Butters Innovation is now on Advice Finder. Advisers listed on "advicefinder.co.uk" have agreed to provide the first hour of their consultation free of charge to Liverpool City Region businesses. We can assist from the early stage of innovation through user trials to manufacture.

Advice Finder Logo

Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LCR LEP) is working with its local public and private sector partners, including Local Authorities, Chambers of Commerce and other Business Support organisations to develop a coherent business support environment that actively supports businesses in the City Region to find the business advice they need. Advicefinder.co.uk has been developed by this partnership of organisations to make it easier for local businesses to find commercial, professional advice to stimulate business growth and to better understand the range of publicly funded support available. It is supported in this work by European Regional Development Funding (ERDF).

It is widely acknowledged that businesses that receive professional, commercial advice achieve higher levels of growth than those that do not. Recent SME survey work by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has identified a number of barriers to the increased take up of such services. A key factor is the SME not knowing the most suitable professional adviser to use for the business and whether they will deliver benefit to the business for the costs charged. We hope advicefinder.co.uk will change this by providing an interactive advice match making service for SMES to enable them to search through a wide range of professional advisers, offering expertise by sector, function and markets and determine who is best suited to meet their requirements.

June 2015



Jonathan Butters assisted the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne through the Design Council’s Design Leadership Programme to develop a next generation low cost ultrasound device for the developing world. Jonathan worked with the technical team to create a value proposition and brief so that external design expertise could be recruited. A number of fully-working prototypes were produced for trials in West Africa.

Low Cost Ultrasound Image

June 2015



In partnership with PDS (CNC) Engineering Ltd and The Universities of Manchester and Salford Jonathan has been a key member of the team to raise investment from the National Institute of Health Research’s i4i programme. The funding is being used to develop the 3rd generation of the Morow robotic device that helps survivors of stroke relearn how to stand up and walk in their early stages of rehabilitation. Clinical trials are planned in 2016.

Morow Image

August 2014



Jonathan Butters is an approved supplier under the new Manufacturing Advisory Service programme.

MAS logo

MAS can provide up to 50% of the cost of Butters Innovation to help you improve your business, at two different levels:

* Up to £1,000 and 50% subsidy towards basic improvement projects.

* Step-Change – up to £3,000 and 50% subsidy towards more complex projects.

Further projects can be supported at a reduced percentage: 2nd project up to 40% and the 3rd project up to 30% of cost. Max grant figures apply to all projects. 3 projects can be funded on a rolling 12 month cycle.

The MAS programme aims to improve the competitiveness of manufacturing businesses and can focus on:

o Innovation - assisting in growing top line sales and employment through new product development, innovation and business strategy programmes
o Strategy - assisting clients to plan for growth by combining best practice with tailored regional plans designed to increase efficiencies, reduce costs and plan for a suitable future
o Operational Improvement - assisting to identify constraints, quantify impacts and design transition plans to realise targeted operational output
o Supply Chain - assisting to realise efficiencies through improved coordination with suppliers and customers
o Finance - assisting clients by providing consultancy tailored to their financial requirements including manufacturing market insights, bespoke research into key markets, one-to-one strategic support and financial consulting from manufacturing experienced staff
o Technology - assisting companies to obtain a competitive advantage through the exploitation and commercialisation of technology

For more information, eligibility and project scope please contact Jonathan Butters.

October 2012



Dmist have developed a real-time, fully automatic, natural colour video enhancement technology for adverse viewing conditions. It removes the unwanted light reflected by airborne particles and droplets, giving clear video images for airports, police, search and rescue and other critical monitoring situations.

Product Rendering

Originally briefed by Dmist in 2010 Butters Innovation produced some concept 3D CAD models of the entire assembly, including the internal parts, so that the product had the look and feel appropriate to a piece of high end industrial equipment. Also, some improvements were needed to make assembly and disassembly easier to do. The original product had been developed overseas and limited production files were available, so we had to start from scratch.

Product Rendering

Three visual 3D CAD concepts were submitted and Dmist chose which one they wanted to progress to a physical prototype. Rather than use rapid prototyping, we went straight to rapid manufacture and sourced new parts from our global supply chain. These were assembled, initially to the original product so that a convincing working unit could be demonstrated to potential new clients and at trade shows. Positive feedback was received from the market giving Dmist the confidence to move forwards to a complete re-design.

