Blackwood Design Awards winners announced

The Blackwood Design Awards judges

Housing and care provider Blackwood has awarded its annual accolades to the brightest and best new inventions in its mission to ensure that those with disabilities can live life to the full.

A panel of esteemed judges has selected four winners from this year’s entries to the Blackwood Design Awards, which seek to celebrate innovative new gadgets, technologies and concepts to help disabled people live more independently.

Following a much-anticipated final day of judging, South Korean company Neofect scored a double victory in both ‘Best Aids and Equipment’ and ‘Best Accessible Technology’ categories for its RAPAEL Smart Glove and Smart Pegboard – both of which can be used in the rehabilitation and treatment following serious injury or stroke.

Entrants gave live pitches from around the world via Skype, with the award for ‘Best Collaborative Project by a university or institute of higher learning’ being taken by the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling for Iridis – an app which helps the user to improve living spaces for those with dementia.

The final category of ‘Best New Concept’ was won by Andrew Taylor, with his specially-designed guidance system for visually impaired athletes which works in a similar way to parking sensors using sound to guide runners round the track.

Past award winner Grant Douglas

Max Brown, chair of Blackwood Board, said: “We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our winners and thank all who entered their designs into this year’s Awards and gave up their time to pitch on the final day.

“No matter how extravagant or simplistic the entries are, they make a huge difference in helping those living with disabilities to live more independently, which is why we encourage any budding inventor to enter the competition.

“It is a fantastic celebration of new and innovative ideas or creations and in most cases, provides a platform for further development and potential production.”

This year’s judging team featured both new and familiar faces to the awards, including Ryan Macdonald, ambassador network manager for Euan’s Guide, Gavin Neate, founder of Neatebox and Professor Lorne Crerar, chairman of Harper Macleod LLP.

The impressive panel was completed by Fiona Thwaites, member at Blackwood, Toby Mildon, diversity and inclusion consultant and Richard Neville, editor of DC Thomson Media morning newspapers.

Past winner Grant Douglas, founder and CEO of S’up Products, was also in attendance and gave a guest address on how his entry – the S’up spoon, which helps people with shaky hands to eat – has seen widespread growth following his award success.

Max added: “We also must thank our judges who volunteer their time to the Awards, without them it simply would not be possible.

“It’s quite incredible that we can bring together people from all around the world for this event and work in partnership to transform the everyday challenges faced by those living with disabilities.

“We can’t wait to see what this year’s winners go on to achieve, and we look forward to next year’s Awards already.”

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