Tony Smith

Telford, Shropshire, TF2 7JU

A problem-solver by nature, Tony Smith searched unsuccessfully for a product that would support a laptop so that it could be used comfortably from a living room chair. He couldn’t find one to suit his needs, so he designed his own and made a prototype in his garage. When, on a friend’s suggestion, he entered his invention in a competition for innovations, he was surprised to reach the final. Now his original concept, the Wizard computer stand, is set to reach the marketplace.

The brief

To commercialise his idea, Tony needed assistance with the development and modification of particular features of his product and an evaluation of the safety of the design. He approached the Advanced Engineering Cluster (AEC) for help. His product needed to be stable under load yet lightweight, offer a wide range of positions and be compact enough to store easily when not in use. He also needed advice on intellectual property rights and the development of a marketing strategy.

The outcome

The AEC team discussed Tony’s ideas with him and provided advice on possible modifications to his original design. Prototypes were developed and tested to improve the product’s performance. Then, using CAD modelling and simulation techniques, the team helped Tony to establish safe working load limits and optimum stability for his design. Tony was also advised on the most appropriate form of intellectual property protection for his concept.

Market research was carried out by the AEC team to provide Tony with an overview of the market, the potential for the Wizard computer stand and his options for the best route to market, based on his available resources.

Guided by the AEC team’s network, Tony was signposted to potential suppliers, distributors and further sources of support and the Wizard computer stand will soon be in full production.

Highlights

The Wizard laptop stand was awarded runner-up position in the Shropshire Chamber & Shropshire Star Business Awards 2007, Thomas Telford Award for Innovation.

Adaptations have been made to the product for use with a wheelchair and Tony is currently in discussions with a national distributor.

“As well as providing specialist engineering advice, the AEC team supplemented my own business and marketing skills, greatly improving my chances of realising commercial success. I’m really happy to see my product going ahead.”

Tony Smith