A week with Design Network North

At Design Network North, one day can be completely different from the next, which definitely keeps things interesting! We thought we’d give you a taste of what a typical week in the office is like.


We had Rise and Design on Friday, so we’re all recovering from that. The theme was Design in Sport and showcased some brilliant products from golf swing analysers to fishing waders and the technologies that make them great.

We’re always trying to improve these events so we send out a survey to everyone who was there to find out what they thought. As an added incentive, one lucky respondent gets a chocolate gift pack from Bev and North Chocolates.

We also take a look at who was there, particularly at first time attendees, and make sure they get a welcome email from Polly to let them know more about the network.

Of course, as soon as one event is finished, we start planning the next! So, even though the next Rise and Design isn’t until September, we’re already putting the event flyer together.

We’ve also got a Rise and Design in Leeds coming up, so we are putting a lot of work into that.


We meet with one of our members, Urban River Creative in South Shields. Carl wants to explore how we can help him raise his profile, so we have a good chat about his current business and clients, and the areas he wants to focus on. We start to build a picture of the type of clients he likes to work with, and the areas he specialises in as an agency, and how we can help him identify and approach new customers. We come up with some great ideas for activities over the next few months.

We launched our new Boomerang platform yesterday so it’s good to see that it’s being used. The email based system we’ve had for the last seven years has worked well, and has helped companies get answers to all sorts of questions; from finding a jewellery designer, to recommendations for an e-commerce system. This new online platform, which was developed for us by Consult and Design in Sunderland, will provide better visibility of current and previously answered questions, making Boomerang an even more useful resource. We’ll also be offering it to other business networks and clusters who want to help their members collaborate more effectively.


A meeting with M-Connected in Tynemouth. They’re a fascinating business that specialise in Internet of Things, or simply connecting devices and data together. Several projects they are running with global logistics companies require some unique technology to be developed, so we discuss how our Design for Growth programme can contribute to the project costs.

Next, we have a chat with David Reay about our workshop next week on the Clothing and Textiles Sector. The June Rise and Design attracted many new businesses so we feel there’s a need to establish a clothing and textiles network. The network will aim to support them, help them share knowledge and collaborate and start to build the sector again. We’re holding a workshop next week to bring some of these companies together and help us define what the network should be, so we’re all pretty excited about it.


We attend the CAKE event at Newcastle University. This isn’t about eating cake (well actually, there was cake there) but stands for ‘Collaboration And Knowledge Exchange’ and is part of the Creative Fuse project which brings businesses and the five regional universities together to focus on the creative sector. It’s a really good event on the topic of virtual reality, and showcases some great North East companies.

We also launched our new website, with the site going live just in time to enjoy the beer tonight at the Summer Social! Polly has been working to improve our website and develop what we hope is a useful and informative resource for the network.

The main event of the day is, of course, the NDC / DNN Summer Social – Design in the Microbrewery Sector! 130 DNN members and NDC tenants are coming along to sample the wares of seven microbreweries from across the region, and to hear from them about their brands, their products and the importance of design. With a hog roast and live music from local singer/songwriter Paul Liddell it promises to be a great evening.


Well, the Summer Social lived up to expectations. Everyone had a great night, there was plenty of networking and the breweries have gained a lot of new customers!  We were still there at midnight clearing up, but it was worth it. So much so that we’re already planning the next one!

We also got to take a sneak peek at the up and coming Design Portal which is currently under construction by Local Design agency Paul&Sam. The portal will be launching in the next few weeks and will provide a great platform to showcase the breadth of talent across the region. The portal will aim to bring more design work into the region and will help users to not only promote their organisation but also to find opportunities for collaboration and to ultimately win business.

And finally, to round the week off, another meeting with a company about a fantastic design project.

We've definitely been busy! Let's see what next week has in store...


Design Network North is part of RTC’s new programme called ‘Designing Better Business’ – launched in 2016 - which will provide support for north east businesses looking to continue to innovate and design better world leading products.
RTC was founded in 1989 with the sole purpose of helping businesses innovate and create new higher value products. Today, the business operates out of offices in Sunderland, Gateshead, Leeds and Daresbury and specialises in helping companies develop new products, embed new skills through training and access funding for innovation.
Designing Better Business’ is part funded by European Regional Development Fund, as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.