Six Design Accelerator projects to drive a new generation of green innovation

Design Accelerator 2024

Author: Salah ud Din

Building on the theme of 'communities,' the new cohort of six projects will 'commercialise' their innovative solutions to accelerate the green transition across the UK.  

Future Observatory is delighted to welcome a new cohort of researchers, designers and entrepreneurs who (part of AHRC and Future Observatory’s Design Accelerator Progaramme) will bio-enhance materials for heritage buildings, knit apparel for children and young people with sensory needs and incentivise the reuse of cricket pads: all to provide green solutions within UK industry. Other funded projects will design contemporary architecture using earth buildings and create a digital platform to monitor sustainability for Small to Medium-sized Enterprises.

These projects from the universities of Hertfordshire, Southampton, for the Creative Arts, Plymouth, Sussex, and Bath Spa will commercialise their products, processes and services. Their research will begin in February 2024 and last seven months. 


Accelerating Commercialisation of Bio-enhanced Surface Protection of Heritage Buildings through Industry and Community Engagement (BioBuild)

Prof. Ljubomir Jankovic, University of Hertfordshire

A collaboration between the University of Hertfordshire, UK Hempcrete Limited and Whyte and Mackay Limited has developed an innovative, bio-enhanced surface coating that addresses the effects of climate erosion on lime, hempcrete, and other cementitious structural surfaces. 

 This Design Accelerator funding will enable extensive outreach activities around this new building technology; to engage businesses, trade professionals, and retail end-users to gather feedback and shape the development and roll out of the product. In addition, researchers will optimise the technical design of the coating for efficient scaled-up production, considering manufacturing and marketing parameters and bring a commercially viable and user-friendly solution to the architecture and built environment market.

Bespoke clothing for children and young people with special sensory needs

Odina Keim, University of Southampton

Researchers at University of Southampton will promote zero-waste knitted garment manufacturing and adaptive apparel for children and young people with complex sensory and educational needs.

Building circularity in the textile lifecycle, researchers will test regenerated and recyclable yarns, sustainable yarn standards, and low-emission spinning. The research will use 3D virtual garment sampling to cut time, cost and materials. Furthermore, the project will embed innovative features such as seams, ribs, cuff-free socks, open necklines, seamless construction and adaptable trims to traditional medical garments.

Circular Cricket: Prototyping and Socially Engaged Manufacture of Cricket Pads, using Circular Design, Biomaterials, Recycled Materials and Component Reuse 

Prof. Martin Charter, University for the Creative Arts

The Circular Cricket project responds to the environmental impact of cricket gear production in the UK, the country's second-largest sport; with current annual waste reaching 1624 tonnes. The project aims to disrupt existing practices and focus on creating socially manufactured, circular-designed cricket pads, incorporating recycled and reused components and biomaterials, which are sourced and produced in the UK.

Additionally, the project will provide training for social enterprises to manufacture, repair, and refurbish cricket pads,  reducing waste and promoting sustainability within the sport.


CobBauge for New Futures

Dr Matthew Fox, University of Plymouth

Earth building is a prevalent and sustainable part of the UK's architectural heritage. CobBauge for New Futures will revitalise traditional earth buildings by blending contemporary design and modern fabrication methods. Research carried out by the University of Plymouth will enhance the commercial viability of sustainable vernacular architecture, aligning with the evolving needs of modern life and the construction industry. 

By reshaping CobBauge material (a mixture of subsoil and straw), redefining building types, considering digitisation's impact on production, and ensuring occupant comfort amidst climate changes, the project will maintain ultra-low carbon standards, minimise waste, and prioritise local material production. This design-led transformation hopes to rejuvenate cob buildings for a sustainable and resilient future.


Designing Sustainable Digital Futures

Jo Lindsay Walton, University of Sussex

In this project, the University of Sussex will respond to the evolving challenges of net zero, biodiversity loss, and planetary boundary preservation by supporting small organisations to navigate the complexities of sustainability. The project leverages academia and research to provide accessible resources and advice on addressing carbon pollution, e-waste, and water use.

Their creative integration of design, storytelling, and the arts will illuminate the complexities of digital sustainability for diverse audiences and guide the selected organisations in forging their paths toward sustainable digital futures. 

Looking for the Cloud

Dr Coral Manton, Bath Spa University

Looking For The Cloud examines how design can make the abstract workings of the Cloud (and the internet) visible. The project aims to create an active role for young people in shaping the future of computing, AI and climate change that centres informed action, local knowledge, repair, reusability and sustainability. The project will be based on Cornwall, sharing the key role the county has in networked communications and innovation. Within this project, the team will work with groups of young people across Cornwall to co-design a physical computing and storytelling kit. 

These six projects are part of the Design Accelerators Programme, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and coordinated by the Design Museum's national research programme, Future Observatory: Design the Green Transition.

 Congratulations to all involved!


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