Entrepreneur to take part in design symposium hosted by IUCA+D, Kelley

Marcel Botha was with friend Trevor Hardy, watching him feed his young son a few summers ago, when Hardy commented that the ergonomics of baby spoons were all wrong.

That conversation led to the creation of Spuni, a spoon that complements the instinct to latch and suck that babies develop during breast- and bottle-feeding, making dinner time less messy and ensuring the baby ingests more food overall.

“It was basically a Saturday morning project that got out of hand,” Botha said with a chuckle. The initial launch of the utensil went well, he said, and an updated version should appear on shelves in the United States in May.

Botha and Spuni

Marcel Botha and Spuni.

Botha is one of several speakers who will take part in “(d) design symposium” hosted by the Kelley School of Business and the Indiana University Center for Art + Design on April 9 and 10 in Bloomington and Columbus.

“Ideas are cheap, but most people don’t implement them because they don’t have the knowledge of how to go beyond that idea,” said Botha, who also developed a “smart cap” for an insulin pen with a built-in timer to help patients keep track of how long it’s been since their last injection. “I believe people will walk away from our panel discussion with a sense of some of the initial steps they might take to test a new idea. We’ll give a quick overview of funding structures, how they’re different and at what point you might take money. Sort of a ‘back of the napkin’ sketch and a discussion of how you would bring a product to the market, after it’s been tested in a proper fashion.”

The symposium will feature other leaders in design thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship, with speakers from the Wallace Foundation, Parsons the New School for Design, the School of Entrepreneurship within Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Syracuse University and Columbus-based manufacturing giant Cummins, as well as the Kelley School and IUCA+D.

“This symposium brings together leaders from a variety of fields to explore how to plan, create, shape and adapt innovation,” said event organizer Kevin Lair, a professor within the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design who teaches at IUCA+D. “We’ll investigate how design operates, why it is a catalyst for innovation and places where design is being applied to create unique outcomes, such as in the creation of organizations, services and new ventures.”

Symposium goals include building capacity for innovation locally; developing networks to support innovation within Columbus and marketing the community as a unique environment for transformative innovation; and fostering resilience in businesses and the community through innovative approaches, Lair said.

A complete schedule of speakers and sessions is available online. The symposium is free and open to the public. To register, contact kadams@columbusareachamber.com.

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