Handy Fasteners Make A Difference

A life-changing award has opened up exciting opportunities for two of the faculty’s Aerospace graduates, thanks to an idea they developed on the ‘Make A Change’ module.

Matt Barrett and Tom Fantham, the team behind Handy Fasteners, have been awarded £50,000 by Arthritis Research UK to further develop their magnetic buttoned shirts for people with limited dexterity.

The award was announced following the team’s progression through the prestigious Design Council Spark programme, a unique innovation fund and support programme designed to fast-track products to market.

Handy Fasteners beat over 300 entrants to participate in the rigorous 20-week programme. They were then encouraged to pitch for the full £50k from Arthritis Research UK as their product makes a real difference to those with arthritis or other musculoskeletal conditions.

Matt has no regrets that his original path into engineering has taken such a different direction: “It’s been a weird but hugely exciting journey,” he says.  “The product development process has been really interesting and the look on people’s faces when they try out the shirts is amazing.”

It all started with the popular ‘Make a Change’ module which gives engineering students the opportunity to apply their theoretical engineering knowledge to solve real world problems.

Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon, who tasks the students with designing commercially feasible products and solutions to a real problem, is delighted with Handy Fasteners’ success: "Once again our students evidence that with engineering skills they can and do make a change to people's lives. I am incredibly proud to have taught these students and see their idea emerge and progress into a winning product."