Skip to main content

Warning notification:Warning

Unfortunately, you are using an outdated browser. Please, upgrade your browser to improve your experience with HSE. The list of supported browsers:

  1. Chrome
  2. Edge
  3. FireFox
  4. Opera
  5. Safari

Design on the Frontline - design student scholarships

2023-24 Spark Scholars


Why the HSE is conducting this initiative

Scholarship specifics

Project brief

How to apply for the scholarship

Selecting students for the scholarship

Judging projects

How we can help you

Terms and conditions



  • A total of 12 scholarships offered to 5 different design schools in the country – 2 per school and 2 additional high potential candidates.
  • Promotion of collaboration between designers and healthcare professionals to solve clinical problems in the healthcare service. Successful candidates will receive a €1000 scholarship bursary in support of costs. The HSE spark team will offer their support in gaining access to healthcare staff and facilities. The student will retain all their existing project ownership rights as set out by their college.
  • 12 students will have their work displayed at a national showcase on 31 May 2024.

Why the HSE is conducting this initiative

The HSE is a challenging environment for patients and healthcare professionals alike; by fostering collaboration with designers, we are better placed to tackle the challenges that currently exist within our healthcare system.

The Spark Innovation Programme is keen to support innovation and change in all forms. We are happy to bring forward an initiative which supports young designers who may have an impact on the future of our healthcare system.

Our hope is that your project may be supported, scaled and implemented to impact patients or staff on a local, regional or national level.

The HSE will not claim ownership over your project.

Schools included:

  • Maynooth University
  • NCAD
  • University of Limerick
  • TU Dublin
  • Atlantic Technological University Sligo

Scholarship specifics

  • Scholarships are offered to students of design programmes for the academic year of 2023-2024 – this includes Bachelor, Masters and PhD students.
  • Head of programme/course/module will assign scholarships to applicants (external assessors may be used if the college wishes to do so).
  • Scholarships are worth €1000 each
    • the school itself is in control of the bursary
    • receipts for materials should be presented for reimbursement
  • If a school does not have 2 students to participate, these scholarships may be passed to other schools that have students interested.
  • Applications are made online and the deadline is 23 February 2024.
  • Selected students will sign an agreement stating that they are happy to participate in the above and are willing to showcase their work in person, online and/or via social media channels.
  • Collaborations with hospitals or healthcare workers should be recognised and documented.

Project brief

Design a solution/product that demonstrates a measurable benefit to any element of the Irish healthcare eco-system, for example:

  • patient and staff satisfaction
  • cost benefit
  • improved quality of life (QoL)
  • reduced hospital stay
  • reduction in patients attending acute hospital services

Have you identified an aspect of Irish healthcare that demonstrates poor patient satisfaction?

Can you spot an unnecessarily expensive aspect of healthcare?

Do you know of a particular patient group that has an unnecessarily poor quality of life due to their health circumstance?

Are some patients spending unnecessary and unproductive time in hospitals that would be better served at home with supporting technology?

Have you identified another pinch point that can be improved with design input?

Suggested project topics

While we are interested to hear about any solutions that address the above criteria, you may take some inspiration from these 3 areas.

  1. How might we shift patients and users of the healthcare services from the acute hospital setting to community and homecare settings?
  2. How might we improve the experiences of both patients and healthcare?
  3. How might we improve healthcare services in the hospital setting?

How to apply for the scholarship

Click here to apply

Selecting students for the scholarship

Your college/university will review submitted applications along with the HSE Spark team, and select the most suitable candidates for the scholarship based on the above criteria.

If your college/university would prefer an external reviewer for applicant selection, we will try to facilitate this. The same criteria will be used as above.

Judging projects

Judging is carried out by an expert panel of designers, industry and healthcare professionals.

How the projects will be judged:

  • defining the clinical problem
  • solution – relevance and usefulness
  • impact – how it impacts the clinical problem
  • scalability – can this solution be implemented locally, nationally or internationally
  • validation – how can you measure improvement
  • design for manufacture – value engineering and manufacturability (if a product solution)
  • presentation – quality and effectiveness of communication

If the solution produced is of a regulatory nature (requiring CE marking), a non-regulatory solution produced in tandem would gain additional marking from our expert panel. The HSE is a public entity and would prefer solutions of a non-regulatory nature which could be more easily implemented.

How we can help you?

We can link you directly with our network of frontline healthcare professionals.

We have the support of national HSE library services in which 5 makerspaces are being established (areas that students can use to produce prototypes).

Locations include:

  • Connolly Hospital Dublin
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Drogheda
  • Midlands Regional Hospital Tullamore
  • University Hospital Galway
  • Cork University Hospital

We have librarians in locations across Ireland who are happy to speak to design students and support them in research and offer spaces to work if required.

Selected students may have connections of their own in order to gain access to healthcare sites or patients; however if you require help in gaining access, we are happy to help facilitate this.

Terms and conditions

  • The solution must be healthcare related.
  • There must be a solution or physical product to display at the national showcase for the problem that you have found. This may be supported by service and digital elements.
  • Students must be willing to showcase their work in person and/or via social media channels.
  • Spark Innovation Programme will not own the proprietary rights of the project.
  • Projects must be completed by 31 May 2024 for national showcase.
  • Video pitch (maximum 4 minutes) should be prepared for the showcase and the scholar must be available to attend the online event.
  • If there are issues in gaining access to a clinical site – we will try to facilitate this.
  • An agreement must be signed by the student before receiving the scholarship bursary.


Related document

Design on the Frontline - student scholarships 2023-2024 poster (PDF, 1.5 MB, 3 pages)