TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION

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Business & Innovation Magazine

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 18 Oct, 2017
19 businesses and entrepreneurs from across the Midlands have won places to showcase their game-changing products at the UK’s leading innovation show – Innovate 2017 – which takes place on November 8 and 9 at the NEC in Birmingham.

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).



by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 18 Oct, 2017

Diamond 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."

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 18 Oct, 2017

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.

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 13 Oct, 2017
Natural energy drink, Overhang, has reached its target on crowdfunding platform, Crowdcube, raising a total of £150,000 to support growth of the brand.

 

The investment, which was raised by a total of 217 investors, will be used to strengthen the sales and marketing team, create a stronger social media presence, add sales resources and expand the existing distribution network.  

 

Will Wilkinson, Founder & Director of Overhang says: “The Crowdcube investment is yet another endorsement showing that there is real belief in Overhang as a concept. The funding will give the brand a real boost and we are delighted that our supporters have had the chance to invest in the business and be part of the journey.”

 

Overhang is an all natural energy drink based on a 100-year old family recipe. It contains orange, ginger and lime, as well as a host of botanicals and vitamins including milk thistle, raspberry leaf, burdock root, Vitamin C as well as a selection of B vitamins.

 

Launched in 2015 by a father and son team from Cheltenham, it can be found in over 1,000 stores across the UK including Tesco, Asda, Spar and Holland & Barrett.

The campaign will continue on Crowdcube until Tuesday 17th October at 11.59pm.

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 04 Oct, 2017

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.

 

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 03 Oct, 2017

Leading alternative network provider,  CityFibre , has partnered with Cheltenham-based ICT company,  Bamboo Technology Group  Ltd, to unleash the power of full-fibre beneath Cheltenham and Gloucester’s streets, giving businesses access to next-generation digital infrastructure and ultrafast internet speeds.

Local businesses will soon be able to harness the benefits of full-fibre connectivity after CityFibre unveiled new, alternative digital networks in both Cheltenham and Gloucester.

The move by CityFibre responds to growing demand for ultrafast connectivity in the region. A recent survey conducted by the company and Bamboo, revealed that over 60 per cent of businesses are languishing with an internet connection below 50Mbps.

With the modern full-fibre infrastructure introduced by CityFibre in place, businesses across the area will now have affordable access to almost unlimited bandwidth, with 500Mbps and 1Gbps internet services. This, in turn, will bolster further digital growth across the region as well as providing a boost to local business, driving investment and inspiring new start-ups.

CityFibre is now calling for local businesses to register their interest to discover more about the Cheltenham and Gloucester networks, their capabilities and how they can support their digital ambitions. Connections to the network can be secured through Cheltenham-based telecoms and ICT service provider, Bamboo.

With the core network in place, many businesses will be able to access the network and benefit from ultrafast speeds very soon. And due to ambitious growth plans, more businesses will be able to benefit as the network expands in Gloucester and Cheltenham and surrounding areas such as Staverton and  Quedgeley .

Nick Gray, City Development Manager at CityFibre, explained: “Poor connectivity has been an issue for businesses across Gloucester and Cheltenham for a number of years and there’s a recognised need to invest to meet the demands of the digital age, where slow and unreliable connectivity can be a real barrier to local businesses.

“We’ve successfully rolled out full-fibre infrastructure across the UK, including Bristol in 2016, and our expansion into two new areas will help the region reach its digital potential. Our investment in Gloucester and Cheltenham will stand to give businesses and services a modern foundation for growth, investment and innovation and a proven toolkit for increased efficiency, productivity and competitiveness. Together, these elements form the building blocks of a thriving regional economy and sustainable growth and position both areas alongside some of the most connected locations in the UK and the world. We’re looking forward to working alongside Bamboo in Cheltenham and Gloucester, as their experience, local insight and diverse range of solutions will be invaluable to aiding businesses take full advantage of the new infrastructure.”

Lorrin White, Managing Director of Bamboo added: “We’re excited to offer businesses across the area truly affordable, ultrafast fibre connectivity for the first time. With over 85% of businesses we spoke to expressing an interest in affordable 500Mbps, there is clearly a growing appetite and need for the service.”

“We have a wealth of industry in this area, and sectors like science and technology have made huge leaps in the region in recent years. We must have the infrastructure to allow these industries to continue to thrive. The gigabit network will make a real difference to Gloucester and Cheltenham’s digital landscape and we’re looking forward to working with CityFibre to support businesses across the area. We encourage more to get in touch and find out how they can join the network.”

Register interest in becoming one of Gloucester or Cheltenham's first Gigabit businesses, visit  www.cityfibre.com/gloucester   or   www.cityfibre.com/cheltenham   


 

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