Design Cognition News

Pharmaceutical packaging? don’t know? want to know? need to know?

Posted in Design Cognition News, Events, Healthcare & Pharma, Materials, Safety, Training, Uncategorized on August 4th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – Be the first to comment
Pharmaceutical packaging requirements can be a minefield

Pharmaceutical packaging requirements can be a minefield

Do you work in the pharmaceutical industry on the ‘periphery’ of packaging, working for example in Marketing, Purchasing, Design or QA etc , and have always wanted to find out more about packaging, but without having to attend a lengthy 3 day training course? Or perhaps you are a Packaging Technologist working on toiletries or cosmetics and want to gain a better understanding pharma issues and opportunities?

If so, then this ONE DAY TRAINING COURSE could be for you!

It’s being held on 14th October 2010 in Nottingham, UK

Pharmaceutical packaging is a very specialised area with its own unique issues & problems. This one day course will provide delegates with a good basic grounding & appreciation of what is required for the packaging of pharmaceutical & healthcare products. Whether you know nothing, have a basic understanding or are familiar with the area, this course will provide you with useful knowledge and insights from experts who have each worked in the industry for over 25 years.

What will be covered:

1.Packaging component & material selection Key product requirements (Consumer, Barrier, Shelf Life & Regulatory – Child resistance, Tamper evidence, Dosing & Stability. Marketing expectations.

2. Key properties of various materials / systems Main barriers & benefits of various packaging materials, Key drivers for pack performance, Supply chain implications on the packs

3. Pack testing & evaluation Mandatory requirements for Consumer testing & Transit testing.

4. Packaging component specifications Key requirements for a specification, Control of the documents.

5. Artwork generation & control Establishing processes suitable to your business needs – Wording & Templates, Creation, Version control & authorisation.

6.Regulatory requirements Packaging data for the MA , Braille, barcodes, Child Resistance, Tamper Evidence, Readability & others – including emerging requirements (e.g. 2D data matrix barcodes). Key packaging data for the MA/Dossier (Specifications & data, Supplier details). Key requirements for Braille etc.

7. Transit packaging Considerations of risk, Establishing test programmes, Specific requirements for palletisation etc.

8. Trade /supply chain requirements Understanding the various markets & their particular requirements, Understanding trade requirements (e.g. Barcodes, Shelf Ready Trays etc).

A full set of documentation will be provided.

You can find out more and register for this event by clicking: More information on Packaging of Pharmaceuticals – a One Day Introductory Course 14th October 2010

Chris Penfold

Building competitive advantage through packaging training & coaching

Posted in Design Cognition News, Events, Healthcare & Pharma, Opinion, Product News, Training, Uncategorized on August 2nd, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 1 Comment
As your training partners Design Cognition can provide all of your packaging-related training needs

As your training partners Design Cognition can provide all of your packaging-related training needs

We believe that the old adage that ‘your people are your most important asset’ is true. It’s fundamental that key members of staff keep pace with new technologies, best-practice processes and the continually evolving packaging regulations and standards – not an easy task for busy professionals, is it?

Additionally, it’s essential to keep a teams’ skills ‘honed’ to make sure that they are well-informed in order to help maintain competitive edge.

With that in mind, at Design Cognition, we have created a range of friendly, easy-to-learn and access courses to help you in two important areas:

1. Knowledge

To help you develop your own knowledge and experience, so that you are equipped to make better and more informed decisions.

2. Skills

To help you apply the information provided and learn through your own insights and experience.

The training sessions will be fairly interactive, providing plenty of opportunities for you to bring your current packaging problems along for review and discussion by the tutor, in confidence if necessary.

We guarantee to engage your interest and commitment on the courses and are confident our training will improve your effectiveness at work. In addition, you’ll receive a full set of course notes in a comprehensive ‘takeaway’ package for future reference.

We also encourage you to let us know what you think. We are always able to consider running a bespoke course for you, if that would suit you better, and most courses are available as in-house training programmes at your own premises.

You can find out more about our training events at: Design Cognition training programme

We have put together a range of courses, from areas as diverse as creative and technical disciplines and from processes ranging from artwork generation to cost-optimisation. Some of our initial topics include:

Pharmaceutical packaging, Branding and shelf impact, Introduction to packaging for non-packaging professionals, 2D Data Matrix barcodes, Braille and Sustainability.

