For a liquid nitrogen ice-cream company that creates completely bespoke flavours, innovation isn’t a problem. The business’ inventive Cyromixer – a machine that churns limitless types of ice cream in 30 seconds – has put the company on the map in the food and drink sector and doubled its turnover each year.

However, with just 16 employees, the time needed to develop and commercialise a product like the Cryomixer, while promoting and expanding the business, puts progress on hold.

“With Co-Innovate I was able to allocate design work and help grow the business,” said Whipsmiths founder and Brunel alumnus Brad Smith. “We’d probably be a few months behind as a result.”

Already aware of the talent pool available at Brunel, Brad was invited to pitch his brief to 150 final year design students.

One of those students was Tom Potter. He tested the efficiency of the Cryomixer while coming up with performance improvements including a turntable allowing the machine to clean faster, thus producing more ice cream. Tom’s developments also aided transportability, which made the Cryomixer more commercially viable.

Tom is now employed as a director of Whipsmiths: “The Co-Innovate initiative definitely got me into my current role,” said Tom, who took the job because of the freedom it gave him as a designer. “Whipsmiths were very pleased with what I had done and so I was hired to continue what I started during university. I have since become involved with other projects within the company.”

Now using his previous studies like mechanical design and 3D modelling, Tom has the opportunity to develop a machine distributed throughout the UK and internationally.

Whipsmiths continues its reciprocal partnership with Brunel: “It’s fresh eyes on the parts and on the business,” said Brad. “If we find that one of the students is particularly good, we’ll hire them.”

Rebecca Ash, another Brunel student, has designed Cryomixer prototypes to take hygiene regulations and efficiency into consideration on a commercial level.

Whipsmiths has found a niche with people who like good ice cream, but some design assistance was needed: “It’s a lot easier now for support,” said Brad, “Businesses are fighting for students rather than the opposite.”

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