Production files were developed by Butters Innovation and an entirely new complete ClearVue HD unit was constructed to validate the fit and appearance of all the parts. Some small changes were made following a quality inspection by Butters Innovation and then a complete set of 2D and 3D production files and drawings were handed over allowing Dmist to launch a brand new product with enhanced HD video features into the market.

DMIST logo

John Oakley, Dmist CEO said: “We have a world class technology that commands a premium price in the industry. The ClearVue HD unit now looks right on the outside and reflects the high production values and sophisticated technology that lie inside the black box. Our suppliers have a thorough set of production drawings and can maintain quality on a repeat basis. This is essential for any innovative technology company in a growing high value market. We will certainly use Butters Innovation again and value their flexible rapid response to our needs.”

Jonathan Butters said: “We have had a long relationship with Dmist as well as other technology spin-outs from UK universities. Our experience in developing desirable marketable products with end users in mind and being able to understand the technology and science at the same time made this project very enjoyable.”

September 2012



Ian Stuart has just joined the team. Following two years studying for a BSc (Hons) in Sports Technology at John Moores University, Ian feels it important to have a year in industry so that he can understand the professional environment and challenges faced by Industrial Designers.

Ian Stuart

Ian said: “My studies have given me a great background in product design, computer aided design and how this relates to people in sports and, possibly, medical situations. However, university doesn’t give you the industrial context and when I finish my studies I will be in a highly competitive employment market. Having a year at Butters Innovation will give me a real advantage both in my studies and when I graduate in 2014.”

Jonathan Butters said: “I wasn’t considering taking on a student but when I saw Ian’s email and met him, there were some very obvious things he could contribute to our current project work. So far it has been an excellent experience both for him and for our clients.”

September 2012



UK universities produce world class science and technology innovations. Much of this research and innovation has commercial potential and efforts to exploit this resource for competitive advantage have improved. But there is still scope to help technological and scientific experts turn their inventions into products and commercial opportunities that investors will back and customers will buy.

Design Council, University of Glasgow and Solutions for Business logos
This is the aim of the Design Council's "Innovate for Universities" (IfU) programme, and in which Jonathan Butters, as a Design Council Design Associate, has been involved. Jonathan recently mentored Glasgow University’s Head of IP and Commercialisation, Mel Anderson, supporting him create five technology spin-outs.

“Jonathan arranged a number of workshops and collaborative sessions with academics and researchers during the IfU programme and was highly effective in facilitating and supporting the teams in developing their ideas and developing strong design project proposals that all went on to receive funding” commented Mel Anderson, Head of IP and Commercialisation.

This continues Jonathan’s ongoing relationship with leading UK universities, knowledge exchange, technology development and commercialisation

March 2012



James and James

With great sadness we say bye bye to James Bevington. He started with Butters Innovation nearly 4 years ago and has provided the backbone of industrial design and CAD during that period after graduating with first class honours from John Moores University. James is off to New Zealand for an extended period to muck about on the snow, ride whales and fall off his mountain bike (not jealous, honest!!). James has contributed massively to our success and even has his name on one of our patents! He learnt to play the guitar during this period and has recently become a regular bass player in our house Blues/Soul/Garage/Jazz band gigging several times of late.

Jonathan said: “I’ll miss his humour and friendship. Tuesdays at the Parr Street Jazz night won’t be the same. I wish him luck on his big adventure and expect to hear about the NZ Micro-brewery scene.”

However, surprise, surprise, there’s a new James on the Block! James Roberts (who, like Jonathan, is an RCA Industrial Design Engineering graduate) will be taking on the mantle of the Bevington legacy. James (previously code-named “Jim” to prevent confusion) has worked on a freelance basis for Butters Innovation during the past 4 years so is a familiar face to some clients. So the change won’t be disruptive and work with carry on as before, except James Roberts can’t play bass (yet!!).

March 2012



Jonathan Butters is now on the newly re-launched Manufacturing Advisory Service Directory, representing BIC Innovation in a broad offer from a team of highly experienced consultants. He hopes to support manufacturing-based small to medium sized enterprises in embedding an innovation process into their way of doing business. He will also support new product development, knowledge exchange and technology transfer.

