Published Apr 20, 2020
Building, designing and problem-solving is all in a day’s work for Tim Brox, Wellington UniVentures’ Product Design Manager. Tim is responsible for the product design function at Wellington UniVentures, a fascinating role that makes him responsible for both the high-level and detailed-level design of products. The role can include the day-to-day processes around quality assurance, assembly and design, analysis and documentation, connecting suppliers and providing mentorship and advice for academics at Victoria University of Wellington.
In-house Product Design capability has been developed by Wellington UniVentures in response to the need for design expertise both for projects they advise on and for their own internal projects. Tim works across Wellington UniVentures projects that have a need for product design, to support all aspects of bringing a product to life. He has worked to develop a network of design, development and manufacturing partners and is a strong advocate for supporting local businesses. By building this capability in-house, Wellington UniVentures can grow design thinking skills within our business and by mentoring our inventors, who can apply it to their projects.
Mentorship in design thinking focuses inventors not just on the novelty of their invention, but also on the specific problems that their idea solves for customers, producing a customer-focused design solution. The skills learned through this mentoring process prepare start-up founders to run their own product design function and include prototyping, the production process and how to scale. Tim explains, “Wellington UniVentures can look at how a product can be designed on the one-off, to show it can be done, then we can investigate how production can be scaled and automated for batch production, depending on the product. These are skills that can be shared with our entrepreneurial inventors as they create new businesses from their ideas”.
Recently Tim has led the development of a new in-house product, which has evolved out of the commercialisation of Victoria University of Wellington intellectual property. This project has called on Tim’s range of skills including the mechanical design of the product enclosure, the electronics (which were designed in-house, printed in NZ and manually assembled by Tim), and the software. Tim has prototyped the software interface and is working with a local development company to prepare the software for release. Tim has enjoyed pulling on a variety of skills for this project and says, “It’s been an exciting project to be involved in, as we have contracts already in place to sell this product into a niche market.”