Further information and dates will follow on our ‘Training’ page and we are continually adding to these events, so please pop back often to review additions, or ask to join our training mailing list (email: or call +44 (0)115 846 1914.

Chris Penfold

Would you like to get your hands on some EC funding to help develop & commercialise your packaging ideas?

Posted in Business News, Design, Design Cognition News, Environmental Issues, Healthcare & Pharma, Innovation, Materials, Technology on May 21st, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 6 Comments
EC Packaging Project Funding available

EC Packaging Project Funding available

Later this year (July) it is expected that the EC will publish a call for proposals to support the packaging industry to find new ways of adding value to its products. Large companies (>250 employees) can receive a grant of 50% towards their costs whilst SMEs can receive grants up to 75%.  The European Commission is looking for proposals that produce packaging concepts exhibiting the following properties:

· superb barrier properties in terms of durability and protection capabilities utilizing e.g. nanocoatings or thin films for enhancing consumer safety and to extend the shelf life of packaged, perishable goods;

· smart features incorporating nanotechnology such as indicators, sensors, protection against counterfeit and tampering, product traceability indicators, interactive components or biometric components which can be added to packaging  using low cost printing technologies, such as roll-to-roll printing;

· utilisation of materials derived from a sustainable and renewable source, recyclability or biodegradability, and the applicability of resource-efficient (material, energy, water) package production processes.

Maybe you are part of a large corporation that has identified some opportunities but don’t have the finance or resource to take them forward  (e.g. a sustainability or technology project that has the potential to ‘add value’)
or on the other hand, you could be part of an academic institution, Knowledge Transfer Network or SME who has a technology that is looking for a ‘home’.

Either way – I am looking for opportunities to help match you up, build a ‘value case’ and try and get our hands on some of this funding. So if you are interested – please get in touch: (putting ‘EC Funding’ in the title)

Chris Penfold

‘Joined-Up’ New Product Development Opportunities for Healthcare Businesses

Posted in Business News, Design Cognition News, Healthcare & Pharma, Innovation, Marketing, Opinion, Technology on April 27th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 6 Comments

Healthcare Development Partners logo

Design Cognition is proud to announce its partnership with a number of other successful healthcare New Product Development (NPD) companies in the Midlands to provide a ‘one stop shop’ service in consumer healthcare product development under the banner of ‘The Healthcare Development Partnership (HDP)’.

Collectively we are a group of highly skilled, experienced, like minded individuals and companies who have come together to offer a complete healthcare product development service.

As well as helping established companies redefine their market positioning, revamp and reinvigorate their product ranges, we will help new healthcare businesses overcome difficult first hurdles, bringing together all of the necessary resources under one ‘umbrella’ to get to market ‘at pace’ and ‘right first time’.

As well as continuing to run our own thriving businesses, as founding partners we all bring significant blue-chip corporate experience, having developed and launched hundreds of successful branded consumer healthcare products across the world. So Design Cognition will continue to provide the first-rate service to which you’ve all become accustomed, but now as a partnership we can build on that and together offer you so much more.

The enhanced services that we collectively offer span all aspects of product development, including strategy development, product formulation, packaging development, clinical development, medical and regulatory affairs, technology sourcing and product licensing. These services are underpinned by world class project management capabilities.”

Clients can utilise all the resources that The HDP offer or just access a specific area of our capabilities. Whatever your requirements, a project leader will provide single-point contact and co-ordinate all project activity. As part of The HDP we all combine depth and breadth of knowledge with a passion for healthcare, giving our clients tailored solutions and an integrated, seamless service.

If you’d like to find out more visit or new website  or drop me an email via

DAY 1 – Packaging Top 10 Tip No1 – Planning it out

Posted in Design, Design Cognition News, Healthcare & Pharma, Opinion, Social Media, Top 10 Tips, Uncategorized on March 4th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 4 Comments
Packaging Top 10 Tips

Packaging Top 10 Tips

In order to help you develop your packaging more productively, we have generated a series of  FREE short 1-2 minute videos detailing our Tip Ten Tips for getting it right. We will be posting 1 x video per day on this blog site over a 10 day period – so keep a look out for them – they could save you a £££$$$ fortune in the long run!

