On April 9th, Product Design Scotland and Knowledge Transfer Network launched the online event series; Navigating the design to manufacture journey.

A weekly lunchtime programme of events designed to tackle the many challenges that face entrepreneurs, innovators and SMEs when undertaking the design to manufacture journey that comes with creating a new product, new functionality or new customer experience.

The series is an opportunity to hear from representatives across the design to manufacture space. Experienced innovators and specialists share their own perspectives on the challenges and important considerations that should inform early stage product development.

We’re delighted to be able to share the recordings from the events that have taken place; meaning that you don’t need to miss out if you didn’t manage to make it along on the day – simply take a look below and catch up on our series.

Managing costs
15th April | 1200-1300

Planning funding beyond a prototype, managing cashflow, considering costs of manufacturing and designing with costs in mind are just some of the challenges that innovators as they navigate the design to manufacture journey. The first session in our series covers an important topic – one which is frequently overlooked until it is too late!

Hear about some key topics from our engaging speakers:

Tips on how to avoid common pitfalls when outsourcing design, the value of creative pragmatism and avoiding a funding shortfall.

Insights into why scope definition and good prototyping strategy are critical to managing costs.

The importance of thinking about the feasibility and cost of manufacturing processes – how to strike the right balance between desirability, viability and feasibility.

Building a business case
22nd April | 1200-1300

Often innovations are technically brilliant! However, to successful traverse from design to manufacture the opportunity, the offer and the capability of the business must align. It’s no mean feat!  The second session in our series covers an important topic, one which is frequently overlooked until it is too late!

Dr Jake Larson, Knowledge Transfer Manager, Design and Innovation Effectivenessktn

Mark Shayler, Founder at Ape

Professor Tim Vorley, Deputy Dean & Professor or Entrepreneurship

Scaling manufacturing
29th April | 1200-1300

Getting from a prototype to scaled manufacturing can be a huge chasm for innovators! Often funding dries up and a whole raft of unanticipated challenges emerge. This session prepares innovators for what is ahead and offers top-tips and insights based on a wealth of experience.  Forewarned is forearmed!

John ToalTharsus

Mick Karol, MD, Blueprint product solutions

Adam Barmby, MD of BAMD composites and Founder and Technical Director at EAV Cargo– Electric Assisted Vehicles Ltd.

Design processes and principles
6th May | 1200-1300

Having confidence that a great solution has been developed is the result of good design. It’s critical to make sure you have a product that addresses a well understood need, is useable and delivers desirable functionality at an acceptable cost. Design can add value in many ways! For the fourth week in the series, our expert panel provide some insights to design processes and methods and the benefits they can bring.

Will Mitchel, Design Director, 4c Design Ltd. Chair Product Design Scotland

Derek LiddleInvent Design Build


Optimising Product Value: Design for the Circular Economy
13th May | 1200-1300

Sustainable design is not a trend. It has more to offer than ‘feel good’ appeal. Making solid business sense for an economic point of view and from a resilience perspective, careful consideration of how your product is made, material sources and how it’s lifetime can be extended can: enable you to offer more value to you customers; result in higher margins internally and; reduces environmental impact. Win, win, win!!

Circular Economy and sustainable design is high on the agenda of Government, Policy makers and Funders. If you want financial support for your ideas, thinking long-term and about environmental and societal impact is increasingly important.

“Circular Economy and sustainable design: framing your approach”

“Good Engineering design for circular economy”

Insights from developing and supporting successful CE start-ups

Startup Mindset and Building a Team
20th May | 1200-1300

Successfully launching a start-up requires exceptional stamina and resilience. Is determination the right strategy, at any cost? When should we heed repeated knock-backs? How do we develop strong and healthily approaches to success and failure and, how do build a team and culture that’s going to enable success? This week offers advice from a range of perspective on subject that we are rarely directly asked about, but which is a) incredibly important to investors and b) absolutely essential to start-up success.

Hear about some key topics from our engaging speakers:

“Top reflections from Enterprise Hub”

“How to build a team: what to consider and when”

“Learning from failure”

Intellectual Property
27th May | 1200-1300

IP can feel like a minefield! This topic has surfaced repeatedly in questions each week and is something we recognise innovators need to be better informed about if they are to make better decisions and get products to market.

We all want our ideas protected – when developing hardware products working with third parties is essential and as a start-up we only have so much clout. In this week’s instalment, we hear from three experts on how and why you might want to protect (or not protect!) you IP.

Hear about some key topics from our engaging speakers:

  • Marta Guarisco, part-qualified Patent Attorney, Scintilla

A flythrough masterclass in IP”

Strategy and tactics for securing IP”

  • Alison Orr, IP valuator, Inngot

How to use your IP to best advantage”.

Investment and Funding
3rd June | 1200-1300

Critical to getting any product to market, careful consideration of funding and investment is of particular important to physical product start-ups due to the scale of the costs associated with manufacture and distribution. Awareness and insights can make all the difference. This week our speakers offer invaluable perspectives on the landscape and how best to approach it.

Hear about some key topics from our engaging speakers:

The funding landscape for start-ups”

“The perspective of a successful innovator on funding hardware products”

  • Janice Cuningham, RBS

“An investors perspective”

Risk, Regulation and Standards
1Oth June | 1200-1300

Hardware development is fraught with risks. There is risk to the project inherent in the uncertainty of design and the progressive impact of changes made late in the process.  There is also responsibility on the developer to consider the efficacy and safety of the product through its life-cycle. Can it be manufactured and used as intended? Are there unintended consequences that due care could avoid? Regulations and standards exist to protect users and manufacturers as well as the hardware developers themselves. In this session, we’ll hear about different challenges and approaches associated with risk, regulation and standards. This is a broad topic and we will just scratch the surface but there will be an opportunity to ask questions during the Q&A session.


“Risk in product design”

  • Rory Ingram, Product Realisation team lead, AFRC

“Thinking about regulation and risk in hardware development for high integrity sectors”

“Creating a culture of safety”

Building Supply Chains
17th June | 1200-1300

One of the most common things we get asked is “can you help me find someone to manufacture x, y, z”. An accessible and affordable manufacturing process ought to be considered and planned early in the design journey. Often it is an after thought and this is an approach that creates problems. This session will explore how to think about scale up and, importantly, how to build the relationships to make it happen.


  • Jay Bal

“Hardware start-up supply chain development”

“Thinking about low volume and prototyping whilst planning for beyond”

  • Reshoring UK – TBC.

Network and collaborating
24th June | 1200-1300

Successful hardware development is never a solo endeavour. This journey requires diverse skills and expertise and, if reaching full potential is your mission, building collaborative partnerships with others is absolutely essential.

How do you navigate sharing your ideas with strangers? What benefits can it bring and what impact do collaborators have on your idea development? Hear the philosophies of some experienced leaders in this field and get some top tips for doing it like a complete pro!


“Membership organisations and innovators clubs- being with likeminded people”

Connecting to learn and innovate”

Design Thinking and Systems Principles
1st July | 1200-1300

The last session in our 12-week series is about considering the challenges of navigating the design to manufacture journey holistically.

We underline the importance of thinking about inter-dependencies and gradually maturing information across integral decision areas rather than locking down decisions in a siloed and sequential fashion. A systems approach has been proven to help realise better results, mitigate risks and reduce time and cost overruns. Some leading thinkers explore how these approaches can be applied to navigating the design to manufacture journey.


“Futureproofing and culturing an innovative mindset”

  • Neil Stone, LeapStone, (Former head of Design, British Airways)

“Design led innovation”

  • Martin Aston, Brunel Challenge | Airbus

“Systems Thinking for hardware start-ups”