A peak behind the curtain of UK innovation

Date: November 8, 2022

We’ve got a front row seat when it comes to innovation and we’ve seen it all — from the  peculiar to the daring and downright sci-fi.

The variety of projects we see that qualify for R&D tax relief never cease to amaze us.

So rather than keep the stories behind these innovations all to ourselves, we’re going to let you peer behind the curtain now as we show you what some of our incredible clients have been up to in recent years.

1) Tea on a stick

It’s estimated that Brits drink a staggering 100 million cups of tea a day1. Teabags are one of the most common ways of brewing a cuppa but, when you consider that many of them are made with non-recyclable plastic, you quickly realise there is an environmental problem associated with this national pastime.

Enter our client, who wanted to develop a natural and environmentally friendly tea product that dissolves at lower water temperatures without ruining the all-important taste.

Through laborious research and testing, they came up with an extraction and filtration system which created a high-quality liquid tea concentrate in its purest form.

But liquid isn’t easy to transport in an environmentally friendly way, so it needed to be returned to a solid prior to shipping. By developing a stabiliser to transform it into a solid, they invented a ‘tea pop’ — a small, bagless tea concentrate that can be dissolved in 85˚C water without leaving a residue or creating waste.

They then integrated a recyclable stick to the end of the product which can be used for stirring — negating the need for plastic cutlery when on the move. The ingenious tea on a stick was born.

2) A new life for McDonald’s toys

With plastic pollution piling up around the world, companies are striving to find new ways of recycling plastic products — and you might be surprised to learn the ways in which McDonald’s toys can be repurposed.

Our client is a leading designer and manufacturer of outdoor wooden play equipment for schools and nurseries.

They wanted to incorporate brackets and safety connections using recycled plastic lumber made of old McDonald’s toys.

This was always going to be a challenge, as this kind of plastic lumber is renowned for having little integral strength, and certainly not the rigidity required for play equipment.

But, undeterred, our client carried out a lot of research and testing and developed a way to improve the plastic’s structure so it can be incorporated into the equipment.

3) Duels with a piston pump

In an increasingly crowded market, creating new, innovative games is becoming more and more difficult.

Our client came up with the idea for a new interactive game in which the winner can bring a bit of live action to proceedings — with the loser sprayed in the face with water.

Each competitor charges a piston before the forfeit is meted out but an advance in multidirectional liquid pump technology was required to bring the concept to life.

The result of their design and manufacturing process is not just a brand new game — but a new dual-sided piston pump. Let the games begin!

4) From digital images to 3D prosthetic eyes

Prosthetic eyes have existed for more than 75 years in their current form.

Existing techniques meant patients had a substance injected into the eye socket to create a mould, from which sizing and dimensions were calculated.

Working alongside scientists and engineers, our client set out to revolutionise the process, making it far less intrusive.

This started with the adaptation of advanced photographic machinery to create a camera that could scan the dimensions of the patient’s eye socket. There’s no longer any need to make a mould, and it provides much greater accuracy in the size, shape and colour of the new eye.

Once the image has been captured, a customised cloud-based software translates it into intelligent analytics. The working theory is that, from this stage, the prosthetic eye can be created using an advanced 3D printer.

This would reduce the overall time to produce an eye from weeks to hours — completely transforming the entire process.

5) Sexual healing

Maintaining a market leading position is important in every industry, but it can be challenging in a very competitive marketplace – and this is true of the sexual health industry.

To stay ahead, our client has to constantly improve its range of products, with advances including new natural and medicated formulations of sanitisers, lubricants, supplements, and condoms.

In the case of male delay products, which are designed to delay a man’s orgasm, they often contain a desensitising element called benzocaine — but it can lead to complaints that it causes a complete lack of sensation.

Our client researched male delay sprays and developed new products that can both stimulate and prolong sexual activity between partners, without desensitising.

In a world that places growing importance on the use of natural ingredients, the company is also developing new products that make more use of such components, while still improving sexual health between partners.


1UK Tea and Infusions Association

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