So here’s the first of our Top 10 Tip videos:

DAY 1 – Tip No1: Packaging ideas & issues to consider early on in the process, bringing your ideas to life and undertaking market research. Click on the link below to go to the video.

Happy Packaging. Cheers Chris

Today’s Video:

Packaging Tip No1 – Planning it out – by Chris Penfold – Design Cognition

Look out tomorrow for Tip No 2 – keeping it simple & fit for purpose…..

EasyFairs Packaging Innovations Success

Posted in Design Cognition News, Events, Exhibitions on February 26th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 11 Comments

A  big “Thank You” to  all of you who visited our stand at the EasyFairs packaging Innovations show over the past couple of days, it was great to meet you and have some really engaging and insightful packaging conversations. We had a tremendous number of enquiries, are working our way through all of the accumlated information now and will be get back to you all over the next few days.

“Happy Packaging” from all of the Design Cognition team!


Chris Penfold

Some of The Design Cognition team on the EasyFairs Packaging Innovations stand

Some of The Design Cognition team on the EasyFairs Packaging Innovations stand

Elo – packaging designer under the ”Creative Spotlight’

Posted in Branding, Cosmetics & Toiletries, Creative Spotlight, Design, Design Cognition News, Design Library, Drinks Packaging, Food Packaging, Gift Packaging, Marketing, Opinion, Uncategorized on February 25th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 10 Comments

At Design Cognition, we are passionate about packaging, design & creativity. We like to work with some of the worlds’ leading edge packaging designers, but also identify and nurture some of the brightest up-and-coming talent coming into the industry. We’re on a mission to unearth the very best designers and creators to see what makes them ‘tick, what ‘fires them up’ to get out of bed in the morning and who/what inspires them. We’re starting a a new initiative called the ‘Creative Spotlight’. In the first of the series we’ve interviewed a fantastic designer from California called ‘Elo’ (MarcELO), who has a very distinctive style all his own. Enjoy! and watch out for other great designer interviews coming soon! Chris Penfold

1. Elo, could you tell us where you’re from and how you got started in the field?

I originally come from South America, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I’ve also lived in Europe and Canada. Today I live in sunny San Diego, California. I came here for school, I graduated and I run my own freelance design company, ElO Designs. I was always involved with art ever since I was a kid. My sisters and I did some plays together and then I thought I was going to be a singer. I took singing classes for 1 year and I formed a band. We were great but too many. Then things started to fall apart and the band was over after a year. Since I like traveling, I wanted to create a website to show my friends and family the places I was visiting at the time. So, I bought my first HTML book and started to learn all by myself how to create websites using only the codes and the notepad. I thought it was a lot of fun and after that I never stopped. My older sister was a graphic designer at the time, she didn’t have a computer and was doing all the arts by hand. Using amber leaf and ruby leaf, gluing stuff together, using the T ruler and ink
pens that needed to be soaked in water over night. “What a mess it was”, (laughs) but I learned a lot from her as well!.

Elo's lovely 'te' packaging for an upmarket tea range

Elo's lovely 'te' packaging for an upmarket tea range

2. Elo, what gives you inspiration when starting a design project? How do you blend all of your ideas in a harmonious way?

Well, my inspiration comes from various places: TV shows, patters, nature, magazines, or just from playing my games sometimes. There are days that my mind is a complete blank. And there are some other days that I get up in the middle of the night with a great idea. Then I either have to write it down or go to the computer and start working on it right away… Now, if I’m working with clients I have a questionare that I send to them to try to understand what they want me to do. Most of the time things go smoothly but sometimes clients have no idea what they want and it gets a little bit hard. In that case, I would say that, when working with indecisive clients it’s always good not to send them too many ideas. Limit yourself to 3 concepts. I like working with colors but I don’t like it when the colors overpower the final composition. So, I try to be really careful on that. It’s also good to know and understand color theory, color wheel, primary, secondary and tertiary colors. That helps to find the balance in the final composition.