MAS and Solutions for Business logos

Jonathan said: “I have worked with MAS before and it was a very useful experience helping companies move into new markets through the use of the design process and just thinking differently. UK manufacturing is alive and well – don’t believe what you hear – it’s keen, lean and clever. I’m yet to meet a forward thinking advanced manufacturing SME that isn’t busy and planning for the future”.

To find out what is available from MAS go to their web site or contact Jonathan Butters directly.

February 2012



Tameside Council, working with Salford University, recently piloted a new idea to help design graduates gain industry experience prior to applying for their first jobs in a highly competitive employment market. The Graduate Design Office was staffed by six recent Product Design graduates, some of whom were also studying for their masters degree at the same time.
Tameside Business Family and Salford Unversity logos
The group traded as 6Design and worked on live design projects for local SMEs forwarded by Tameside Council. Senior design consultants from leading NW businesses worked with the graduates on a regular basis to ensure that they followed best industry practice and helped with their personal and professional development.

Jonathan said: “They were a talented bunch. It’s such a shame they often struggle to even get an interview with a design company after graduating. The project was a pilot and the jury is out as to how effective it has been. However, I really welcomed the opportunity to mentor the graduates. Sensibly, the university paid the consultants a reasonable fee so there was a high level of experience available to the graduates.”

February 2012



Our collaborative research project with Salford University, Medilink NW and PDS Engineering has now raised significant finance to develop a commercial system to a specification developed from a partnership with patients, carers and clinicians. The spin-out company Morow Ltd has attracted equity investment from the Northwest Fund for Biomedical, won awards and citations.

MoRoW prototype North West Biomedical Fund logo

Jonathan Butters, director of Morow, said: "We are delighted to be successful recipients of the Pathfinder investment from the North West Fund for Biomedical. This will enable us to accelerate the commercialisation of Morow's technology and bring real benefits to stroke survivors, their carers and clinical support professionals.

"The statistic of stroke patients occupying 20-25% of UK hospital beds at any one time means there is great pressure to mobilise patients as soon as possible to reduce the length of stay and health costs. Our product enables early mobilisation and is of great interest to clinicians and managers."

Dr Penny Attridge, Senior Investment Director at SPARK Impact and manager of The North West Fund for Biomedical, said: "Morow is a fantastic example of a forward-thinking company with an innovative product that will revolutionalise care for stroke patients. The possibilities for this product potentially extend further than the field of care for stroke patients and address the wider challenges in mobility rehabilitation, making Morow a very exciting company to work with."

December 2011


Our motorised rehabilitation device is recognised in a prestigious life sciences awards event

MoRoW receives praise as it is short listed in the Biomedical Project of the Year category at the recent Bionow Awards 2011.The award was presented by the sponsor Semple Fraser whose representative went on to say:

“…once progressed to prototype and validation [MoRoW] will be highly regarded in future competitions; their progress and degree of innovation to date was commended.”

BioNow logo
Geoff Davison, CEO of Bionow Ltd said “Bionow is delighted to have hosted the 10th annual awards dinner in our first year as a standalone business. I would like to give particular thanks to the award sponsors, our corporate sponsors and dinner guests and congratulate all of the winners.”

This is the first award we have entered the device into…...........watch this space!!

November 2011



Butters Innovation has worked closely with Jarrow based company Miko Engineering to launch a new range of outdoor seating designed with the ageing population in mind at Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing and Health.

The outdoor seating project, funded by Design Network North, is the result of collaboration between designers and a user group of older people from ‘Voice North’ based at the Institute for Ageing and Health.

Seating launch event at the Institute for Ageing and Vitality

Seating launch event at the Institute for Ageing and Vitality

The newly designed seats help the elderly overcome problems faced when seating is too low, uncomfortable or difficult to use when walking with sticks or other aids. Mike Morgan, Business Development Manager for the Institute for Ageing and Health said: "The North East is one of the most rapidly ageing regions in the country and this project is a great example of how a North East company can benefit from designing with older people in mind. The Voice North team is a group of people across a range of ages that can be called upon to ensure that design of products is more inclusive."

