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Search launched for product design ideas which push back the limits of arthritis

Published on 15 November 2016
Matthew Barrett displaying Handy Fasteners

Arthritis Research UK is once again partnering with the Design Council to find innovative product design ideas that offer practical solutions to the challenges of living with arthritis.

Design Council Spark is a support programme and fund designed to help people turn their idea into a commercially successful product. We're specifically looking for applications from people with a good idea that will help people with arthritis live better.

Successful designers will receive £15,000 for initial product development, as well as a place on the Design Council 16-week programme providing expertise and one-to-one mentoring.

Following the initial intensive programme, the entrants who can demonstrate a clear commercial solution that will help people living with arthritis, will be given the opportunity to pitch their idea for a further £50,000 with ongoing support. A maximum of three shortlisted projects will be funded by us, with at least one project receiving a share of up to £50,000.

This year's winners

In 2016, Handy-Fasteners, the brain-child of three Sheffield University graduates won this category (demonstrated in the image above by co-designer Matthew Barrett). The magnetic clothes fasteners can be retrofitted to existing garments, replacing fiddly buttons, and will make getting dressed independently much easier. The team of designers will now receive funding to bring their product to life, with a view to getting it on the shelves soon.

Ezi-Plug, a fresh take on the domestic plug and socket, was a highly commended product. With Ezi-Plug, the socket guides the plug in and automatically aligns the pins, requiring very little pressure or precision.

Olivia Belle, our Director of External Affairs, said: "At Arthritis Research UK, we know that arthritis can have a huge impact on everyday life. The way a product is designed can affect daily tasks, and for some people with arthritis it can limit their independence."By harnessing the power of design we can help people with arthritis break free from the limits of their condition."Olivia Belle, Director of External Affairs

"We believe that by harnessing the power of design we can help people with arthritis break free from the limits of their condition. That’s why we’re really pleased to be working with the Design Council once again this year.

"Programmes like Spark are essential to help many innovators bring their product to market and we are happy to extend our partnership for another year."

How to apply

The online application process is managed by the Design Council. Please visit the Design Council for more information.

The deadline for applications is 10 January 2017. If you have any queries or want to discuss this with a member of our team, please get in touch with Sarah Odoi or Paul Thornhill at

For more information, go to
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.