Elo's 'old globe' brochure work

Elo's 'old globe' brochure work

3. Did you study graphic design formally in school/college (did that include packaging & typography?) or are you a self-taught artist? And in your opinion what are the pro’s and con’s of each route?
I went to a great Design School here in California and I got an AA( associate degree) in Graphic Arts with great professors. I’m specialized in packaging and print design. I think that when you have some talent school always counts and you can learn great techniques from other professionals. I have seen great design work from people with no schooling and I have seen portfolios from people with Bachelor Degrees that make me think ‘Ummm…really???’. So, I guess it all depends. School helps, It will also help to get technical if you’re not so talented. But school won’t make you. You are the only one who will find your own identity as a designer or artist.

Elo's artistic 'Explore' range of book covers

Elo's artistic 'Explore' range of book covers

4. How do you define yourself as a designer and what strong point do you think that every packaging designer should have?

I define myself as an artist who has a design career for now. I think every packaging designer has to think ‘outside of the box’. It’s important to think about sustainability and about the practical part of the design you are creating. The most important thing is to think about the target audience you are designing/creating for, because they are the ones who are going to consume your product.

Elo's 'naturals' men's packagng range

Elo's 'naturals' packagng range

5. How do you feel that packaging design work differs from other areas in which you work? Why do you think that is?

Well, I like packaging and branding the most amongst all other things that I do.. I also love what I have been doing at the moment, called: “Photo Illustration”. It lets me be very creative and show the ‘true me’ as a designer. But I think all areas have their own importance. Today as a designer you must know a little bit about everything. We are all visual human beings and we are surrounded by designs everywhere. From the time get up to the time we go to bed. If the color differs, if the shape differs, if the usage of the product differs, if you respect the visual hierarchy, the product will cause an instant reaction to the consumers and will stand out from the shelves. That’s when you know the design really works, when it stands out amongst others.

'Birds' - an example of Elo's amazing 'Photo Illustration' work

'Birds' - an example of Elo's amazing 'Photo Illustration' work

6. What’s your favourite piece of packaging design work that you’ve undertaken yourself and why?

I’m happy with all my designs. I never put anything out there if I’m not 100% happy with it. But one of my favorite pieces is my “Eko” Home Cleaning Supplies Design. I put a  lot of thought into it. I was really happy with the overall result and I think I accomplished it beautifully, from the color pallet to the cohesion of the illustrations. The design was recently asked to be featured in a Japanese magazine about packaging and design. I guess I can call it successful right?! (laughs).

Elo's distinctive EKO packaging design

Elo's distinctive EKO packaging design

7. What’s your favourite all-time piece of packaging design that’s out on the market (i.e. designed by someone else) and why?

Oh Man…. that is a tough question for me ’cause I like so many designs. Target these days has great packaging designs. I like “Method” home products, I like “Scotch Brite” eco-friendly sponges, I like Paul Michel shampoo packaging, Aveda has great packaging and great ads as well, I like Michael Graves(industrial design) and Apple designs.

Distinctive packaging of the 'Method' range of homecare products

Distinctive packaging of the 'Method' range of homecare products

8. Thinking specifically about packaging design, who would you say provides you with “design inspiration,” meaning designers that you look up to; and also tell us why you feel this way about  them, what makes them special?

I try not to look much on already done stuff. So, this way when I design something I get my own signature to the product I’m working on. But there are tons of designers that I appreciate, I Like: Michael Graves(Industrial designs) visit his website at ( The guy is a genius. Everything he does has this round polished shape to it and when you look at his products you say: “That is Michael Graves”!

One of Michael Graves' zany kettle designs

One of Michael Graves' zany kettle designs

9.  Any final thoughts for our readers?

When you do something in life, do it with your heart. Always try to push yourself over the limit to get better and better. Read, undertake research, visit blogs, create your own blog, connect to some other groups. There are so many fantastic designers around the world. Never limit yourself. You won’t have fireworks all the time. And you might also find people with huge egos, who will try to cut you off or turn you down as in any other artistic industry. But if you stay true to yourself you will get there!

10. Elo, where can we find you on-line?

My personal website is always an endless work in process. Right now I’m still working on it but you can find me on-line in various places. Here are some:

That’s great. Thanks Elo and all the best for the future – you’re doing some wonderful work there – keep it up.