The designs developed are the result of a number of consultations between the Voice North team and design agency Butters Innovation to explore the needs of the ageing population.

Photo from one of the consultation workshops Photo from one of the consultation workshops

One of the consultation workshops run by Butters Innovation with the Voice North team

Jonathan Butters of Butters Innovation added: "Designing for your customer is imperative in providing products that are fit for purpose and visually appealing. In the case of street furniture there are a number of customers for the product that need to be considered; from the end users, to architects and installers."

He added "Miko Engineering now has a design which will satisfy the needs of the ageing population and set them apart from other manufacturers. With the help of Design Network North we have been able to create a product which we believe is truly inclusive for all ages. Our design team, particularly James Bevington and James Roberts, translated the user’s insight into a sensitive, commercially relevant solution."

Oct 2010 - Exemplar funding granted and designer selected
Nov 2010 - Customer consultation began
Dec 2010 - Concept development
Jan 2011 - Detailed design development
Feb 2011 - Prototype development
Mar 2011 - Installation and customer feedback

April 2011



Butters Innovation has just secured second year funding to develop a new product that will assist the rehabilitation of patients affected by stroke known as the MoRoW II (Motorised Rehabilitation Walker). Loosely described as a motorised walking frame with a sophisticated computer interface and user focused design, the project is part financed by a £150k government grant from i4i fund. The device will be capable of delivering a range of therapies leading to earlier mobility

Jonathan Butters, director of Butters Innovation, said “the consortium behind the project includes NW based PDS Engineering, Salford University and Medilink NW. PDS have been involved in Richard Branson’s balloon projects, restoring Donald Campbell’s Bluebird and have supported Richard Noble’s Thrust land speed projects. The team from Salford University have a first rate track record in developing patient care systems and the project has full access to the commercial connectivity of Medilink NW.” This type of consortium is typical of British Innovation when unusual partners get together to make a difference. Production will start in the NW next year following clinical trials that are scheduled for October 2010

August 2010



Jonathan Butters was invited to present at the recent Technology Strategy Board's "Collaboration Nation" event following the successful delivery of a TSB funded project with their client Farfield Group. The elevator pitch highlighted the benefit of developing technology with the early stage assistance of industrial designers who “understand people as well as technology”.

Jonathan Butters speaking at the TSB's Collaboration Nation event

Jonathan and his team have helped Farfield develop their scientific instrument and scale up the market potential from 20 units per year (£2m) with a potential ten fold increase to 200 per year. This has been achieved by re-designing the device from an end-user and production perspective. By creating a simpler sample loading arrangement Butters Innovation have created a consumable approach which will improve ergonomics, reduce sample time, reduce errors and remove the risk of contamination.

A UK supply chain has been developed for the new precision parts by manufacturer Optimold as well as a low cost off-shore solution for the instrument’s micro-fluid seals. Jonathan Butters said “Farfield needed to take the product on from the early adopter research lab stage and make efficiency and reliability improvements so that it was suited to industrial labs. The TSB funding enabled Farfield to out-source their design services to us so that we could develop a rapid prototype fit for scaling up for higher volume, precision manufacture. We have taken this approach with a number of clients where they had produced a world class breakthrough instrument that needed to be developed for the second phase of market penetration.”

March 2010



Design Council logo

Jonathan Butters has been accepted as a strategic Design Associate for the Design Council’s Designing Demand Innovate programme. “Designing Demand is a business support programme from the Design Council. It helps businesses (and University Technology Exchange Officers) to discover how to become more innovative, more competitive and more profitable.” From www.designingdemand.org.uk.

Jonathan’s 11 years of experience as an industrial design consultant, 10 years experience as an academic and 10 years experience as a professional engineer was seen as a strength, particularly in relation to working with Universities. “I have been working with Universities and their spin-outs for many years so engaging as a formal member of the Designing Demand team is a natural progression to help unlock the commercial potential of the UK’s HEI sector” said Jonathan. “It will also be great to join the other BDI members who are already part of the Designing Demand delivery team.”

March 2010



Nesta logo

Butters Innovation has become an approved supplier under the NESTA Creative Credits scheme, a world-first programme that helps businesses to develop their ideas by teaming up with creative firms.

