecture Festival Awards 2012 and BD Architect of the Year 2014.

“Having the chance to develop my computer-aided design (CAD) skills, perform research into embedded electronics and gain access to the workshop facilities were what I appreciated most from doing the project,” said James, now working as a designer for contemporary lighting design installation company LUUM. “They’re what I’ve carried on into my current working life.”

Collaboration with an authentic and inventive company demonstrated professionalism to James’ present employer. Designing Veil with industry constraints in mind, also prepared him for communicating with clients and manufacturers. “It remains a work in progress, but we are interested in developing the product with James,” says Executive Chairman, Mark Stephenson.

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