In his spare time, Mark Yeadon, founding Director of c-monsta, is an avid surfer. It was during his surfing trips that Mark became frustrated about the lack of way to allow his surf kit to dry, keep it all together and transport in a convenient manner. This led to the development of an early-stage prototype of a wetsuit dryer, a form of hanger, shaped so that boots and gloves could be hung in an inverted position, allowing them to dry; with a further row that could also hold a wetsuit.
It just so happened that the shape Mark had created looked very much like a sea-monster, and so c-monsta was born!
Throughout the development stage, Mark produced several working prototypes, so he knew the concept was viable and that it functioned effectively.
Mark was looking to work in collaboration with a university partner to develop the product further by enhancing the design, minimising the use of materials, and identifying the best possible materials that could be used in the manufacturing process. Design expertise was needed to make the product fully market ready.
After being referred by Business Gateway in Moray, Carol-Ann Adams from Interface successfully partnered Mark with Nick Bell from the Product Design Engineering Department at Glasgow School of Art (GSA).
The project focused on optimising the design by taking advantage of the product design skills, detailed materials knowledge, and extensive network of manufacturers that GSA has, to develop a design that would have great functionality and could be manufactured at a price point that would make the product commercially viable.
The collaboration was an immediate success, using GSA’s skills and the client’s network of surfers to develop a product that was viable for manufacture in Scotland. Glasgow School of Art has excellent facilities – including 3D Computer Aided Design software, 3D printing facilities and a full wood and metal workshop – all of which were utilised for this project.
This first stage project was funded by a Scottish Funding Council Standard Innovation Voucher.
The novel aspect of this product is the combination of features that allow the surfer or watersports enthusiast to air dry their wetsuit, boots and gloves effectively and without using electrical power. The geometry of the product allows the optimal positioning of the equipment – enabling water to drain out and to allow airflow to quickly dry the kit ready for the next session. By keeping the equipment dry, this design also extends its lifespan.
The added bonus is that the hanger keeps all the equipment organised and in one place – so the surfer should never forget a key item. There are no products on the market that have this combination of features and functionality.
The product has now been developed and sales have surpassed expectations, as more people have been taking up outdoor pursuits such as wild water swimming.
It is hoped that the manufacturing of the final product will be done in Scotland – building on links that both the client and GSA have with Scottish manufacturers and as part of GSA’s commitment to the reshoring of manufacturing jobs. The geometry and manufacturing processes employed will be selected so that recycled plastic material can be used where possible.
The company and academic then successfully applied for a Scottish Funding Council Student Placement Voucher to build on the solid foundation of the c-monsta product design. Callum Leitch, a student from GSA, worked with the company to refine the existing product architecture and materials to make it suitable for the needs of the snow sports market.
Benefits – Company
This follow-on project provided the company with a great opportunity to engage with the knowledge and expertise of the student and academic supervisor – reinforcing the links formed during the initial Innovation Voucher funded project. By utilising the student’s Project Design Engineering skillset, the company is hoping to penetrate new markets and increase sales.
Benefits – Academic
This provided an excellent opportunity for the student to see first-hand the real-world commercial value and application of the skills they had developed during their degree studies and allow them to produce invaluable content for their portfolio.
The project also provided the basis of an excellent case study for the Product Design Engineering (PDE) department at GSA, showing the current students the real-world application of the PDE skills and processes; taking an initial idea right through the development process, through sketches, prototypes, design reviews and ultimately to a manufactured product.
Students do not often get the opportunity to see projects make it to market, so these types of client projects are invaluable at highlighting the value of the skills they are learning. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to show the value of the teaching/research/enterprise linkages, reinforcing the links between the PDE academic staff and Scottish entrepreneurs.
“From the outset, Callum not only brought enthusiasm to the project, he also took a solid analytical, methodical and practical approach to the problem of drying and storing ski kit. Callum’s design skills were bolstered by great communication skills which made him a pleasure to work with.” Mark Yeadon, Director, c-monsta
Established in Inverness in 2004 by Carole MacKintosh, Highland Counselling Services Ltd, trading as Scottish Counselling Services, has grown from a small local service provider into a market leading organisation covering the Scottish mainland and islands with adults, children and young people as their client groups. Scottish Counselling Services provides a confidential counselling service to both the private and public sector for a wide range of life-affecting issues.
Looking to the future sustainability of the business, the lack of suitable software that could handle the varying requirements of the business had reached a critical point. Although Scottish Counselling Services had undertaken their own research, they had been unable to identify a software package that could meet the needs of their individual team members. Scottish Counselling Services (SCS) wanted to work in collaboration with an academic with Computing Science expertise to develop a system which would more accurately meet their needs.
Interface was able to successfully match SCS with Dr Bruce Scharlau of the University of Aberdeen’s School of Computing Science. Dr Scharlau had founded ‘The Software Factory’, an initiative created specifically for industry to realise their ambitions through work with the University to deliver software solutions.
Scottish Counselling Services worked with Dr Scharlau to develop a new system which would enable business growth whilst taking account of secure data storage of records, and efficient work-flow processes. No such system previously existed, so the project output was instrumental in enabling the business to move forward, refining its service offering, thereby securing future sustainability.
The project was funded by a Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Standard Innovation Voucher.
The new online system moved the staff from working with paper forms, a telephone, and managing staff and appointments via a spreadsheet to an online prototype, saving a day per week in admin work. This was all set up within the web application with encrypted records and minimal risks to privacy. The system has proven invaluable to the company.
We are now using our software and I am really enjoying having a focused system that we are all connected to. I am constantly delighted with the feedback from our team and how easy they all seem to be finding it. It has been such a good project for us all. Carole MacKintosh, Managing Director
After such a successful initial collaboration, Scottish Counselling Services and the University of Aberdeen continued their collaboration with work to further develop and advance the software in preparation for commercialisation; enabling it to be offered under a subscription service that could be offered to other counselling providers, introducing a new income stream for the organisation. This application will also enable SCS to improve efficiencies within the business, and thus spend more time on business development, generating additional income in a cost-efficient manner.
This work was part funded by an SFC Advanced Innovation Voucher.
This has been an amazing and challenging project but one that I am really proud to have been a part of. I feel excited about future developments and opportunities that I know will evolve because of what has been produced. Carole MacKintosh, Managing Director
Building on the previous collaborations, an internship was then created to consolidate the ‘lite offering’ of a Session On Demand platform designed to aid secondary and primary schools in Scotland in offering counselling to all of their pupils. This project used the same student from the University of Aberdeen who was involved in the initial collaboration and was funded by an SFC Student Placement Innovation Voucher.
My experience of the project has been extremely positive. The prospect of being part of a team developing a web application from the beginning felt daunting, however the team were supportive and patient throughout. I felt out of my comfort zone many times as I was working in an area that I had no previous experience in, however, we managed to work out what was needed by organically processing and checking out what worked, what didn’t work and what need amending. It came together from actively listening to each other but mostly from the expertise and guidance of the development team. This was an experience I enjoyed and feel that what we have achieved will have a positive impact on our service users and organisations.
The additional commercial benefits include being able to demonstrate our innovation and credibility as an organisation to potential clients. This I feel has opened many doors and also created many more opportunities. It has also helped expand my own thinking on how to create additional opportunities. Carole MacKintosh, Managing Director
Scottish Counselling Services also worked with both the University of Edinburgh Business School and the University of Strathclyde on various student-based projects to aid in the growth and development of their business.