FREE advisory sessions – numbers limited

Posted in Design Cognition News, Events, Exhibitions on February 15th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 11 Comments

Design Cognition are offering a limited number of FREE product and packaging advisory sessions.  Are you worried about the non-compliance of any of your products?  Do you know what regulations your products need to comply to? – Why not book yourself one of these limited sessions and come for a chat?

 If you are attending easyFairs Packaging Innovations show at the NEC (UK 24-25 Feb) then why not take advantage of this fantastic FREE offer?  To book one of the limited 15 minute sessions simply email

 Places are limited though, so if you aren’t quick enough to book one, why not visit us on STAND 582 – right by the main entrance – to leave us your details and arrange a follow-up chat after the show.

If you’ve not already registered for the show why not do it now by following this link and becoming a Design Cognition visitor.

Patient Compliance – The Achilles Heel of Healthcare – Technology Breakthrough

Posted in Design, Design Cognition News, Healthcare & Pharma, Innovation, Materials, Opinion, Product News, Technology, Uncategorized on December 18th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 13 Comments

Below is a really interesting technological packaging advancement that is truly exciting and could have major benefits in the healthcare and pharma packaging & clinical trials sectors. Design Cognition also believe that this technology has further application in other dosage forms and sectors and is working with DSM TCG & GP Solutions (UK) Ltd to develop the OtCM™ and Dose Guard™ technologies in innovative ways to meet the demands of end-users and industry and bring this product to market in a viable & cost-effective manner.

Please contact me ( if you’d like more information or come and visit us at Packaging Innovations at the NEC, Birmingham UK on 24th or 25th Feb (stand 582), where we can discuss in more detail. You can register HERE.  Chris Penfold

When was the last time you forgot to take your medication? Odds are that it was within the last week. This makes you part of the millions of patients who don’t take their medications as prescribed by their physician. Medication non-adherence, or mal-compliance, as it is commonly called, is a problem that disrupts the healthcare system in many ways. If you don’t take your medication odds are that you won’t get the full benefit of the treatment. As former US surgeon general Dr. C. Everett Koop said, “Drugs don’t work in people who don’t take them”. In the worst case, you could be among the patient population who are hospitalized as a result medication non-adherence. The cost to the healthcare system? Phenomenal! Mortality count? Sinister! Morbidity rates? Unacceptable!

At its root, this problem, like many, is a problem of human behaviour. Even Hippocrates (460-377 BC), the “Godfather of Medicine”, gave early warnings of the non-compliance issues to his students and colleagues. (”Keep watch for that fault in patients which makes them lie about the taking of things prescribed.”). Even though we are “creatures of habit”, we often lose momentum when taking medications, especially for chronic conditions.

The Non-Compliance Money Waste List

The Non-Compliance Money Waste List

There have been several attempts at using technology to influence compliance rates. As one scans the Web looking for potential help, some solutions that arise include:   (1) A variety of medication reminders that will beep, blip or blurt when it is time to take your medication. (2) A variety of devices that can track the number of times a medication dosage has been removed from a medication pack or a medication container (USA) that has been opened. The data collected can be downloaded at the doctor’s office or pharmacy to check compliance statistics. (3) A variety of devices that can remind the patient to take their medications and confirm that they have taken it by pressing a button to send the data.  (4) A miscellaneous group of reminder devices with alarms, like automated pill boxes or wrist watches.

OtCM™ -  Objective therapy Compliance Measurement.

One of the weaknesses of these approaches is that one can never guarantee that the patients have taken their medicine after an alarm. In fact, one can’t detect if the medication unit dosage has been taken, or if the medication unit dosage has even been taken at the right time.

A new technology has arrived that has the potential to dramatically impact the therapy compliance rates for individuals, particularly seniors, as they go about their daily lives. The name of this technology is OtCM™, Objective therapy Compliance Measurement, using the most recent RFID/NFC (Radio Frequency Identification, Near Field Communication) technology, including embedded sensor functionalities, and combined with printed organic electronics.  The OtCM™ application was invented by Jos Geboers and Willem Kort, who are working in the healthcare industry, especially in clinical pharmaceutical R&D, Health Economics, Outcomes Research and Patient Recorded Outcomes.  To that purpose Messrs. Geboers and Kort initiated the foundation of a consortium that includes all players, i.e. top listed pharmaceutical companies, medication packagers, health insurers and Royal DSM N.V.: “The Compliers Group” (DSM TCG).  DSM TCG wanted a way to be as certain as possible that patients were taking their medications at the correct frequency each day. They knew that, whatever solution they decided on, it needed to be “real time” since any delays in therapy could have serious health consequences. A novel system for measuring the time and quantity of drugs taken out of conventional, existing medication packaging or medication container, is used.  “Leading” versus “Bleeding” edge …

