They have been selected from over 300 applications by hosts Innovate UK – the UK’s innovation agency – to be part of an exhibition of 96 shortlisted companies, with several of these very best of British innovators launching new products.
The annual event is expected to attract 2,500 businesses to the West Midlands. It offers attendees a chance to network with investors, hear from pioneering thinkers and find out about a range of expertise and government support.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street is a keynote speaker, while Birmingham Innovation Hub and the Midlands Engine are also involved.
In the past year, Innovate UK has provided £30.4 million in core grant funding to 240 organisations in the West Midlands – this includes 160 SMEs.
Mr Street said: “Innovation is what drives the economy and our region's future prosperity is focused on key growth sectors. Innovate UK brings the best of innovation to the West Midlands and I am delighted with the opportunity to be involved in something that showcases this and our region.”
Through a programme of speakers, Innovate 2017 will explore major themes relevant to the region such as smart cities and urban planning and what this means for the individual, businesses and government. Other topics include artificial intelligence, robotics, alternative food sources and space exploration.
Innovate UK Chief Executive Ruth McKernan said: “We are very excited to be taking our annual flagship innovation showcase to the Midlands this year. Innovate 2017 will be an excellent platform for showcasing the strength of Midlands innovation to a national and international audience.”
West Midlands businesses taking part include:
· Warwick Music Limited, www.warwickmusicgroup.com , the company behind pTrumpet – a hybrid innovation in trumpet manufacture using the very latest in plastic technology, which is lightweight and robust with a high quality performance compared to an equivalent brass trumpet (Tamworth).
· Adelan, www.adelan.co.uk , who are developing a prototype fuel cell generator for the high-value leisure market, which includes campervans, barges and sail boats. (Birmingham).
· Daden, www.daden.co.uk , who use 3D and VR products to support the latest training and learning in both corporate and educational environments (Birmingham).
· MOVONIx, www.movoball.com , who have invented and patented MOVOBall, a product that transforms a gym ball as a joystick and directional motion controller. (Birmingham).
Light Source, the UK’s synchrotron science facility based at Harwell,
Oxfordshire, is today (19 October
2017) marking 10 years since Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip,
Duke of Edinburgh, officially opened the facility. As part of its anniversary celebrations, Diamond is inviting members of
the public to follow in royal footsteps by visiting one of its public open days
to find out more about the exciting past decade of research and innovation.
Inside Diamond events offer the chance for visitors to see inside the particle accelerator and experimental laboratories, meet some of the scientists that use Diamond and ask them about the work they do - everything from viral proteins to engine parts and ancient texts.
For the past 10 years Diamond has exceeded expectations, with 2017 marking the publication of 6,000 peer reviewed journal articles, employees now topping 600, academic and industrial user visits now exceeding 9,000 a year and a whopping 60,000 visitors ranging from undergraduates and graduates, secondary school students, to members of the public.
Many everyday commodities that we take for granted, from food manufacturing to consumer products, from revolutionary drugs to surgical tools, from computers to mobile phones, have all been developed or improved using synchrotron light. For instance, technology was developed at Diamond to help design a new synthetic vaccine to protect against the foot and mouth disease virus and to target the virus that causes polio. Diamond has also supported progress in a number of other fields, including green energy solutions, advanced engineering and nanotechnology.
Prof Andrew Harrison, current CEO at Diamond, commented: “With these achievements in mind, all I can say is that I am humbled and proud to be at the head of such a great project and of the dedication of our current and former staff, contractors and user community from academia and industry.
“Let us not forget we here as the result of the vision of the UK Government and the Wellcome Trust had to invest together 15 years ago. We are all looking forward to an even brighter future! By 2020, Diamond will have 33 operational beamlines, which together with complementary facilities, will provide a truly integrated facility for virtually every field of science. I am confident Diamond will remain at the forefront of scientific research in the UK, Europe and globally.”
The Royal Opening
At the official opening of Diamond 10 years ago, the Royal Party toured the synchrotron machine – an incredible feat of science and engineering measuring over half a kilometre in circumference and covering an area over three times the footprint of Buckingham Palace. During the visit, they were shown how the powerful light is produced and exploited, along with the range of science to which Diamond had already started to contribute.
The Queen and The Duke met many of the staff, scientists, engineers and technicians from Diamond who helped create this world class scientific facility in the Oxfordshire countryside in just five short years.
Professor Gerd Materlik, former CEO of Diamond, said at the time, "We feel extremely honoured by the royal visit, which not only marks our official opening, but also pays tribute to all those involved with the design, construction and now operation of Diamond. From the very beginning, we have placed great emphasis on the importance of community collaboration. Early in 2007, we welcomed our first academic users from universities across the UK and in July an open day, attended by over 4,000 people, allowed us to share with the local community in Oxfordshire the wide range of science that has started here - from research into the structure of medicine to the mapping of chemical composition of meteorites."
Voneus, the rural community broadband specialist, has acquired Cotswold Wireless, the local high-speed broadband provider – its first acquisition since raising over £5 million in growth funding in June 2017.
