Helping Innovators Manufacture: Making sure more hardware products realise their commercial potential

Posted on: 30/08/2019

What support is available for innovators on their journey into manufacturing?

Without the right guidance and support, making the leap from prototype to manufacture can be tough.

Manufacturing often requires a whole set of skills and knowledge additional to those required to engineer a functionally excellent product: manufacturing strategy, design for manufacturing and assembly, testing, make-buy decisions, supply chain management, and manufacturing process design. Not to mention investment, licencing and IP! Realising the potential of innovative hardware is frequently more challenging than software-based products. Sadly, although there are some exceptions, investment and support are largely geared at non-hardware innovations.

Dr Abi Hird from KTN’s Manufacturing team is exploring what more can be done to support innovators on the journey to manufacturing. She explores three different approaches for restacking the odds of success:

1.    Build your manufacturing in partnership with a global supply network

Scaling from a low base presents challenges: distribution, customer service, dealing with returns, economies of scale. Partnering with a reputable manufacturer with a global supply network can mitigate those concerns. We asked Steve Ashman, Supplier Development Manager at Sony about the support they provide for innovators:

“Sony UK Technology Centre has been manufacturing in Wales for over 40 years. In that time, thanks to our global network and extensive supplier base, we have gained considerable experience in supporting each stage of a product’s lifecycle Рfrom the drawing board, to aftersales care. This unique environment has also allowed us to extend these services to our customers as a provider of bespoke contract manufacturing solutions.

Our experience has taught us that designing for manufacture from the outset is the most efficient method of product development. By offering support to our customers from the early stages of a project, we can help them ensure that the right components are sourced, the product is scalable and can be manufactured efficiently and cost-effectively.

We pride ourselves in the quality of everything we build. We are innovators, and our drive for continuous improvement and efficiency also means that we remain cost-competitive in a global market place.”

For more information about the service please visit the Sony Pencoed website or, get in touch with KTN for an introduction.



2.    Adopt a connected development philosophy

Filament PD offer support at each stage of the journey – making sure you’ve carefully understood the market and supporting design optimisation before helping you build a supply chain. Craig Lynn, Director at Filament PD explains the philosophy:

“At Filament we believe that everything works better when its connected. From thought processes to physical products, Connected-ness is integral to innovation.

Whether it is tech, experience or business driven, innovation is at the heart of everything we do. Our aim with every product we create is successful interaction between object, user and business. We create impactful experiences by putting people first and solving real problems.

Filament have worked with a number of innovators over the years helping them translate their ideas into viable physical product solutions. We work in collaboration with companies of all shapes and sizes, from global brands to leading disruptive start-ups. No project is too big, too small or too challenging because we tailor our approach to meet your requirements. Every project we work on solves a unique problem, so we use our tested process and design philosophy to let the journey define the destination.

Whether you have the next big idea; want to know how new technology can transform your business or simply need some help on your product development journey Рour friendly team are here to help you on the journey.”

Check out for more details or get in touch with KTN for an introduction.


3.    Leverage expert engineering services

David Cullimore from Prodrive Ventures explains the new arm of the business and a competition designed especially for innovators looking to manufacture:

“We invest in engineering services to help advance projects, developed by entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses, towards commercialisation. The nature of our investments means that we look for physical or hardware projects where our engineering services can add value. However, we are equally interested in the commercial strategy that will turn projects into a sustainable business Рwe can provide assistance in this domain too. Projects with some level of prototyping or proof of concept are preferable. We are sector agnostic and actively look for projects in challenging new sectors.

We invest for several reasons; to bring fresh challenges to our engineers, to promote and create brand awareness for Prodrive and to demonstrate our capability in new sectors. We make ideas happen.

We are working in collaboration with a number of partners on an exciting new project: ‘The RAPID Challenge’. This is a competition specifically aimed at hardware entrepreneurs and early stage businesses. To find out more about The RAPID Challenge visit the website.”

Find out more

The KTN Manufacturing team work to help innovators to manufacture. Please get in touch with Abi Hird if you are interested in supporting hardware innovators with manufacturing or, if you have a hardware innovation you’re keen to commercialise.  It’s our job to connect people and opportunities to drive economic growth.

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