Navigating the design to manufacture journey

Posted on: 09/04/2020

Turning an idea into a scalable, commercial product is a challenge that faces many entrepreneurs, innovators and SMEs. Developing a new product, new functionality or new customer experience can be difficult, and the design to manufacture process must be given careful consideration to ensure that development costs and timelines are managed effectively.

Navigating this process can be daunting and good communication between stakeholders is vital. By understanding what designers and manufacturers care about, it will be easier to establish the good relationships and processes that will avoid costly, time consuming changes further along the development process.

KTN in partnership with Product Design Scotland delivered an exciting and informative programme during #Lockdown with experts from across the design to manufacture space. Experienced innovators and specialists such as innovators, SMEs, spin-outs and academics, technology providers/systems integrators, design consultancies, contract manufacturers and investors gave their own perspectives on the challenges and important considerations that inform early stage product development.


Navigating the Design to Manufacture Blog Series

We’ve crafted some articles and guides following the events to share some of the key takeaways, approaches and thinking. We hope you enjoy them.

For up-to-date events, funding opportunities and news, see our programme page here.


Articles and Guides


Why your hardware startup might have stalled: a systems-thinking perspective

Systems thinking is employing a mindset that focuses on the relationships between elements (components, decisions, activities, perspectives) rather than focusing on the individual things themselves. Applying a systems approach can enable complex, uncertain and challenging projects to be undertaken with progressively less risk.

Basically, it means think holistically and incrementally mature information for richer and better-informed decision making. Find out how to apply a systems-thinking mindset here.


Top Ten Resources for Hardware Innovators

These are our top ten resources to help innovators navigate the design to manufacture journey. Guide


Managing Costs

Cashflow challenges can sink brilliant ideas. Failure to plan where investment is coming from pre-revenue can leave you stuck.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to manage costs in your manufacturing journey. The right strategy for you depends on the nuances of your project. However, some general principles apply. Find out what you should consider when managing costs on your design to manufacture journey here.


Event Recordings

There were 12 topics in the series, each one recorded and available below:


Managing Costs

Planning funding beyond a prototype, managing cashflow, considering costs of manufacturing and designing with costs in mind are just some of the challenges that innovators as they navigate the design to manufacture journey.

A recording of the Managing Costs webinar can be found here.


Building a Business Case

Often innovations are technically brilliant! However, to successfully traverse from design to manufacture, the opportunity, the offer and the capability of the business must align.

A recording of the Building a Business Case webinar can be found here.


Scaling Manufacturing

Getting from a prototype to scaled manufacturing can be a huge chasm for innovators. Often funding dries up and a whole raft of unanticipated challenges emerge. This recording helps prepare innovators for what is ahead and offers top tips and insights based on a wealth of experience.

A recording of the Scaling Manufacturing webinar can be found here.


Design Processes and Principles

Having confidence that a great solution has been developed is the result of good design. It’s critical to make sure you have a product that addresses a well understood need, is usable and delivers desirable functionality at an acceptable cost. Design can add value in many ways.

A recording of the Design Processes and Principles webinar can be found here.


Optimising product Value: Design for the Circular Economy

Sustainable design is not a trend. It has more to offer than a “feel good” appeal. Making solid business sense for an economic point of view and from a resilience perspective, careful consideration of how your product is made, material sources and how its lifetime can be extended can enable you to offer more value to you customers, result in higher margins internally, and reduce environmental impact.

A recording of the Optimising Product Value; Design for the Circular Economy webinar can be found here.


Start-up Mindset and Building a team

This webinar offers advice from a range of perspectives on topics that we are rarely directly asked about, but which are incredibly important to investors and absolutely essential to ensure start-up success. The webinar focuses on how we develop strong and healthily approaches to success and failure and build a team and culture that’s going to enable success.

A recording of the Start-up Mindset and Building a team webinar can be found here.


Intellectual Property

Innovators need to understand intellectual property better if they are to make more informed decisions and get their products to market successfully. This webinar looks at how to protect our products when developing hardware products working with third parties and why you may want to protect (or not protect) your IP.

A recording of the Intellectual Property webinar can be found here.


Investment and Funding

Critical to bringing any product to market is the careful consideration of funding and investment. This is of particular importance to physical product start-ups due to the scale of the costs associated with manufacture and distribution. Awareness and insights can make all the difference. This webinar offer invaluable perspectives on the landscape and how best to approach it.

A recording of the Investment and Funding webinar can be found here.


Risks, Regulation and Standards

This webinar looks at the different challenges and approaches associated with risk, regulation and standards.

A recording of the Risks, Regulation and Standards webinar can be found here.


Building Supply Chains

An accessible and affordable manufacturing process ought to be considered and planned early in the design journey. This webinar explores how to think about scale up and, importantly, how to build the relationships to make it happen.

A recording of the Building Supply Chains webinar can be found here.


Networking and collaborating

How do you navigate sharing your ideas with strangers? What benefits can it bring and what impact do collaborators have on your idea development? Hear the philosophies of some experienced leaders in this field and get some top tips in this webinar.

A recording of the Networking and Collaborating webinar can be found here.


Design Thinking and Systems Principles

This webinar explores the importance of inter-dependencies and gradually maturing information across integral decision areas and how a systems approach has been proven to help realise better results, mitigate risks and reduce time and cost overruns.

A recording of the Design Thinking and Systems Principles webinar can be found here.



Get in Touch

At KTN we are all about connecting for positive change. If we can help your startup, business or research organisation find the right connections to help evolve your idea, please get in touch.

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