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'Co-Innovate': Brunel led innovation programme achieves mega funding boost – How to get involved?


The pioneering programme ‘Co-Innovate’, based in the Department of Design, has bagged itself a whopping £3M in funding and calls for more Brunel students and academics to get involved and make the most of the project’s industry links.  

The programme has secured a £3M grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Greater London Authority (GLA), enabling them to continue their work until 2023. Brunel University jointly funds the project and will match the funding amount. 

“At Brunel Design, we invest heavily in our students – It is important for them to experience working in the design industry and Co-Innovate gives students the confidence to go it alone own once they graduate,” said Dr Vanja Garaj, Head of Design at Brunel and Co-Innovate Project Leader. 

Brunel University London's Design department established Co-Innovate in 2012. What started off as a two-year programme has grown to a seven-year running success. Split into two strands, Brunel Co-Innovate Journeys and Bridging the Gap, the programme supports innovation in London based small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and gives students the opportunity to gain experience in collaborating with industry. 

“We are also building great partnerships between the university and Greater London SMEs, who value the expertise and consultations offered by our design experts,” said Dr Garaj. 

Students, Academics and SME’s work in partnership to research, create and market new designs to brief, allowing all parties to benefit from shared resources and knowledge. Co-Innovate has already worked closely with over 260 companies and looks to grow this network.  

The project has produced many innovative designs in the last year: 

Cosi Care’  


Toys to help children with Eczema resist the urge to scratch - By Lauren Bell, Brunel Alumna in Product Design BSc and Founder of Cosi Care Ldt. (Winner of Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Award)  

‘Ocean Plastic Sunglasses’  


Sunglasses made from recycled plastic from the ocean - By Cameron Rodgers, Student in Industrial Design and Technology BA in collaboration with UK start up, Atlas. 

‘Ordered Chaos: How to Tame the Clutter’ 


Space efficient furniture for 3-8 year olds which teaches organisation skills - By Rebekah Jeong, Student in Industrial Design and Technology BA in collaboration with AR 18 Ltd. 

How can Co-Innovate help SME’s? 

Co-Innovate connects businesses with students, academics and industry specialists and attracts fresh thinking and new ideas. 

Businesses will have access to: 

  • Innovate Skills Workshops 
  • Innovation Mentoring 
  • Collaborative Projects 

If you are a London based SME BUSINESS, get in touch. 

Students: Get Involved 

Students get an unrivalled opportunity to create their own designs for established businesses and gain great insight into the process of creating a successful product to brief. Participation will count towards your degree with the work acting as your final project. 

Masters students can still submit proposals to be involved in the 2019/20 projects. Proposals deadline is February  Find out more HERE! 

Undergraduate Student proposals take place in September. 

Academics: Get involved 

Co-Innovate gives Academics access to funding and enables you to provide industry based and applied research, creating socio-economic impact and commercial benefits. 

Dr Garaj said, “Brunel is good at attracting European funding for collaborative projects with SME’s – These are opportunities we must make the most of.” 

The programme also received a Highly Commended Award for the Incubator and Accelerator Coworking Space of the year at the West London Business Awards 2020. 

Visit Co-Innovate webpage for more information. 

To Find out more about Design at Brunel, visit the webpage. 

Reported by:

Simone McNichols-Thomas, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 265219