UWTSD-based Cerebra Innovation Centre wins prestigious St David Award


The Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC) - a partnership between the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) and the Carmarthen-based children’s charity, Cerebra – recently won a prestigious award for Innovation, Science and Technology Award at the annual St David Awards ceremony organised by Welsh Government.

Gwobr Dewi Sant / St David Award

The Cerebra Innovation Centre is home to a team of product designers based within UWTSD’s Swansea College of Art. The team designs and builds innovative, bespoke products to help disabled children to discover the world around them. The products are both desirable and exciting as well as being functional, promoting social inclusion and peer acceptance for the children they help.

The St David Awards are the national awards of Wales and are nominated for by the public.  Now in their sixth year, the Awards offer the opportunity to celebrate the nation’s most inspiring and talented people, and to give them the national recognition they deserve.  The finalists and winners are decided upon by the First Minister of the Welsh Government and his advisers.  The winners of the nine St David Awards categories were announced at a special ceremony that took place in the Senedd in Cardiff on March 21st.

“The CIC team are so proud to have won the St David Award!” said Dr Ross Head, Product Design Manager, CIC.  “Our jobs give us so much satisfaction; to be able to help children access activities that most people take for granted is a great privilege but to be recognised nationally for our work is simply amazing. A huge thank you to all of the Cerebra staff and our supporters, without whom we would not be able to fund this work. We believe that, with a little bit of help, anything is possible - I hope that winning this award will pave the way to helping many more children across the UK.”

Tracy Elliot, Head of Research and Information at Cerebra added:  “We are delighted to have won the St David Award 2019 for Innovation, Science and Technology.  We believe passionately that the young people we support should be able to take part and participate fully in society.  We develop innovative and, above all, fun solutions to the problems and barriers parents raise with us.  Our designs aim to reduce some of the social stigma attached to disabilities by making not only functional but beautiful products that enable our young people to participate in activities that are too often closed to them.  We aim to demonstrate what can be achieved with the right attitude and support and hope that by winning this award some of our passion and belief will influence others.”

Ross and the team develop logical, innovative and fun solutions for children with brain conditions.  Their designs aim to reduce some of the social stigma attached to disabilities by making not only functional but also beautiful products for amazing young people. Some of their products are ‘one-off’ bespoke designs, others are made in small batches and some are designed with the commercial market in mind.

The ethos of CIC is simple – if children can dream big, they can do big.  The work undertaken by the CIC team ensures that children have the opportunity to achieve their goals and to participate in activities from surfing to horse riding - and even take part in triathlons.

Last autumn, the team at the Cerebra Innovation Centre helped six-year-old Imogen, who has cerebral palsy, reach the top of Pen y Fan, South Wales’ highest mountain, in a specially modified four wheeled mountain bike.

Imogen’s mum, Catherine, explained the difference the CIC team has made to her family.  “Imogen was so thrilled and excited to have completed the climb. It’s only thanks to the team at Cerebra that she’s been able to have this adventure - she’s never been able to do anything like this before because of her cerebral palsy,” says Catherine. “There have been so many times that she hasn’t been able to join in with physical activities which leaves her feeling left out. Being able to do things like this is a real boost to her confidence and self-esteem.”

Professor Ian Walsh, Dean of UWTSD’s Swansea College of Art is extremely proud of the team, adding: “The University is delighted that the Cerebra Innovation Centre has won such a prestigious award. The innovative and inspirational work of the Centre has transformed countless lives over the past 15-years”.

The Cerebra Innovation Centre is a collaborative partnership between UWTSD and Cerebra with the team being based at the University’s ALEX Design Exchange in Swansea.  CIC is also part of ATiC – the Assistive Technologies Innovation Centre within the University – and has a demonstrable track-record in providing practice-based research and development to support medical companies and healthcare related charities.

ATiC’s work is primarily human-centred and innovation-led which enables researchers to collaborate with businesses to develop creative interventions that improve health and wellbeing.  It is designed to support research collaborations in the life-sciences across Wales and builds upon UWTSD’s record of delivery in developing Research and Innovation excellence in the field of Health and Social Care.

For more information on the charity Cerebra, please visit www.cerebra.org.uk  

To read more about ATiC, please visit: https://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/atic/

Further Information

For further information, please contact Sian-Elin Davies, Principal Communications and PR Officer on 01267 676908 / 07449 998476 sian-elin.davies@uwtsd.ac.uk