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Grand slam victory for motorcycle helmet design

01 December 2010

A new concept for a motorcycle helmet has earned Bournemouth University (BU) graduate Jack Hooker a £2,000 prize from Santander Universities after winning the 2010 Santander Design Grand Slam. Now in its second year, the ‘Design Grand-Slam’ is open to individuals and groups currently enrolled on BU’s Commercialisation Programme with a relevant design-related project.

Three business-savvy judges heard pitches from Jack and four other Grand Slam participants, before deciding who would benefit from an immediate £2,000 cash injection from the partnership between Bournemouth University and Santander Universities, to support the further development of their ingenious ideas. 
 This year’s judging panel featured John Hedges, Institutional Relationship Director for Santander Universities; John Davies, Managing Director of UK-based Ventus Innovative Products and guest presenter on QVC television; and James Walker, Innovation Manager of Kingfisher plc.

“The judges were all in agreement that Jack’s Splinter motorcycle helmet is a very worthwhile product that we hope will go on to save hundreds, if not thousands, of lives,” said James Walker. “We congratulate all five competitors who presented their ideas to us. What they have shown us is that Britain is still good at what Britain’s good at – inventing things – and we encourage them and their colleagues to keep doing that for years to come.”

Jack, 23, developed his unique patent-pending ‘Splinter’ motorcycle helmet as a project when completing his BSc (Hons) in Computer Aided Product Design this year and will soon start working for a company in Essex involved in consultancy with the automotive industry.
 The novel concept provides quick and safe helmet removal following an accident by removing side clips which unlock the interior and allowing it to slide apart. This feature, says Jack, makes removing the helmet much simpler and could save vital seconds without compromising the safety features of the helmet itself.

“I used to ride motorbikes when I was younger and had a couple of accidents so I knew there was an issue there,” said Jack who is originally from Brighton. “I then did some work with the St John’s Ambulance who helped to develop the brief further.”

Jack is now working with the University’s Commercialisation Unit to develop the helmet. He has done computer simulation testing on the design but now needs to produce a prototype of the helmet to perform hard product testing in order to attract the attention of a leading manufacturer.

“The University has a good background in developing products,” Jack enthused. “You get their support not only financially but as a team so if there are issues like competitors breaching patents or license agreements, the University is behind you 100%. That is particularly important when you are trying to develop an idea on your own.”

As a member of Santander Universities, BU has benefitted from the company’s generosity in sponsoring a number of scholarships to support student and staff travel and research. Santander is also supporting student entrepreneurs setting up their own businesses through the Grand Slam competition.

John Hedges from Santander Universities said: “All the competitors were very well prepared. The energy and hard work they have put into their projects is commendable. In the end the prize went to the “Splinter” motorcycle helmet for bringing an innovative approach to the competition together with a solution for saving the lives of many motorcyclists. We wish the winner all the best with the commercialisation of this idea.”

“The Santander Universities Design Grand Slam is aimed at helping BU graduates to take their products to the next stage of being made ‘market ready’ where funding is required to make that happen,” said Philip Robinson, a Product Design alumnus of BU and successful entrepreneur in his own right who is now working with Bournemouth students and graduates to turn their projects into commercial products.

“Our relationship with Santander Universities through activities like this is so valuable because it gives graduates the ability to move new product ideas off the drawing board or away from the first working prototype and into a much better position to start a new business or look for a licensing partner to help their products through to market,” Robinson concluded.

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