“There has been no end to the innovative and life changing products I have seen being entered and I am honoured to be able to share my thoughts”

GlassouseA number of top industry experts have been officially revealed as the panel of judges for a “Dragons Den” inspired event for aspiring designers, engineers and inventors.

The annual Blackwood Design Awards attract both gifted amateurs and seasoned professionals to showcase innovative designs which aim to change the lives of disabled people.

Now the nine shortlisted entries will be evaluated by the judges, who will select their favourites on the 20th January at Dundee Contemporary Arts centre. This year, the competition will be made up of two distinct categories – Best New Product and Best New Concept.

The panel includes Gordon Aikman (BEM), a Motor Neurone Disease campaigner, journalist and columnist for the Scottish Sunday Times and Anne Walker, a Board Member at Blackwood.

Other judges are Toby Mildon, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the BBC, Richard Neville, Editor of the Courier (Dundee Edition), Will Mitchell, Head of Design at 4C Design and Tom Thomas, Partner at Harper MacLeod.

Anne Walker, Blackwood Board Member and tenant, said: “I am over the moon to have been asked to judge at the Blackwood Design Awards. Since the competition first launched, there has been no end to the innovative and life changing products I have seen being entered and I am honoured to be able to share my thoughts on each entry this year.”

Ian Gerono, Chair of Blackwood, is delighted to welcome the judges and believes they are the perfect line up to identify and champion breakthroughs that improve life for those with disabilities.

He said: “We’re delighted to finally be able to reveal this year’s judges. We believe the panel will bring a lot of credit to the awards and ensure the right winners are chosen. The annual awards have always shown high levels of imagination and creativity and have developed into an important way for us to discover genuinely revolutionary and life changing products.

“Some of the designs we have previously seen are groundbreaking and have benefited the lives of many; we expect this year’s designs to be no different.”

Drink Universal Holder

The competition has built a reputation of enabling great success for winners, and entries now frequently come in from all over the globe, including Canada and Pakistan.

Colin Foskett, Head of Innovation at Blackwood said: “Our aim is to enable our customers to live their lives to the full and by investing in future technologies and new innovative designs we believe we are successfully able to do this.

“Many previous entrants have gone on to achieve great things so it is definitely a worthwhile opportunity for all budding designers out there.”

Last year, ingenious entries included a hands-free computer mouse and an in-flight wheelchair. However, a spoon that doesn’t spill was crowned the winner, bringing benefits for people with cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s and other conditions which cause shaking.

Blackwood has been a leading name for 40 years in the housing and care sector, operating all across Scotland and is renowned for its work in adapting properties to let people who are disabled, elderly or have sensory impairments, to live independently.

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