Aiming to be the UK’s market leader in rural broadband provision, Voneus expects this acquisition to increase the company’s capacity to connect a further 3,000 homes and businesses – growing its reach while increasing its market credentials. Cotswold Wireless specialises in high speed broadband for the Cotswolds, helping over 400 homes and businesses in the local region. This purchase strengthens Voneus’ network and will help additional households and businesses in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire become connected.
It is the first time either firm has undertaken a move of this scale. Part of the Voneus ‘buy and build’ strategy to accelerate its growth plan, this purchase is the first of many to ensure the business scales quickly and efficiently, while importantly ‘connecting the nation’.
Expanding the Voneus network throughout Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire, this purchase will connect more local families, enable remote-working and ensure enhanced access to education through heightened rural connectivity.
Cotswold Wireless was founded in 2004 and specialises in delivering fast, reliable broadband to the Costwolds. Voneus which first entered the market in 2011 has already scaled its expansion plans since raising £5.3m growth funding in June 2017. Specialising in Wireless ‘Air Fibre’, Voneus is accelerating its rapid growth to achieve a national footprint, while bringing parity between rural areas and city dwellers.
“Our mission is to rescue rural communities from the pain and indignity of slow broadband, without them having to wait years for Fibre”, says Steve Leighton, CEO, Voneus. “Buying Cotswold Wireless, helps accelerate this. The important thing is increased access to communities and we want to make sure the ‘digital divide’ between urban and rural areas drastically decreases so people can go about their everyday lives interruption-free”.
Tristram Charnley, Founder, Cotswold Wireless says, “Being part of the bigger Voneus network will give our existing customers access to new products, increased service benefits and other opportunities over time”.
New customers can be live and receive high speed broadband within months, not years, with no roads required to be dug up. Voneus works with supportive Tier 1 providers on initial connectivity to install broadband quickly and effectively to deliver speeds between 35Mbps and 50Mbps using an innovative Wireless Fibre To The Home (WFTTH) solution, rivalling other services in the industry. The company currently has ongoing installations in Devon, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire.
England’s Historic Cities consortium which includes Oxford through the local Destination Management Organisation (DMO) Experience Oxfordshire, and Worcester has secured a £1 million investment from the Discover England Fund for an innovative new project to encourage more US visitors to explore regional England.
The Collection brings history to life through story-telling enhanced by augmented reality and will feature itineraries that link the cities by rail, making it easy to plan and book a multi-destination trip. Delivered through the historic cities app, it will act as a central point for local information that highlights places to eat and stay alongside trips, tours and travel options. www.heritagecities.com .
Marking the first time that England’s Historic Cities have collaborated in this way, The Collection is one of a number of successful projects to receive funding from the UK Government’s £40 million Discover England Fund. The Fund is administered by VisitEngland and aims to ensure that England stays competitive in the rapidly growing global tourism industry, by offering world-class English tourism products to the right customers at the right time. The Fund is a central government funded programme of activity, supported by match funding by partners in the public and private sectors.
Hayley Beer-Gamage, CEO of Experience Oxfordshire, forms part of the Project Board for The Collection project and said “Heritage is a huge draw for US visitors to England. The Collection will enable Oxford and the wider County to share our amazing stories through cutting edge technology, and bring wider exposure to this important international market. This is a great opportunity for us to use new technology to attract visitors to our fantastic destination and a very exciting project for us to be part of.”
The project is being managed by a board chaired by consortium member Ruth Connor, CEO of Marketing Lancashire. Ruth said “We are thrilled to have secured investment from the Discover England Fund. England’s Historic Cities represents some of the best experiences that England has to offer to international visitors and we can’t wait to bring them to the attention of the US market. The consortium has a strong track record of working together but this is the most ambitious project we have tackled together. We are grateful for the support of our partners and look forward to showing the results of our work.”
Joining the 13 members of England’s Historic Cities for this project are Truro and Worcester and the City of London. The project is also supported by London & Partners, English Heritage and UK Inbound.
London & Partners Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Cooke, said "London & Partners is delighted to be partnering with England's Historic Cities' consortium to promote England's rich cultural heritage to an international audience. As both the gateway to these cities and a unique reflection of England's history in its own right, London is central to the visitor experience. We look forward to working with the consortium to help visitors to make the most of London and their onward journeys throughout England."
VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe, said: “The calibre of submissions reflects the innovation in product development thriving across the country’s tourism landscape. The successful projects will boost international and domestic visitor growth creating a step-change in the industry and spreading the economic benefits of tourism across England. England’s Historic Cities winning project uses augmented reality to place the user at the heart of England’s history, making visiting a compelling proposition.”
The facility was opened by Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Inc. The student-centric venue aims to build a community of innovation across the University, inspiring and supporting Oxford’s 23,000 students to develop their entrepreneurial skills or create and scale commercial ventures.
The Oxford Foundry will embrace students across all academic disciplines from engineering, medicine, history, philosophy and more. It will be a place for students from different backgrounds to experiment, learn from one another, and generate ideas and initiatives that address business and societal issues: whether their ambition is to launch their own start-up or to develop an entrepreneurial mind-set to drive innovation from within an organisation. Students will be encouraged to play a major role in designing and leading activities.
