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Commercialisation of biomechanics project

Technology transfer offices usually have an unparalleled wealth of knowledge to impart on the world of industry. But, given they’re commonly an offshoot of academic institutions, the key challenge is often the commercialisation of these cutting-edge ventures. When it came to propelling the products and services of a highly technical biomechanics project within Sheffield Hallam University, the team therefore turned to The Engine Room…

The challenge

As part of the Centre for Sport Engineering Research at Sheffield Hallam University, there was no disputing the level of scientific excellence that lay within the niche biomechanics team that first approached The Engine Room late last year.

Using state-of-the-art depth camera technology, the discipline centred upon capturing incredibly detailed body measurements for use in sport and health. The comprehensive 3D scan offering was popular among elite athletes, for example, who were aware that the smallest detail could make a significant difference to their professional performance.

But vast potential existed for the concept in different markets, from perfectly tailored sports performance apparel to reconstructive breast surgery and the pre-empting of underlying medical conditions as a result of body fat mass and positioning.

As pioneers of this game-changing technology, the team knew they had a responsibility to push their capabilities further. However, with expertise at the science and research end of the spectrum, their difficulty lay in developing the proposition for the private business environment.

Winning Design Council support to help commercialise this technology transfer office was the initial catalyst for driving the project forward. And, chosen as the brand partner to drive the SHU initiative forwards, The Engine Room then helped turn the vision into a reality. 

The difference

No project can have a true strategic impact unless efforts are made to get to the heart of the organisation.

We therefore spent a great deal of time working with the group to fully understand, develop and, where necessary, reframe the brief, before getting to grips with the intricacies of the team’s technical capabilities and market potential.

These face-to-face sessions, whilst time-intensive, went on to provide the crucial foundation for the remainder of the project. It soon became clear, for example, that the venture needed to visually exist as a separate entity to SHU if it was to have long-term commercial value as a standalone service. This shaped the need to refresh everything, from the name to all wider manifestations of the brand identity.

With workshops scheduled to accommodate the diaries of everyone involved and the demands of wider University life, the team quickly started to enthuse about the whole process. A phased 12-month programme was mapped out thereafter.

During this time, The Engine Room worked closely with the academics and doctors responsible for the complexities of the scanning technology itself, as well as more commercial colleagues who would drive the venture forward as an outsourced 3D scanning department for business clients.

Two core brand concepts were developed, to epitomise the pioneering, rigorous and altruistic values of the team, and the tailored, independent and knowledgeable nature of what differentiated them in the marketplace.

But there was a clear front runner. The Centre for Excellence for 3D Body Measurement within Sheffield Hallam University became Three Space.

The results

We developed the new brand, its visual identity, digital footprint and even branded livery, providing the client with the building blocks to create ongoing assets themselves, attract partners and communicate exactly what Three Space can do.

“It is an extremely difficult task to try and coordinate the interests of different parties in any communications project. However, I think the challenge is magnified in the world of academia when teaching and research is naturally a priority.

However, The Engine Room enabled us to see the benefits of this commercialisation exercise, and we now have a real appetite to develop this business opportunity, armed with the tools they’ve given us.

“This project was successful because, ultimately, The Engine Room didn’t just deliver a powerful brand concept. They also guided us thoroughly and personably through the world of branding and design, and focused on adding strategic value to the skill-sets of our own team. They made it fun too – it was a pleasure working with Darren, Mark and the team.

Now, it’s a case of ‘watch this space’ to see how Three Space’s academics and business development manager take the project forward.”

Georgia Hatzigiannidou