Greater Manchester-based SMEs from all sectors can apply for 'Creative Credits' worth £4,000 which can be used to purchase services from Butters Innovation.
Click here to see our gallery entry.

You need to spend at least £1,000 and the Creative Credits programme will top it up with £4,000.

Full details available at www.creative-credits.org.uk

February 2010



We have worked with Da-Ta Industries for a number of years and helped develop a novel personal hygiene system, the PS3. The wall-mounted warm water spray handle is cleansed with Ultra Violet light between uses. A dispenser provides flushable, non-woven textile Sani Mitz mittens with an anti-microbial content. They are used for cleaning the toilet seat and cleansing/drying the user's body in conjunction with the water spray. The system can be used as part of an infection control strategy as well as for general personal hygiene.

PS3 Model

The NHS National Technology Adoption Centre (based in Manchester) has just accepted the system for a full technology review. The Sani-Mitz system started as a personal hygiene product to enable Muslims to wash prior to prayer. However, after demonstrating the system to Medilink NW and TrusTECH (the NW NHS Innovation Hub), infection control applications were identified.

“Jonathan and his team designed and built a fantastic working prototype, commissioned primary research and helped greatly with the applications for grant funding, Innovation Vouchers and Creative Credits,” said the product’s inventor, Zahida Abbas. “We are delighted that the NHS has such faith in the concept and we are also exploring the Arab healthcare and hygiene markets.”

“This project is a good example of how strategic consultancy and industrial design can help to position a new-start client with a disruptive innovation, and help them raise finance and connect with key market players,” said Jonathan Butters, founder director of Butters Innovation.

January 2010



ACAL Energy had just 8 weeks in which to produce a convincing visual prototype for the launch of their Hydrogen fuel cell at a high profile event. Butters Innovation designed and prototyped the full product, producing a unit which not only communicated the compact size and portability of their system, but which looked like the finished product and was robust enough to be taken to trade shows and seminars.

Acal Fuel Cell Display Model

“We had a very tight deadline and needed a physical model to demonstrate our unique PEM fuel cell technology at a prestigious international symposium. In 8 weeks and on budget, Butters Innovation designed and delivered a complete and convincing product.”
Bob Longman, VP Engineering, Acal Energy

We rapidly designed a complete product using SolidWorks and incorporated the client's components. The model was made using CNC machined plastics and Selective Laser Sintered (SLS) Nylon. It weighed around 30kg, had stainless steel pipework and a working mini PC with touch screen. Internally were two lead acid batteries so that it could run without mains connection for several days. Although the fuel cell was not a functioning unit, real parts were used to get a convincing result.

November 2010



Butters Innovation and Lucid Group will be among the experts speaking to a high-profile audience of incubators, SMEs and technologists at "Creating a bestseller – How to take an idea to market", a free business design and innovation event to be held at Liverpool Science Park on Wednesday 7th October, from 4.00pm to 6.30pm.

The event will walk delegates through the process of taking an idea from initial concept, design and development and turning it into a hit in the marketplace. The event will look at a variety of case studies, including examples from the biomedical, consumer health and medical devices sectors.

Strategic designers Butters Innovation and Lucid Group will both present a number of medical product innovations they have produced to the audience, while BDI Northwest’s regional Chair Alistair Williamson will also brief delegates about British Design Innovation and its importance to companies wishing to exploit their intellectual property and commercialise their ideas, no matter how small or large or in which industrial sector.

STOP PRESS: The Design Council’s Design for Patient Dignity national design challenge will be launched at the event. This is an opportunity for NW Designers to partner with manufacturers and technologists in order to improve current practices in the NHS.

Other speakers include representatives from co-sponsors Medilink North West (who will provide information on finance and regional networks within the healthcare sector) and TrusTECH, who will offer tips on how to form links with the NHS to ensure the next big idea also makes a big impact in the marketplace.

To download the event flyer, click here.

October 2009



Butters Innovation has joined with PDS Engineering, University of Salford and Medilink NW to form a consortium to develop a new product that will assist the rehabilitation of patients affected by stroke. Loosely described as a motorised walking frame with a sophisticated computer interface and user focused design, the two year project will be part financed by a government grant from National Institute of Health Research’s Health Technology Devices programme.

