Twelve pioneering research projects, including three from the University of Oxford and one from Harwell Campus, have received £80,000 support from The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, originally set up by Prince Albert, to achieve commercialisation by partnering with businesses. They include:
- The development of a ‘photocopier’ that helps white blood cells grow and could significantly reduce the cost of cancer therapies
- A cancer therapy that uses microscopic spheres to deliver radiotherapy balls internally towards a tumour
- A new computational model of consumer decision making, to help nudge consumers towards healthier purchasing habits
- A technique to help autonomous ships talk to humans using existing vehicle communications methods, such as radios
The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 has awarded Industrial Fellowships worth up to £80,000 to twelve of the UK’s most gifted young research scientists and engineers. The funding from the Commission, set up by Prince Albert to organise the Great Exhibition of 1851 and continued in perpetuity to use the profits to ‘extend the influence of Science and Art on productive industry’, will enable them to make an impact on their industry and wider society, by accelerating the development and commercialisation of new technologies. These Industrial Fellowships recognise the best research projects that could advance British industry, allowing companies to conduct innovative research that accelerates the creation of exploitable IP.
The technologies funded by the Fellowship include a cancer therapy that uses microscopic spheres to deliver radiotherapy balls internally towards a tumour, a system that allows autonomous boats to talk to humans through existing communication systems, and a ‘photocopier’ that helps white blood cells grow and could significantly reduce the cost of cancer therapies. They also feature a machine learning model that could help nudge consumers towards healthier purchasing habits, a temperature-sensing coating that can map the inside of a jet engine to enable more fuel efficient gas turbines, and a solution to increase the reliability of radar systems and improve the safety of driverless cars.
Bernard Taylor, Chairman of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, said: “It is critical that the young scientists and engineers that form the future innovation landscape of Britain are supported in their efforts. Our Industrial Fellowships provide funding to the most promising technologies that will enrich British industry, and allow the research to be directed towards commercialisation from the start of its development. We are proud to have awarded twelve impressive innovators with Fellowships this year. Their projects span a wide range of fields, including cancer therapies, autonomous boats and cars, aerospace engineering, and laser power, demonstrating the broad diversity of talent within the science and engineering resources of this country”.
The Industrial Fellowships provide graduates with up to £80,000 each to complete their doctoral studies, enabling them to develop innovative technologies with commercial potential in collaboration with an industrial partner and academic institution. The projects, funded for up to 3 years, will ideally lead to a patent or substantial business development, allowing the young researchers to conduct impactful research while gaining valuable industrial experience. The Fellowship programme plays a crucial role in facilitating the relationship between universities and industry in the UK, by offering highly valued funding for research and development into new intellectual property, totalling around £1 million every year.
The four Oxford 2018 Industrial Fellows are:
- Jonathan Vince, BTG Biocompatibles and the University of Oxford: Improving the distribution of internal radiotherapy in tumours using microspheres
- Aleksandr Kovaltsuk, UCB Pharma and the University of Oxford: Using big data to classify antibodies and improve therapeutic drugs
- Christopher Magazzeni, Rolls-Royce plc and the University of Oxford: Predicting fatigue in jet engines to make travel safer
- Mariastefania De Vido, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Heriot Watt University: Developing advanced gain materials for high energy, high average power lasers
The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 offers major awards to scientists and engineers for research, development and design. First established to stage the Great Exhibition in 1851, the Royal Commission’s extraordinary history is founded on an inspired vision of the importance of education to economic success. It has previously funded luminaries such as Nobel laureates Professor Peter Higgs, Sir James Chadwick and Paul Dirac.