As a world-leading university, Oxford University has produced more founders of Unicorn businesses ($1 billion upwards) than any other in Europe, and has a strong history of students launching and establishing successful start-up companies. The Oxford Foundry will support the institution to continue to translate its academic research into innovative solutions with commercial and societal impact, on an international scale.
Building on the success and popularity of the Oxford Launchpad at Saїd Business School, which is home to the Entrepreneurship Centre and Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, the Oxford Foundry was initiated and developed by Oxford Saїd for the benefit of the whole of the University.
The Oxford Foundry is housed in a renovated Victorian ice factory in central Oxford and is spread over two floors. It offers co-working space, presentation areas, and a café at ground level - enabling entrepreneurially-minded people to meet, collaborate, create new ventures, or build the skills to bring innovation into their careers. Upstairs, there is an incubator space for accelerating new ventures.
Ana Bakshi, Director of the Oxford Foundry said: “Entrepreneurship is of increasing importance to students. As a generation, millennials desire to be more socially responsible, innovative and to make an impact. Whether starting their own ventures or aspiring to lead in organisations, the Oxford Foundry will develop students’ entrepreneurial skills, understanding and self-efficacy. The aim is to create future leaders whatever career they pursue.’
The Oxford Foundry has been made possible by the generous support of the some major donors: Reid Hoffman, Co-founder of LinkedIn, the Amersi Foundation, EY, Barclays, Meltwater Fairhair.ai, and DeTao Education Group. An Advisory Board, chaired by Brent Hoberman, will bring expertise, insight and advice to the Foundry community.
Reid Hoffman comments: ‘I am a firm believer that to solve big issues and challenges, we need more entrepreneurial thinking and development, and what better place than within education. The Oxford Foundry will act as a hub to support and develop entrepreneurship within Oxford and bring students together from lots of different backgrounds and academic areas to experiment and prototype new ideas. This will create amazing, transformative ventures that will make a real impact, and ultimately make the world a better place.’
Peter Tufano, Peter Moores Dean, Saïd Business School, concludes: ‘The Oxford Foundry will be a hub for innovation and idea-generation. By inspiring and developing new generations of Oxford student entrepreneurs we can hopefully transform their lives and our collective future.’
Business Secretary Greg Clark has announced the universities which will lead pioneering research into the next generation of battery technology.
Business Secretary Greg Clark has announced the consortium of UK universities that will form the Faraday Battery Institute, a new £65 million research institute responsible for building the UK’s status as a global leader in battery research and technology.
The Institute will bring together the expertise and insight from its 7 founding partner universities, industry partners and other academic institutions to accelerate fundamental research to develop battery technologies. Ensuring the UK is well placed to take advantage of the future economic opportunities from emerging technology.
The universities forming the institute are:
· University of Warwick
· University of Oxford
· Imperial College London
· Newcastle University
· University College London
· University of Cambridge
· University of Southampton
Announcing this major investment in the UK’s research base Greg Clark said:
“Through the Faraday Research Challenge we are cementing our position as the ‘go-to’ destination for battery technology so we can exploit the global transition to a low carbon economy.
“The Faraday Battery Institute will have a critical role in fostering innovative research collaboration between our world-leading universities and world-beating businesses to make this technology more accessible and more affordable.
“We have huge expertise in this area already and the Faraday Battery Institute collaboration between our 7 founding universities provides a truly unique opportunity for us to bring together our expertise and an effort in this area behind a common set of strategic goals to ensure the UK exploits the jobs and business opportunities.”
With £65 million of funding through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Institute will invest an initial £13.7 million to set up a headquarters.
EPSRC Chief Executive Professor Philip Nelson said:
Climate change and moving towards low carbon economies mean the demand for clean energy production and effective energy storage, in the UK and globally, is rising.
The Faraday Institute will bring leading academics in the field of battery development together to explore novel approaches that will meet these challenges and accelerate the development of new products and techniques
EPSRC is pleased to be helping establish the Institute, and the drive to keep the UK a prosperous and productive nation.
The Business Secretary confirmed in July that the government would be making an investment of £246 million, over 4 years, in the Faraday Research Challenge to ensure the UK builds on its strengths and leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of electric batteries.
The Faraday Research Challenge is divided into 3 streams - research, innovation and scale-up which is designed to drive a step-change in transforming the UK’s world-leading research into market-ready technologies that ensures economic success for the UK.
The Faraday Research Challenge is just 1 of 6 areas that the government, together with business and academia, identified through its flagship Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) as being one of the UK’s core industrial challenges and opportunities, where research and innovation can help unlock markets and industries of the future in which the UK can become world-leading.
As part of cementing the UK as a global leader in autonomous and battery vehicles, the government will unveil shortly the winners of its first £55 million Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) testing infrastructure competition.
This follows the government opening its £100 million CAV test bed competition in April, inviting proposals for how to create a cluster of excellence in driverless car testing, along the M40 corridor between Coventry and London, to accelerate the development of this technology, grow intellectual capital and attract overseas investment in the UK.