Jonathan Butters, director of Butters Innovation, said “I am very excited about working with PDS Engineering. They have been involved in Richard Branson’s balloon projects, restoring Donald Campbell’s Bluebird and have supported Richard Noble’s Thrust projects. The team from Salford University have a first rate track record in developing patient care systems and the whole project will be managed by Medilink NW. This type of consortium is typical of British Innovation where unusual partners get together to make a difference.”

The project will start in the Spring 2009 and the product is planned to be launched in 2011.

February 2009



The lives of two young fishermen have been saved thanks to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution's man-over-board and vessel locater alert system, the MOB Guardian. The safety system has now saved the lives of five fishermen who work in an industry that is considered to be the most dangerous in the world.

The two fishermen were winched to safety from a life raft after their 10m fishing vessel, Leven Mor of Looe, sank off Cornwall. They were located after their MOB Guardian unit sent a ‘vessel overdue' alert to the RNLI Operations room. The information was passed to Falmouth Coastguard who then tasked the RNLI Penlee lifeboat and a helicopter from RNAS Culdrose.The rescue helicopter spotted smoke and soon after, located a life raft containing the two crew approximately 4 miles from their last reported position. The men were winched on board and taken to Treliske Hospital in Truro suffering from mild hypothermia. The RNLI Penlee lifeboat subsequently recovered the life raft and other debris.

The Leven Mor of Looe fishing vessel MOB Guardian Base Unit & Personal Safety Devices

The Leven Mor of Looe fishing vessel

MOB Guardian Base Unit & Personal Safety Devices

"The RNLI had a significant challenge to overcome to deliver a first class product to a sector of the maritime market that is particularly vulnerable and at risk. Engaging with a team involved in the rapid development of specialized electronics equipment was of particular significance in the RNLI's thinking.
This equipment also required specific ergonomic study to design an effective user interface - the creative approach of Jonathan's team in developing the product, which is now bearing fruit through saving lives."

Peter Bradley, Staff Officer Operations
Royal National Lifeboat Institution

October 2008



Jonathan Butters was one of a panel of speakers at the recent "China by Design" event organised by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and the China Britain Business Council, at the City of Manchester Stadium on 8th February 2008. Designed to encourage participants to explore opportunities in Greater china, the event showcased British firms operating in China, with a focus on knowledge-led innovation.

Jonathan's presentation "Designing in Protection for IPR", illustrated the issues, benefits and challenges through case studies and real life examples drawn from the past 5 years of experience of product development working with Chinese manufacturers.

Jonathan Butters presenting at China By Design event Jonathan Butters presenting at China By Design event

Jonathan Butters presenting at China By Design
City of Manchester Stadium, February 2008

March 2008


Contact details


Regular blogs and provocative articles or pertinent issues concerning the Industrial Design sector can be found at:
Jonathan's LinkedIn page

To be published in November 2015. An entry on the subject of “Failure” in the 1st edition of The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design. ISBN: 9781472521576 Imprint: Bloomsbury Academic
The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design

Low cost medical imaging for the Developing World:

University spin-out secures six figure investment - Through the Design Council’s Science Programme Jonathan assisted the team that has recently created the first spin-out from Newcastle University’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. The new company, Video Enhanced Observation Limited, has received an investment of £130,000:


Earlier published articles and comment include:

Design Week: Butters Innovation is in the hot seat with its Vitality range of assisted outdoor seating, 07.04.2011

Design Week: Don't discount Liverpool, it's on the UK design map, 29.06.2010

Design Week: Midlands consultancies hit back over university innovation claims, 15.04.2009

Design Week: The industry faces the university challenge, 02.04.2009

Design Week: BDI and Design Council share the same goals, 12.03.2009

Design Week: Strategic design is key to economic recovery, 26.02.2009

Design Week: It's less a virtuous circle and more a vicious cycle, 23.10.2008

Design Week: Universities shouldn't be undermining design groups, 11.09.2008

Design Week: Can ethical groups such as Wrap ask for free pitches, 12.12.2007

Design Week: Simple ideas are lost on clients due to buzz-wording, 12.05.2005

Design Week: Vox Pop, 26.08.2004