HIE Innovation Grant For c-monsta
C-Monsta Case Study From Highlands and Islands Enterprise Innovation Grant
In his spare time, Mark Yeadon, founding Director of c-monsta, is an avid surfer. It was during his surfing trips that Mark became frustrated about the lack of way to allow his surf kit to dry, keep it all together and transport in a convenient manner. This led to the development of an early-stage prototype of a wetsuit dryer, a form of hanger, shaped so that boots and gloves could be hung in an inverted position, allowing them to dry; with a further row that could also hold a wetsuit.
It just so happened that the shape Mark had created looked very much like a sea-monster, and so c-monsta was born!
Throughout the development stage, Mark produced several working prototypes, so he knew the concept was viable and that it functioned effectively.
Mark was looking to work in collaboration with a university partner to develop the product further by enhancing the design, minimising the use of materials, and identifying the best possible materials that could be used in the manufacturing process. Design expertise was needed to make the product fully market ready.
After being referred by Business Gateway in Moray, Carol-Ann Adams from Interface successfully partnered Mark with Nick Bell from the Product Design Engineering Department at Glasgow School of Art (GSA).
The project focused on optimising the design by taking advantage of the product design skills, detailed materials knowledge, and extensive network of manufacturers that GSA has, to develop a design that would have great functionality and could be manufactured at a price point that would make the product commercially viable.
The collaboration was an immediate success, using GSA’s skills and the client’s network of surfers to develop a product that was viable for manufacture in Scotland. Glasgow School of Art has excellent facilities - including 3D Computer Aided Design software, 3D printing facilities and a full wood and metal workshop – all of which were utilised for this project.
This first stage project was funded by a Scottish Funding Council Standard Innovation Voucher.
The novel aspect of this product is the combination of features that allow the surfer or watersports enthusiast to air dry their wetsuit, boots and gloves effectively and without using electrical power. The geometry of the product allows the optimal positioning of the equipment - enabling water to drain out and to allow airflow to quickly dry the kit ready for the next session. By keeping the equipment dry, this design also extends its lifespan.
The added bonus is that the hanger keeps all the equipment organised and in one place – so the surfer should never forget a key item. There are no products on the market that have this combination of features and functionality.
The product has now been developed and sales have surpassed expectations, as more people have been taking up outdoor pursuits such as wild water swimming.
It is hoped that the manufacturing of the final product will be done in Scotland – building on links that both the client and GSA have with Scottish manufacturers and as part of GSA’s commitment to the reshoring of manufacturing jobs. The geometry and manufacturing processes employed will be selected so that recycled plastic material can be used where possible.
Working with Craig Robertson (Business Gateway), Carol-Ann Adams (Interface) and Nick Bell (GSA) has been a pleasure.”
“Throughout the project Nick has been enthusiastic, professional, proactive and knowledgeable. His communication has been clear and effective, and he is obviously passionate about product design.”
“This project has benefitted me in seeing how a product can be developed as well as bringing a product close to the point where it can go to market.” Mark Yeadon, Director, c-monsta
GSA expertise helped turn an idea formed in Moray into a profitable business, selling the product round the world at the height of an international pandemic.
The company and academic then successfully applied for a Scottish Funding Council Student Placement Voucher to build on the solid foundation of the c-monsta product design. Callum Leitch, a student from GSA, worked with the company to refine the existing product architecture and materials to make it suitable for the needs of the snow sports market.
Benefits - Company
This follow-on project provided the company with a great opportunity to engage with the knowledge and expertise of the student and academic supervisor – reinforcing the links formed during the initial Innovation Voucher funded project. By utilising the student’s Project Design Engineering skillset, the company is hoping to penetrate new markets and increase sales.
Benefits – Academic
This provided an excellent opportunity for the student to see first-hand the real-world commercial value and application of the skills they had developed during their degree studies and allow them to produce invaluable content for their portfolio.
The project also provided the basis of an excellent case study for the Product Design Engineering (PDE) department at GSA, showing the current students the real-world application of the PDE skills and processes; taking an initial idea right through the development process, through sketches, prototypes, design reviews and ultimately to a manufactured product.
Students do not often get the opportunity to see projects make it to market, so these types of client projects are invaluable at highlighting the value of the skills they are learning. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to show the value of the teaching/research/enterprise linkages, reinforcing the links between the PDE academic staff and Scottish entrepreneurs.