Cutting edge university research being showcased at British Science Week

The UK’s most successful university technology transfer partnership will be hosting a free event on September 12th to showcase some of its latest cutting edge developments and investment opportunities to businesses and R&D (Research & Development) organisations.

Midlands Innovation (MI) has the largest formal collaboration of Technology Transfer Offices in the UK, working together in a programme known as MICRA - Midlands Innovation Commercialisation of Research Accelerator.  The partnership generates more patents per pound of research income than any other UK university alliance, and on Thursday September 12th it will be hosting its first MICRA Showcase event to highlight its latest research and investment opportunities.

The event is being held at the University of Warwick as part of British Science Week, and will showcase some of the MI universities’ successful spin-out companies as well as giving a platform for businesses in the region to find out more about the exciting research coming out of our institutions.

This MICRA Showcase is themed around three key challenges outlined in the Government’s Industrial Strategy; new solutions to help meet the needs of an ageing society; leading the way in artificial intelligence to transform business and society; and developing sustainable, resource-efficient technologies to move towards a circular economy.

This event will be the first in a series which will showcase the wide-ranging opportunities and sectors that MICRA is addressing. Speakers at the event include:

Ageing Society: new solutions for longer, healthier independent living

Dr James Brown, who is the Director of Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA), has extensive experience in broadcasting and consulting on programmes including 'Holding back the years' (BBC1), 'How to stay young' (BBC1) and 'Old Peoples Home for 4 Year Olds' (Channel 4).

Artificial Intelligence (AI): growing the economy, transforming society

Professor Andy Pardoe, who is the Chief Executive of Informed AI Group and head of the new AI Incubator at the University of Warwick, as well as being an expert advisor to the All Parliamentary Group on AI.

Towards a circular economy: design challenges

Professor Gary Leeke, who is Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham, has over 20 years expertise in resource efficiency and the development of processes to recover, upgrade and remanufacture materials and chemicals from waste.  

Dr Helen Turner, Programme Director for Midlands Innovation, said: “British Science Week will focus on the breadth of science and the impact it has on everyone’s life, and so it’s an ideal time to shine a spotlight on the impact of scientific research by MICRA partners.

“Working with business to translate cutting-edge research and innovation into real-world applications is at the centre of what we do. Our collaboration with companies, generating tangible outcomes and improved business performance opportunities, shows our commitment to delivering extensive social, economic, environmental and technological impacts from the world-class research excellence generated across the partnership.”

MICRA, which is funded by Research England, aims to create a spin-out and start-up environment that will significantly increase the innovation productivity of the Midlands region, supporting the Government’s Midlands Engine initiative to help to accelerate the speed at which innovations can reach the market by creating a joint pipeline of scalable investment opportunities.

MI universities are already highly effective at identifying new inventions, patenting these, and starting up spin-out companies to develop and commercialise new technologies.

Businesses and public sector organisations with an interest in R&D in these areas can book their free space by visiting: micragateway.org/showcase

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For further information, please contact Sarah Alton, Midlands Innovation, on: 0115 74 87 464 or email: sarah.alton@nottingham.ac.uk

Media interviews and photo opportunities

There will be opportunities to meet the speakers and the team from 09.30 on 12 September to 15.00 at the Oculus Building, University of Warwick. Media to RSVP their attendance to Sarah Alton on the phone number / email address above.

Notes to editors:

MICRA Showcase – key facts

  • 15 speakers representing spin-outs and projects from all 8 universities in the partnership
  • 6 spin-out companies – 2 in circular economy, 2 in AI, 2 in Ageing Society
  • Loughborough University will be showcasing their modified vehicle which demonstrates novel diesel nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions technology.
  • This showcase is the first of a series of events which will take place throughout the programme, including technology and industry focused workshops and sandpits, and events showcasing the projects MICRA is supporting with funding and training.

The MICRA programme is funded by Research England

Speaker Profiles for each of the three sessions are outlined on the following pages:

Session one:

Ageing Society: new solutions for longer, healthier independent living

Dr James Brown

Director of Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA)

As well as his involvement in the Extracare project, James has extensive experience in communicating science including broadcasting and consulting on programmes including 'Holding back the years' (BBC1), 'How to stay young' (BBC1) and 'Old Peoples Home for 4 Year Olds' (Channel 4). James is a lecturer in biology and biomedical science and a researcher into obesity, diabetes and healthy ageing. He is a Trustee of the British Society for Research on Ageing (BSRA), the world's oldest biogerontology research society. His PhD was on the role of fat-secreted hormones in pancreatic function and James now works in the related field of body fat and how excess adiposity affects health and disease.

Dr Brendan Spillane

Business Development Manager, Warwick Ventures

Brendan is working with Care Companion, a web-based portal for carers which was designed and developed by the University of Warwick School of Medicine. After PhD research on DNA fingerprinting at Cardiff University, he embarked on a career in software sales and marketing, working for a range of blue chip companies, including New Brunswick Scientific, Pharmacia Biotech, PDI and Computer Associates.

Brendan later moved into the field of technology commercialisation, becoming a Senior Technology Transfer Manager at Isis Innovation, the University of Oxford’s technology transfer company, and is now at Warwick Ventures, where he has been involved with the commercialisation of over 30 start-up companies.

