Cumbria Crystal

Project assessment and strategy development

FIS360 has provided project assessment and strategy development to support Cumbria Crystal in bringing to market their novel lead-free lining for full lead crystal.

The client

Cumbria Crystal has been producing exceptional, handmade crystal tableware for over 40 years, and is one of the last remaining producers of hand-blown and hand-cut full lead English Crystal in the UK.  Highly skilled artisans use traditional glassmaking methods to make crystal in both time-honoured and contemporary designs, with products supplied to luxury retailers and luxury goods designers around the world.  Their products can also be seen on the sets of acclaimed television and film productions such as Downton Abbey, Poldark, and James Bond.

Cumbria Crystal applied to the Innovus programme in search of proof-of-concept funding to bring to reality their concept and vision for a lead-free lining of their full lead crystal that would enable them to enter a new sector of the luxury drinks market.

The technology

Cumbria Crystal’s new technology concept was developed in close alliance with the spirits packaging industry to address a growing demand for fine quality hand-crafted spirits bottles of highly regarded provenance, to be used for packaging limited edition, old or special whiskies and other spirits. 

An opportunity was identified to provide spirits containers that maintain the unmatched weight and sparkle of traditional lead crystal, while protecting the bottle contents and the customer from trace amounts of lead that may leach out during extended periods of storage.  

The aim of the proof-of-concept project was to develop the required lead-free glass composition to be used for a thin lining of the traditional lead crystal, without impacting on product quality due to mismatched mechanical properties between the lining and outer crystal. 

The process

During the development of Cumbria Crystal’s Innovus funding application, FIS360 experts carried out a review of the technology and the commercial landscape for the end product, reviewing their funding application, advising on potential business models and the structure of their relationship with a potential licensee, as well as supporting a freedom to operate assessment of the technology.  These activities were crucial to ensuring the project secured funding from the Innovus investment committee.

FIS360 also provided guidance on the structure of the commercial arrangement between Cumbria Crystal and an early investor in the technology from the spirits packaging industry.  At the same time, FIS360 provided expert advice on the intellectual property strategy for Cumbria Crystal and the most effective way to protect their innovation to allow them to fully capitalise on the technical and financial investment made during development of the technology.

The outcome

Cumbria Crystal was successful in their application to the Innovus programme and were awarded £47k, a contribution of 70% towards their proposed project for development of their lining technology. 

During the active project phases, FIS360 provided monitoring of project delivery against expected outcomes, and Cumbria Crystal succeeded in producing a viable, independently verified glass composition for lining of their full lead crystal products.  They have now successfully marketed their product.