Design to Change Competition Winners

25 May 2021

Competition winners awarded placement at the Cerebra Innovation Centre.

Design to Change Competition Winners

25 May 2021

Competition winners awarded placement at the Cerebra Innovation Centre.

Smart wheel

Bolt Burdon Kemp have announced the winners of their Design the Change competition.

The competition, which is now in its second year, aimed to show how innovative designs can help make a real difference for people living with spinal cord injuries.

No stranger to Innovation himself, Dr Ross Head from our Innovation Centre was one of the judges on the panel.

The winning design came from Thomas Salkeld, a third year Product Design BSc student from Cardiff Metropolitan University. His entry, the ‘Smart Wheel’ is a motorised wheel which can be added to most wheelchairs and offers assistance on uneven ground, elevation and long journeys. It can even be controlled from the user’s phone.

Thomas’s design really stood out to the judges and they were particularly impressed with how he had spent time speaking to several people who had sustained a spinal cord injury and took into account the challenges they face.

Also highly commended was Anna Lis, a third year Product Design student at the University for the Creative Arts.

Anna designed the ‘Superhuman Shoe’, an ankle foot orthosis that provides support for people with drop foot – a common side effect of a spinal cord injury.  Judges were particularly impressed that Anna’s shoe celebrates the support it offers, rather than disguising its specialist features.

Victoria Oliver, head of the spinal injury team at Bolt Burdon Kemp said:

“We were blown away by the quality of the entries this year and it’s fantastic to see how much research went into everyone’s designs. A spinal cord injury is a life changing event that makes even the most mundane of tasks time-consuming, and innovative designs and products can really help make the world more accessible to the 50,000 people living with a spinal cord injury in the UK.
Thomas’s design showed real awareness of the challenges facing those with a spinal cord injury who use a wheelchair and he went to great lengths to make sure his Smart Wheel design was practical, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing.”

Winner Thomas Salkeld said:

I am ecstatic about winning the competition as designing to help people is my passion and what I wish to pursue in the future. The aim of my design was to really take into consideration what the users want and the problems they face every day in regards to their mobility in a wheelchair, then applying my engineering, design, prototyping and technology skills that were necessary. The aesthetics were designed to be functional but also pleasing to the eye, allowing the users to be proud of the product on their wheelchairs. I want to say a huge thank you to a number of people but first to Bolt Burdon Kemp and the judges for giving me the opportunity to participate in such an interesting brief and subject. I would like to thank James Dwyer, Louise Evans and Darren Povey for giving me feedback and a glimpse into some of the struggles they have in wheelchairs which really drove my project forward. Lastly I would like to thank my tutors Joe Venables and Clara Watkins for supporting me throughout the project.”

Both Thomas and Anna have been awarded a week’s placement at our Innovation Centre for their dedication to innovation!

Watch Thomas and Anna talk about their winning designs:



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