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Diabetes Dragons’ Den 01/02/2012

On 22nd November we ran a creative workshop based on the television programme Dragons’ Den but with a twist. The workshop aimed to translate previously developed blue-sky ideas into more grounded and practical ones. To do this, Dragons not only questioned the ideas that were presented, they also sat with their chosen “entrepreneurs” and helped them develop their ideas.

One group of young people developed an idea called “Safety-net”, where a wrist-implanted blood glucose meter sends messages to various televisions and other screens in the home to warn of health problems. Another young people’s group developed an idea called “Tear-free testing”, proposing that a person with type 1 diabetes could wear a contact lens with embedded advanced electronics that constantly measure the glucose levels in their tears and provide a discreet indicator to others by changing colour.

The UCHD designers proposed the “DiaBuddies” concept that brought together medical expertise from the NHS and personal expertise from others living with type 1 Diabetes. This idea combined several tools for getting support and information accessed through smart phone apps, text messages and Facebook. Finally a group of parents developed the “D-Net Chemists” concept, a service that connects people with Diabetes with a network of pharmacists to get medication and support if needed when they are away from home. To bring their presentations to life, groups used various objects that they had made such as cardboard computer screens or cartoon glasses.

Groups presented their ideas to four Dragons with good experience of where the ideas might be used: NHS Senior Manager Mark Cobb; Design and Technology Teacher Russell Fisher; Senior Diabetes Consultant Simon Heller; and Boots Superstore Manager James Stout.

Following the presentations and questions from the Dragons, each Dragon chose to “invest” in one group and spent time with them exploring the best features of their ideas, and identifying practical hurdles and possible improvements based on their experience.

In general the Dragons were very positive about the ideas and surprised about their innovativeness. The young people and parents were also encouraged by presenting their ideas to external experts and by hearing their helpful comments and suggestions.


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