The existing medication package will do …

The system consists of conventional, existing medication blister pack (or “bottle”) of a given prescription drug furnished with “organic electronics” (circuitry, power supply), i.e. functional polymers and coatings, to print “the micromechatronic blister/bottle”. A “traditional” silicon RFID/NFC IC (Integrated Circuit) that has been especially designed for OtCM™ with integrated interfaces for i.e. clock and temperature functionality, provide the intelligence to identify data (date-time) of pills/capsules that have been taken out of the blister pack/bottle, whilst wireless Radio Frequency (RF) techniques (NFC, Near Field Communication) are able to transfer data wirelessly from the “OtCM™ enabled blister/bottle” onto DSM TCG’s webserver.

Driven by the intelligence of the RFID chip, embedded in the “mechatronic circuitry”, and the printed power supply (capacitator, battery), an electric current is circulating through the circuitry of the packaging at regular time intervals. As soon as a dosage is removed out of the packaging, the chip is activated. This information is stored. When in close proximity of a (NFC) reader,  the recorded information in the packaging will be transferred and stored in the server to populate the Therapy Compliance Database of active patients, under all regulatory recommended & required security and privacy conditions, locally and globally.

The standard existing medication blister package will do at a fraction of the traditional costs!

The concept of using the technology of printing functional polymers and coatings is an innovative approach. A large variety of  applications in real-life situations has been brought about, especially for purposes of identification of products and, consequently, the packaging of products.  The standard medication blister package will do at a fraction of the traditional costs!   Moreover, until now, traditionally available therapy compliance devices are extremely costly, even if mass-produced. Mass produced RFID-tags combined with polymer printing will introduce low-pricing schedules, based on factors of 90-95% reduction vs. currently available “traditional electronic” OCM devices, i.e. pill boxes or so-called “smart pill boxes”.

DSM TCG’s OtCM™ technology can be combined with GP Solutions (UK) Ltd’s patented and approved Dose Guard™ solution; a child resistant senior friendly secondary barrier that when applied to a blister pack will render it safe for use. Both “come with the standard, existing medication package”.  From surveys it has been identified that patients and health practitioners (physicians, medical specialists, pharmacists) only appreciate the enabling of OtCM™ right from the medication packaging. There obviously is no need for an additional, “stand-alone” therapy compliance measurement (recording) device separated from the medication package.

During OtCM™ we measure through the standard medication packaging:

(1) when the pill/capsule is taken,

(2) the location of the removed pill/capsule onto the blister packaging,

(3) the correct dosing schedule,

(4) an acoustic signal might prompt the for action,  data re: expiration date,

(5) production information re: temperature, batch IDs from the production line,  drug interaction alerts.

This real-time “interventional approach” is what stands apart from other compliance solutions.  In conclusion, it is clear that there are several technological approaches that are aimed squarely at the problem of medication compliance. Though these advances give our “inner geek” some encouragement, they are ultimately targeted at making sure that at-risk populations stay on track as they take medications to improve their health status. David Rosa, Willem Kort

You can find further information on compliance and evolving technologies, via Design Cognition’s sister site The Pharma Gateway‘. Also, if you are interested in our forthcoming compliance workshops – let us know.

Contact Chris Penfold (

Season’s greetings from the Design Cognition team

Posted in Design Cognition News, Events, Healthcare & Pharma, Opinion, Social Media, Tweets on December 17th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 17 Comments

As 2009 draws to a close, we’d like to express our thanks and best wishes to all of our customers, suppliers and associates. Have a fantastic Christmas break and a happy & prosperous New Year and we look forward to doing further business with you all in 2010.

The Design Cognition team have put together the attached video production as a bit of light hearted seasonal frivolity.

We hope that you like it. :-)