The 2023-2024 Design Ventura Competition: Fostering Creativity and Business Skills in Schools

The 14th edition of the Design Ventura competition is underway, supported by the Design Museum and Deutsche Bank. This competition targets secondary school students aged 13 to 16 across the UK, aiming to integrate real-world business skills with creative design.

Ferndown Upper School, Dorset

Purpose of Design Ventura

The competition is designed to fill the gaps in the current Design & Technology curriculum. Historical data reveals a sharp in the number of Design & Technology GCSE entries; where there were once over 430,000 participants, recent figures have dropped to just 78,000. This is concerning given the design industry’s significant contribution to the UK economy and its rapid growth.

Comberton Village College, Cambridge

Design Ventura responds to this issue by offering students a practical experience that goes beyond the classroom. This year, participants are asked to design a product for the Design Museum Shop around the theme ‘Colour and Community’, a brief set by textile designer Kangan Arora.

Upper Shirley High School, Southampton

Competition Structure and Benefits

Students participate in teams and begin by brainstorming and developing their product ideas. The top ten teams are selected to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts at Deutsche Bank’s headquarters in London. The winning team’s design is then professionally developed, manufactured, and sold at the Design Museum Shop, with sale proceeds donated to a charity chosen by the students.

Heathcote School, Chingford, London

This competition not only enhances the students’ understanding of design and its applications but also introduces them to the business aspects of the industry. It includes access to free online resources, workshops, webinars, and live events—all aimed at broadening their educational experience.

Significance of the Initiative

Design Ventura is an essential initiative for introducing students to the combination of design creativity and market viability. Christoph Woermann of Deutsche Bank emphasizes the importance of exposing students to these concepts early on to help them understand the potential career paths available in the design field.

The Piggott School, Berkshire

Through real-life design challenges and business exposure, Design Ventura equips students with valuable skills that can inspire future careers in design. As the competition progresses, it continues to be a key educational resource, helping shape skilled, business-savvy designers for the future.

Christ the King Voluntary Catholic Academy, Nottingham

Christ the King Voluntary Catholic Academy, Nottingham – “Road to Go”

This entry features a fuzzy felt play mat that doubles as a bag, designed to keep children entertained during trips with minimal environmental impact. Targeted at families, this product is praised for its creativity and practicality. Helen Parker, a DT teacher at the school, noted, “It’s got them working in teams, thinking about the design process and using various skills… thinking about different ways of working.”

Comberton Village College, Cambridge – “Creative Colour Box”

A mindfulness light box for children aged 3-9 that encourages interactive play with family and friends. Made from sustainable materials like plywood and acrylic, it serves as a vibrant educational tool. Jamie Tompkins, involved in teacher training, said, “Design Ventura is teaching them about the process of design in industry… it is a very real project that steered DT towards creativity and problem-solving in a real-world context.”

Dover Girls Grammar School, Kent

Dover Girls Grammar School, Kent – “OUTFITY”

This fashion-oriented book helps users organize their outfits, targeting 10-20-year-olds with an eco-friendly approach. The project made a notable return after receiving attention last year, with DT teacher Joanna Woolley commenting briefly on its practical application for GCSE preparation.

Ferndown Upper School, Dorset – “Bouncy Buddies”

A whimsical stress relief toy representing famous designers like Morag Myerscough and Yinka Ilora, designed to educate and engage children about design icons in a playful way. The project incorporates both physical and digital elements to enhance learning.

Haggerston Academy, Hackney, London

Haggerston School, Hackney, London – “Braille Calendar”

This inclusive design provides a braille calendar to assist sight-impaired individuals, reflecting a thoughtful approach to product design that prioritizes accessibility. The project emerged from a direct need to aid those struggling with non-tactile interfaces in modern appliances.

Heathcote School, Chingford, London – “The Study Buddy”

A six-piece, build-it-yourself revision organizer that draws architectural inspiration for its design. This product is intended to aid students in organizing their study materials effectively, featuring diverse colour options and an environmentally considerate design.

Manor CE Academy, York

Manor CE Academy, York – “SCRAP (Safety-Conscious-Reflect-And-Protect)”

A safety-oriented product featuring hi-viz strips for backpacks or bikes, designed to appeal to students with a focus on cool, practical design elements for everyday safety, particularly on school trips.

The Piggott School, Berkshire – “Colour Countdown – Find the Colour in Your Life!”

An engaging game that encourages players to identify colours in their environment, promoting mental health and interaction off-screen. This product uses environmentally friendly materials and is designed for easy and fun engagement across various settings.

St Joseph’s Catholic High School, Slough

St Joseph’s Catholic High School, Slough – “Emergency Cache”

A versatile pouch that doubles as a sustainable shopping bag, designed to store essentials like money and medicine. This product combines practicality with environmental consciousness, using recycled materials in its design.

Upper Shirley High School, Southampton – “Dish of the Day”

An educational game that explores different cultures through food-themed play, designed to bring families together and encourage cultural exploration in a fun, interactive way. The product uses eco-friendly materials and aims to engage young minds away from digital screens.


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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