Students add value to neo-natal incubator

  • Neo natal presentation
    Bachelor of Creative Enterprise students Sila Waki and Hilary De Puy

A showcase of elegant innovation projects captured the attention of world-renowned inventor, Sir Ray Avery, at Unitec this week.

Students from Unitec’s Bachelor of Creative Enterprise applied their design thinking over 12 weeks around the next iteration of Medicine Mondiale’s first generation LifePod neonatal incubator. Five functional prototypes including a control panel display, carrier pod, hinge testing, shade design and instruction manual design were developed by the group of undergraduate and study-abroad students as part of a larger commercialisation programme developing real products for real customers.

The project brief called for students to bring their technical or creative flair to create a new or improved aspect of the life-saving neo-natal equipment — to make the LifePod, more resilient, affordable and user-friendly and advance Sir Ray Avery’s wish “to make the LifePod as ubiquitous as the i-Phone”. 

During the presentations Sir Ray Avery provided positive and constructive feedback. He praised the students’ “infallible and sexy design”, saying it was “where we wanted to be”. He pointed to the challenges of designing a truly global product, recounting his own experiences of “fool-proof design instruction” which had not always gone to plan.

Many students began their projects with “explosive ideas” which were pared back to the simplest form. They called the process “eye-opening” and commented how it provided focus, tested their preconceived ideas and made them acutely aware that no detail was too small to be overlooked.

Dr Cris de Groot, Academic Leader from Business and Innovation Creative Industries at Unitec says continual conversations between Sir Ray and the students was critical to the students’ design successes as they navigated between wish-fulfilment and extreme pragmatism, then back together during the process. Creative Industries lecturer Paula Buckley who co-delivered the design paper says “Sir Ray Avery is widely regarded as the father of New Zealand’s innovation and it was a privilege working with him and seeing his knowledge and wisdom handed down to our young innovators.”

Dr Vanessa Byrnes Head of Creative Industries, praised Sir Ray Avery saying he was the perfect person to partner with. “Sir Ray embodies the passion, skill and inquiry which we are developing with our students. His work and support signals to the New Zealand business community the value of practical applied design thinkers and the role they can play in changing the world.”

Finally, Sir Ray discussed the important advantages of working with students. “The great quality of youth is that you don’t know things can’t be made and you do not have to be restrained by history. I am confident that if we nurture and harness the imagination of these bright young minds at Unitec we can establish an innovation highway and make New Zealand the ultimate innovation destination.”


Find out more about studying Creative Industries at Unitec:

Creative Industries Bachelor of Creative Enterprise Order Study Guide