Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Back in the Den, Our New Episode To Air Sunday 2nd!

Last year James and I breathed a sigh of relief as we walked away from The Den with the best offer ever seen on the programme, all of the Dragons' pledging to invest in our water transport, sanitation and storage device, for the original equity offered.

Despite a record breaking result, Red Button Design were awarded £45,000 in grant funding from Oxford Said Business School, prompting James and I to take the difficult decision to suspend this original deal. We continued to progress and retain 100% of our equity, spending this money from Oxford (and subsequent funding and support secured from NESTA and Scottish Enterprise, amongst others), producing a fully working prototype.

Since the prototype was lovingly completed by James back in August, we elected to get back to the fearsome five and ask if they'd like a second chance (or should that be 'to give us a second chance'?) at an investment. Of course, almost a year down the line, 20,000 pre orders in the bag, prototype in the office, field trials ready and waiting, we are no longer looking for £50K seed funding. This time we're asking for £200,000 towards our half a million pound project and the BBC were there to see what happened.

Will we escape the wrath of the Dragons' a second time?*

Tune in to find out: Sunday 2nd November, 9pm BBC2

* no really, will we? We don't know yet either!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Red Button Design Inform New NESTA Innovation Programme

Last Monday, James and I attended a "Youth-Led Innovation Seminar". A pleasingly unpunctuated and ambiguous name for what is an incredibly meaningful piece of research commissioned by NESTA, The National Youth Agency and Changemakers, to analyse current practice around youth-led innovation.
Not an Innovation Seminar that itself, was Youth-Led!

In brief, this seminar brought together young people, youth practitioners, and ‘thought leaders’ with four goals in mind:

1: To share experiences and examples of youth-led innovation;
2: To identify some of the challenges with which young people are faced as they lead innovative projects
3: To examine what makes a successful youth-led innovation project
4: To explore how NESTA might best facilitate youth-led innovation in the future.

The outcome of this research will inform the development of a new NESTA programme designed to support youth-led innovation. The project is ongoing, and The NYA and Changemakers are currently carrying out 20 case studies of youth led innovation in the UK for publication, and developing a guide for practitioners in supporting YLI.

Red Button Design are extremely flattered to be one of these 20 case studies of successful youth-led innovation*. We're very excited to continue to work with NESTA and appreciate how great an opportunity this is to have our opinions not simply heard and recognised but actually acted upon, in what we hope will be a groundbreaking and highly implementable new innovation programme.

* I'm not sure if we're more flattered that we still count as 'youthful' or for being considered one of the most 20 'innovative' Companies NESTA could find to lend it's tagline, "Making Innovation Flourish", to!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Back from Geneva

Back at RBD-HQ, James and I are only just finding the time to reflect upon what a fantastically positive set of meetings we had in Geneva.

The feedback on our progress so far, and the suggestions as to how best to further develop the product to provide the maximum 'bang for buck', were staggeringly positive considering we are (admittedly) at an unusually early stage to have warranted the time and attention of the world's biggest NGOs.

Possibly the two most instantly significant of the many outcomes were The IFRC (The umbrella organisation which supports and enables the work of each of the National "Red Cross" and "Red Crescent" societies) offering to field trial the units, at their cost, in a location of our choosing; whilst the World Health Organisation have a Water and Sanitation Officer stationed in Delhi that they will put us in contact with to assist us when we begin our field trials in Mewat.

Slightly surprised as we always are with such a positive reception, we're aware that gaining this reputation for "getting in early" and being open to collaborations can work heavily in our favour contrasted with Companies, many years established in the commercial sector, who have a finalised product and cannot react to the recent changes in the Humanitarian sector. Increasingly NGOs are looking away from community and personal level water solutions and investing in household level solutions serving 2-5 people, rather than 2,000-5,000, or individuals, respectively. The established industry are having problems responding flexibly to this shift in focus - which is where we come in!

Business aside, we even squeezed in the time to take a look around Geneva (which, if you haven't been, is a stunning city), visit CERN and indulge in some of the legendary cheese fondue and swiss chocolate.

Left to right:

At the UN Offices, outside the WHO,
Lake Geneva, at CERN

Monday, 6 October 2008

Red Button Design Travel To Geneva

We're heading off to Geneva, the 'humanitarian capital of the world', this afternoon for face to face talks with Policy Makers, Procurement Officers, Logistics Experts and WatSan Engineers to promote the ROSS to the larger Humanitarian Agenices.

We already have meetings confirmed with the International Committee Of The Red Cross (ICRC), The International Federation Of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), CARE International and the World Health Organisation (WHO), as well as having 2 contacts at the Geneva base for United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

So we should be kept pretty busy!

I get the feeling, however, we might somehow find the time to made a date with one other acronym ... CERN

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Change The World

Following on from my previous post regarding the Make Your Mark event, I would like to share my goodie bag with you!

Well, not literally. I'm afraid that would be a logistical feat not even James could overcome, recently qualified though he is. But I wanted to mention one of the most interesting gifts, a book I have been meaning to buy myself entitled "change the world for a fiver".

This book is part of the "we are what we do" movement promoting the completion of simple actions, which have very little impact on your life as an individual, but when combined will effect significant social and environmental change.

As well as being a fantastically simple concept, beautifully executed, they have a great website. So rather than talk about them here too much, i'd suggest you have a look over here if you're interested. And you should be! The book, one of several they publish, is full of excellent suggestions that will improve your life, the health of this planet, and society as a whole.

You can buy the book below but why wait 'till it arrives to start the good work. Sign up on the website and challenge yourself to complete an action! Today I am carrying around a thermos and getting coffee shop baristas to fill that up for me instead of using their disposable cups. With my incessant coffee drinking I alone may save the planet with this new action! ;o)

Change the world.