Cambridge UK technology design house, Sagentia, has backed the invention by student entrepreneurs of a new pop-up umbrella that can fold flat to easily fit a laptop bag.Sagentia challenged second year product design engineering undergraduates at Loughborough University to re-design either the Anglepoise lamp or the umbrella.
The winning team came up with the ‘Populla’ concept, a pop-up umbrella designed for city workers and students and ideal for short dash situations. The product folds up completely flat to fit in a suitcase or laptop bag for ease and convenience.
Both the Anglepoise lamp and the umbrella are products that are widely known and used with high functionality – but with designs that offer the opportunity to be updated and improved.
Bob Young, programme director for the product design engineering course at Loughborough said: “Having an industry partner like Sagentia supporting this project helps bring a real world dimension to the work our students are doing and enables them to understand the commercial realities involved in product design.”
The students were split into eight teams of five to six people. Each team set about focusing on bringing an existing classic design up to date by incorporating new functionality, greater usability and modern design, techniques and materials. The solution had to be innovative, technically feasible and address market needs.
Having set the design briefs, Sagentia worked interactively with the students to offer guidance at key stages throughout the academic year. Three consultants from Sagentia also joined the judging panel at the end the academic year so that projects were not only viewed from an academic but also an industry and commercial perspective.
During the judging session, each team presented their product concept to the panel, which included details of their market research, concept generation, detailed design, cost analysis and a concept prototype.
The ‘Populla’ team hit upon a novel product concept and also identified a market with a truly un-met need. This ideal combination of factors for a new product went a long way to ensuring that this team were judged the winners.
Richard Gregory, senior consultant at Sagentia, said: “As a product development company we aim to give students briefs that are typical of the kind of challenges they might face once they out working in the industry.
“The students were truly impressive with their projects this year, demonstrating analysis of both technical and commercial considerations in their final designs. At Sagentia we are committed to supporting and encouraging the engineers and product designers of the future and being able to share our experience and knowledge with the next generation is always something we look forward to.”
The initiative is part of Sagentia’s wider academic partnership programme, which aims to bring a real world perspective to students’ learning and to gain access to some of the best upcoming talent in science, technology and design.
The programme includes guest lectureships, developing course material and offering internships and summer placements. Sagentia currently has links with several leading universities both in the UK and the US.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: the winning team with their design