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Lewis Hornby

Innovation Design Engineering, 2016–18

Following his grandmother’s diagnosis for dementia, Innovation Design Engineering graduate Lewis Hornby was inspired to create a product Jelly Drops to help combat dehydration – a common problem among patients. Lewis’s graduate project won several awards and received widespread media attention including being reported by the BBC.

Jelly Drops is one of 12 RCA projects exhibited at the 2018 Global Grad Show, and here he discusses the story behind ‘Jelly Drops’ and the next steps for this exciting invention.

What were you doing before you started studying at the RCA?

I was studying for a Master’s in Civil Engineering at the University of Bristol before coming to the RCA. While in my first year at Bristol, I discovered the Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) Programme at the RCA and set my sights on studying there.

What was it that attracted you to study at the RCA?

I felt that engineering was too restrictive. I wanted the opportunity to work creatively and with more freedom – the IDE Programme seemed like the perfect place to do that.

How did your work or thinking develop during your time on IDE?

To begin with my projects were very focused within engineering and technology. For example, I made a huge steel and concrete chair and designed a cheap substitute for steel reinforcement. It wasn’t until later, as I progressed through the Programme, that I started to consider people and behaviour as the basis for my projects.

What was the inspiration for your final project, Jelly Drops?

During my time at university my grandma was diagnosed with dementia. She was finding drinking increasingly difficult to the point where it would become very serious and she would be hospitalised. Dehydration amongst people with dementia is increasingly becoming a large problem.  With seemingly little being done to combat the issue, I thought it would be a good challenge to take on for my final project... it also gave me a good excuse to see a bit more of my grandma!

What are your future plans for the project?

I’m now working full time on Jelly Drops with two other IDE graduates based in the Olympic Park, London. We are currently conducting further trials, working with a food innovation lab and talking with potential manufacturers to scale production.  

You've won a number of awards as well as gaining international press for your project, next up is Dubai Design Week 2018. What are you most looking forward to?

A bit of sun! But more seriously I’m looking forward to feedback from people in related fields and different cultures. It’ll also be interesting to see all the other work on display, and perhaps there will be the chance for collaboration with people working in a similar area.

How will the exposure of bringing your work to the Global Grad Show support the future development of Jelly Drops?

I was lucky enough to have a lot of media interest in Jelly Drops from the RCA Graduate Show earlier this year. What’s been really is exciting is that as a result of exposure from the Global Grad Show, I’ve already been contacted by research organisations that would like to trial Jelly Drops. The GGS will be a great opportunity to get in touch with others that can help Jelly Drops progress. 

What do you hope to do next?

Bring Jelly Drops to market as soon as possible. We’ve already booked our slot at the Dementia Care Home Expo in Birmingham in March. We’re working on being in a position to start supplying Jelly Drops by then.

You're also part of the team behind another successful project that has received a lot of attention, Pluvo. How do you find working on your own compared to working in a team?

Jelly Drops started getting a lot attention at a busy time for Pluvo, we were talking to investors and bringing on new team members; so there have been a few late nights to stay on top of everything! Both projects are in an exciting place, and we're hoping to carry them forward, but I'm focusing my time on Jelly Drops.

For more information about Lewis Hornby’s Jelly Drops, please visit the website

or Facebook page.

"I wanted the opportunity to work creatively and with more freedom – the IDE Programme seemed like the perfect place to do that."
Lewis Hornby
Lewis Hornby