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  • Writer's pictureMike Wynn

Cotswold-based product design consultancy win Innovate UK Inclusive Innovation Award

Updated: Dec 8, 2023


Duku win innovation award


Product design consultancy, Duku strives to create innovative design solutions that exceed expectations; helping over 500 start-ups, entrepreneurs and large-scale companies including Whyte mountain bikes, Spirax Sarco and the NHS turn their business ideas into reality. Now, after winning £50,000 as part of the government-backed Innovate UK Inclusive Innovation Award, the company is creating their own ground-breaking inclusive design project.


"It is a great honour to receive this award. The funding received will make a significant difference, ensuring we can continue to use our state-of-the-art prototyping equipment to bring inclusive design innovations to life." Andrew Aylesbury, Director of Duku

WHY DID DUKU WIN THIS AWARD?


Established in 2013 by product designers Andrew and Alex, Duku has a strong history of inclusive design, working on several previous Innovate UK research and design projects targeting inclusivity for those with limited mobility. The learnings from these projects have been transferred into common practice for all of their work, influencing products from mobility scooters to inclusive library scanning, assistive language learning, home assistance products and award-winning medical products.


Duku EV was created to focus on the high-growth area of EV charging and has since established itself as one of the UK's leading EV consultancies, developing charging points for local authorities across the length and breadth of the UK. Taking a research-led approach, the company discovered that despite relying on personal transport for their mobility, currently, only 25% of disabled motorists would consider purchasing an EV, rising to 61% if charge points are made accessible (RiDC/Duku).


Following a period of public trials, Andrew commented:


“Our research highlighted the problems people were having; including the need to use two hands and reach past those collision barriers. Now, everything’s touchless, lightweight and the obstructions are gone. Ultimately, it’s a better charge point for everyone."

The UK's first accessible charger was developed by Duku EV using these findings after a rigorous period of testing with disabled drivers. Featuring a patented automated cable system, plug-mounted controls and a carefully designed user interface, the charger is ahead of the game as the first in the UK designed to meet the latest standards surrounding accessible charging (PAS 1899) set by The British Standards Institute

(BSI).


Following the release of its initial prototype, the radical charger has received an overwhelming reaction from accessibility champions including Helen Dolphin MBE and the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers due to its pioneering nature. The design has also received industry acclaim at the 2022 EV Expo in London leading to interest from local

authorities and businesses around the UK and abroad.


On visiting Duku's office and workshop, Helen Dolphin MBE; who holds a position as a member of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) and is a disabled driver herself stated:


"The lightness of the cable, in addition to the unit’s ability to extend quickly and easily via the motorised cable management system, makes the charger completely unique to anything else on the market, eradicating the need to pull a heavy cable or fuel hose which for many who have a disability can be the major barrier preventing them from owning a vehicle.”

Helen Dolphin MBE tests the charger
Helen Dolphin MBE tests the charger

The £50,000 received as part of the award from Innovate UK will help finalise the development of the 22kW public variant of the charger which is designed to be used by businesses, councils and local authorities across the UK. It is hoped its unique automated cable system and ability to accept tap-to-pay payments will help to address issues in electric vehicle charging accessibility allowing everybody the opportunity to make the transition to electric vehicles.


22kW public variant
22kW public variant

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