The Launch

Posted 1 year ago

Hello everyone and welcome to LaunchSpot!

LaunchSpot at Newcastle University are launching a series of competitions to design and develop apps to support people living with mental health issues. We want to bring together software developers, charities, and people with lived experience to have open and honest conversations about how we can create technologies to better the lives of people living with mental health issues. This is an opportunity for you to have your say, propose ideas for technologies, support other people’s ideas, and see a technology backed by £20,000 and deployed in the community!

So where did LaunchSpot come from?

We have been running a series of hackathons (or design events) over the last few years, where we have been inviting teams of designers, coders, researchers and people with lived experience to come together and share ideas and experiences, and build prototypes to explore the potential for technology to help mental health. These events have been a huge success, and we want to build on these exciting ideas and propel them into a space where they can become a reality.

The Create4Dementia event ( in 2015 brought about lots of amazing ideas and has inspired this first competition. If you click on ‘Inspire’ you will see that the LaunchSpot team have added some ideas from this event – explore them and be inspired!

The Team

Posted 1 year ago

We thought it would be good to post on this blog to tell you a little bit about ourselves – since you’ll see us posting around the site quite a bit, and since we are quite a mixed bag! So here is introducing Ed, Nataly, Mark, Tom, and me (Kellie)…

Ed Jenkins
Twitter: @edjenkins91

Edward Jenkins is a research software developer working on the development of self-sustainable community driven applications. Edward completed his bachelor’s degree in computer science at Newcastle University. Edward holds a strong interest in mobile application development, web-design and graphic design with the intent of creating scaleable systems and clean interfaces.

Launchspot is just one of Ed’s projects here at Open Lab. His previous project, App Movement aims to bridge connections between local communities and rich information resources. It enables anyone to propose an idea for an application, gather support, collaboratively design and automatically generate native mobile applications that empower their community to share rich information. App Movement uses a templating system with its primary template offering a way to rate and review geo-located points of interest.

Event Movement is a more recent piece of work by Ed, which takes the fundamental concept of App Movement and extends it to offer a much more flexible and engaging design process. Event Movement facilitates interactions between users to coordinate a collaborative design process. By decoupling the concept of commissioning from apps, Event Movement has allowed researchers at Open Lab to explore the implications of collaborative online design sessions targeted at creating real-world events.

Nataly Birbeck
Twitter: @nataly_birbeck

Nataly is currently a researcher in Digital Civics at Open Lab. She did an undergraduate degree in Sociology at Newcastle University, graduating in 2011, and after this she worked as a Research Assistant in the Faculty of Health Sciences at York St John University.

Nataly is particularly interested in mental health challenges and how digital technologies can create a platform for individuals to interact and help those who need it. Her PhD project at Open Lab focuses on designing processes for ensuring the meaningful participation of marginalised populations in designing for their futures.

In 2016, Nataly organised a design event at Newcastle University entitled Self-Harmony, which focused on the development of digital technology to support people who self-harm. This design event aimed to bring together people interested in mental illness, people who have or are experiencing mental illness, people who can build and design, and people who are interested in technology. Nataly believes that digital technology can be a powerful force to realise positive change, and future Launchspot campaigns will focus on self-harm as a response to her previous work in this area.

Mark Sleightholm
Twitter: @MarkSleightholm

Mark is the media and communications officer at Open Lab, and he looks after the Lab’s public output.

Mark manages press coverage and the Lab’s social media accounts, oversees public engagement in digital civics projects and tries to bring some order to various Lab websites!

He previously studied history at Newcastle University. Alongside his studies he worked, first as a news editor and later as deputy editor, for The Courier, Newcastle’s award-winning student newspaper. It was his interest in journalism and the media that brought him to Open Lab, and we are glad to have him!

Tom Nappey

Tom has made the website and our various media look as great as it does today. His background is set in the field of industrial design where he’s gained experience working with major companies including Unilever, Philips, Mars, Bowers & Wilkins and Unilever to name but a few. His role as a designer is mainly centred around the ideation, design and fabrication of micro electronics hardware with expertise in 3D modelling software and render packages to produce industry standard mass manufacturable designs. His previous pieces of work have involved the collaborations of multi-disciplinary teams where his skills have also been applied to developing the UI/UX of user based platforms and services.

Kellie Morrissey – i.e., me!
Twitter: @KellieMorrissey

I’m a psychologist by background. My research focuses on the experiences of people with dementia and their carers, and the potential for digital design and technology to help them live meaningful and connected lives within their communities. I carried out my PhD in the School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork, and within that project I worked within nursing homes, where I explored the potential for digital musical interactions to create opportunities for performing, connecting with one another, and belonging in community.

Keep an eye out for our various postings around the website, or drop us a line!

The Hackathon

Posted 2 years ago

Create4Dementia was an event hosted by Open Lab and sponsored by funds from the EPSRC and NIHR Mental Health Network. In May 2015, we invited teams of designers, coders, hackers, makers and researchers to come to Newcastle-upon-Tyne to Create-4-Dementia. Our aim was to bring people together to share ideas, experiences and concepts as well as build digital prototypes that break-down, problematize and otherwise explore the digital design space around dementia and dementia care.

Launchspot is inspired by the creative ways in which team members came together in this event to propose exciting solutions to complex social issues in dementia. If you check the inspiration phase, you’ll see where the team has added some of the ideas from Create4Dementia. And check out the original site here, where you’ll get a blow by blow account of how the event ran:

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