A new project from the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre at the School of Jewellery in Birmingham will bring free, practical hands-on assistance to manufacturers seeking new product development.
There is no doubt about it, jewellery and silverware manufacturers and designer makers operating in the West Midlands look set to profit from an ambitious project designed to assist them with the introduction of new commercial products. Some 150 companies can participate in the project, each receiving up to 30 hours of free, expert assistance from a team of professional jewellery designers and new technology experts, to help them with the design and development of new product lines.
The £3 million project, entitled ‘New Product Development for the Jewellery Sector (NPD)’ is funded by the European Regional Development Fund with the backing of Advantage West Midlands through the Regional Development Partnership and will run until December, 2004. It will be delivered by a fifteen-strong team from the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre headed by Gay Penfold.
The British Jewellers’ Association has thrown its weight behind NPD and will be sponsoring an ‘Industry Liaison Officer’, who will be based at its own offices and who will work closely with member firms to facilitate their involvement in the project. Within the team itself will be professional jewellery designers and staff able to assist with computer-aided design, laser welding, surface finishing and rapid prototyping.
Gay Penfold explains: “There is a strong outreach element to the project. Staff at the JIIC and BJA will visit companies to work closely with their staff. Furthermore, the thirty hours of free advice can cover whatever stage of the new product development process the individual company requires: from initial concept to exploring batch production, we can help.”
Whilst design will be the key element of the service offered by NPD it is by no means all it can offer. It will also develop a regional resource centre through which to facilitate networking and spread best practice and act as a referral centre, signposting participating firms to sources of revenue and helping them to take advantage of additional training opportunities.
Geoff Field of the British Jewellers’ Association told JIB: “The DTI Sector Analysis report highlighted the need for UK manufacturers to speed up their time to market for new products and this project will provide real opportunities for those taking part to explore the new design and production methods necessary to do this at no initial cost to themselves. It will undoubtedly have a significant impact and provide a valuable resource not simply for the West Midlands but in the longer term, for jewellery makers countrywide. I would urge all eligible companies to find out more”:
(This article was first published in Jewellery in Britain).
The Npd Service
Thinking of developing a new product? NPD can help you to:
Assess your design and production capabilities; decide on the right new product/s for your business; write the design brief; prepare detailed design costs; give you free professional product design services or work with your own designers to help them to implement their designs; produce a production brief and help you examine the most cost effective production method/s; provide access to and training for: CAD/CAM; Rapid Prototyping; Laser Welding/Marking; Help you protect your copyright; Point you towards other agencies that provide funding/assistance.
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