Dr James Amor

CEO Augmented Insights

Augmented Insights is a spin-out company from the University of Warwick which uses data analytics from sensors in the home or in care homes to predict problems and allow early intervention. James graduated from the University of Southampton in 2007 with an MEng in Computer Science, and went on to do a PhD focusing on the identification of human behaviour patterns from long-term health and wellness monitoring systems. In 2012 James moved to the University of Warwick to take up a post-doctoral position working on the Unobtrusive Smart Environments for Independent Living (USEFIL) project, specifically on wearable devices for assisted living. Augmented Insights was spun-out from the University in 2018.

Professor Pip Logan

Professor of Rehabilitation Research at Nottingham University

Pip is part of the PrAISED programme, at Nottingham University looking at how tailored interventions and exercise can reduce falls in people with early stage dementia. After a degree in Occupational Therapy at the University of Derby, she then undertook her MPhil at the University of Nottingham, which was a community-based randomised controlled trial of occupational therapy for stroke patients. In 2004 she gained her PhD at the University of Nottingham, a randomised controlled trial evaluating an outdoor mobility intervention for stroke patients. She has received two NIHR fellowships, and is the Chief Investigator for a £1.8 million National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) HTA research grant which is exploring falls in care homes.

Professor Hua Dong

Professor in Design at Loughborough University

Hua is a leading expert in inclusive design and has been involved in many international projects on design solutions for home based care for the elderly in China, Finland and the UK. Hua started her career as a research associate at the Cambridge Engineering Design Centre where she obtained her PhD degree, collaborating closely with the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art.  She has taught Industrial Design as a lecturer and senior lecturer at Brunel University and as a Professor at Tongji University, Shanghai.


Session two:

Artificial Intelligence: growing the economy, transforming society

Professor Andy Pardoe

CEO Informed AI Group

Andy is the head of the new AI Incubator at the University of Warwick, and Principal Director for Artificial Intelligence at Accenture, as well as being an expert advisor to the All Parliamentary Group on AI.

Dr Marcus Ong

CEO Spectra Analytics

Marcus founded Spectra Analytics, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) software consultancy, design and development firm, as a spin-out from the University of Warwick in 2014. They are building the world's first 'AI Factory', with a conveyor belt of new AI based products. The factory is built upon their scalable AI platform that allows them to rapidly develop, deploy and manage AI products, and they are currently part of the £1m funded PATCHS project using AI as a triage tool in NHS primary care settings.

Jonathan Jackson

CEO Previsico

Previsico is a global provider of real-time, street level flood prediction and analytical solutions, and a spin-out from Loughborough University. Jonathan is also the Royal Society's Entrepreneur in Residence at Loughborough University and has extensive experience working with early stage tech businesses

Dr Allison Gardner

Keele University

Allison lectures at Keele University in Bioinformatics and Data Science and is the co-founder of Women Leading in AI. Her research is primarily focused on algorithmic bias; gender and computing; AI Ethics and Governance of AI. She works on the IEEE P7000 Global Initiative on the Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems and the ISO standard on Artificial Intelligence. She speaks internationally on AI Ethics, the need for diversity in tech and the potential regulation and governance of AI.

Jose Rojas

University of Leicester – Leicester Artificial Intelligence Network

Session three:

Towards a circular economy: design challenges

Professor Gary Leeke

Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham

Gary has over 20 years expertise in resource efficiency and the development of processes to recover, upgrade and remanufacture materials and chemicals from waste and led the EPSRC funded EXHUME project, investigating the deconstruction of fibre reinforced composite. He sits on the Composites Leadership Forum Sustainability Working Group for composites UK. He currently leads the chemical engineering activities on the Faraday Institution funded Re-Lib project investigating the recycling of lithium ion batteries.

Ravish Jain

Commercial Director Recycling Technologies

Recycling Technologies is a growing feedstock recycling start-up company, deploying modular feedstock recycling units to recycle mixed plastic waste at source, starting in Scotland this year as part of a pioneering Advanced Plastics Recycling Facility; with more projects in the pipeline in the UK, Europe and Indonesia.  Ravish leads on securing further investment and funding, and all commercial contracts. Ravish joined soon after the company’s foundation and since then he has raised multi-million pounds in government grants. Previously, he spent years at Reliance in business development and financing of multi-billion dollar projects. Ravish has an MBA from Warwick Business School, and a degree in Mining Engineering.

Dr Filomeno Martina

CEO WAAM3D

WAAM3D is a spin-out company from Cranfield University which provides all elements needed for a successful industrial implementation of the Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing  process: CAM software, specialist hardware, first-right-part and prototyping, certified wires, training, support. Dr Filomeno Martina is Senior Lecturer in Additive Manufacturing at the Welding Engineering and Laser Processing Centre, Cranfield University, and manages the WAAMMat research programme, which is currently worth £9M. He received his PhD in Additive Manufacturing from Cranfield University in 2014 and previously he earned an MSc also from Cranfield and an MEng in Industrial and Management Engineering from Polytechnic of Bari (Italy). He has received awards from BAE Systems (2010, 2018), Royal Aeronautical Society (2013), European Space Agency (2015), and The Welding Institute (2018).

Jonathan Wilson 

Loughborough University

ACCT (ammonia creation and conversion technology), has the potential to facilitate ‘virtually zero-emission’ diesel engines and has won industry awards. Jonathan is part of the team developing and commercialising the technology, and in April this year he took a prototype vehicle on road tests through the Swiss Alps and achieved 98% NOx reduction.

Posted on Friday 6th September 2019