Posted Thursday 22 December 2022
Kingston University's partnership work with kinetic lighting company Shine a Light has carried off the outstanding collaboration in product innovation accolade at the latest Business, Innovation and Growth (BIG) South London Business Innovation Awards.
The award ceremony took place during the BIG summit, held at the University's award-winning Town House building. The event brought together delegates from business, higher education and local government to share insights on the benefits of working in partnership.
Winners were selected from the businesses and universities that were part of the BIG voucher scheme, which provides funding to higher education institutions to help develop prototypes for small businesses.
Shine a Light is a Kingston based company that manufactures kinetic lights – innovative and movable light fixtures that can be switched on in multiple ways. Kingston University's Dr Pingfei Jiang, a lecturer in engineering design and manufacture, led on the University's contribution to the project funded through the BIG voucher scheme. Assisted by a team of students, Gaith Ghalayini and Manideep Moparthi, he supported the firm's product development, making computer models of the lights which will aid mass production of the prototype as well as working on improvements in supply chains and the sourcing of components for the products. "When I saw that Shine a Light was looking for design expertise, I was keen to help them but also wanted to use this as an opportunity to have students gain industry experience by working on solutions for a company," Dr Jiang said. "The partnership with Shine a Light has been a very productive one and we're grateful for all the help the BIG team has given us throughout this project."
The award ceremony was presented by leader of Kingston Council Andreas Kirsch and leader of Richmond Council Gareth Roberts.
The judging panel of industry experts said the BIG investment funding had "enabled the collaborating academic team to realise the research potential of the company's kinetic lighting product", resulting in a reduction in unit manufacturing costs of more than 25 per cent as well as "improvements in operational efficiency, sourcing of common components, and improvements in supply chains" that means production will now take place within the UK.
Founder Ian Martin said the collaboration with Kingston University and the academic input and insight the firm had gained through the BIG voucher scheme had been hugely beneficial for the company's expansion. "The business has been greatly accelerated in a way which we could not have financed," he said. "The partnership has really helped propel my company to the next level."
The initial design process was led by Dr Jiang and he was assisted by engineering students in making a computer model of the design. The partnership with Shine a Light was able to continue due to a further round of funding from BIG South London, as the original round was for three months.
A number of academics are now involved with the project, including mechanical engineering lecturers Karthikeyan Ramachandran and Constance Gnanasagaran, who are academic co-leads for the next phase. Aayushi Soni, has been appointed as research assistant for the project, to help the company continue to develop its plans for mass manufacturing with large retailers.