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NETWORKS T h e S c i e n c e E n g i n e e r i n g & Te c h n o l o g y M a g a z i n e
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Encouraging innovation and investment.
We are here to help businesses invest, grow and expand throughout County Durham. That’s why we’re driving forward the development of NETPark and NETPark Net – to ensure that the perfect environment is in place to help science and technology companies grow and flourish. To find out more about how we can help your business grow in County Durham, visit:
www.wherebusinessgrows.com or call us on: 0191 370 8680
where business grows
FOREWORD Networks reports on the very latest science and technology news, putting discoveries and advances in the context of everyday life – showcasing the scientific excellence of County Durham and the North East. Scientific and technological excellence that is vital to the future wealth creating capability of our region and that has been given a focus by those who shape our economic strategy. Concentrating on the exploitation of advanced technologies, key priority sectors have been identified as having significant economic potential. Chemical and process industries and nanotechnology are two of these key sectors. Chemicals and process, for instance, is the North East’s most extensive manufacturing sector – making a huge contribution in terms of companies, sales, supply chain, jobs and exports. And it has the dynamic leadership of the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) to help ensure it continues to thrive. The sector also benefits from The North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC] bringing together many of the largest manufacturing companies in the region. Emerging technologies such as nanotechnology and printable electronics have enormous potential, and the region has fantastic facilities, not least those at NETPark, that support high-technology industry and put the North East at the forefront of developments. Developments that will have important implications for energy use, materials, healthcare and life sciences. Access to finance is crucial if we’re going to get the best out of the world-class research taking place in our universities and the infrastructure in which we’re investing. So, we’re fortunate to have a £125m package available here in the region. Finance for Business has been made possible by a unique collaboration between the European Investment Bank (EIB), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and regional development agency One North East (ONE). Its six funds, managed by five different fund managers and targeting funding at companies from different sectors and stages of growth, is set to increase the momentum of business enterprise and SME development here in the North East. You’ll find more on all of this, and on a range of other innovative developments in County Durham and the region in the pages of this issue of NETWorks. Stewart Watkins Managing Director, County Durham Development Company (CDDC) CDDC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Durham County Council, encourages innovation and strategic investment in the County and is driving the development of the North East Technology Park (NETPark) and the virtual innovation environment NETPark Net.
NETWorks is published by Distinctive Publishing Ltd, Aidan House, Sunderland Road, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear NE8 3HU Telephone 0191 4788300 Managing Director John Neilson Creative Director Martin Williamson For all enquiries including editorial, subscription and advertising please contact Distinctive Publishing. With thanks to all our contributors.
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06. NEWS & EVENTS...NOT TO BE MISSED 08. The Green Revolution 10. MAJOR BOOST FOR COMPANIES OF THE FUTURE 11. PUTTING SPECIALITY CHEMICALS ON THE MAP 12. “…BUT I DIDN’T THINK WE COULD PATENT THAT!” 14. FAST TRACKING HIGH TECH BUSINESSES 16. GLOSS MEASUREMENT SHINES IN THE NORTH 18. INVESTMENT AS CELLS COMPANY GROWS 20. ENGINEERING COMPANY ON THE MOVE 21. FIRST INVESTMENT INTO LOCAL BUSINESS 22. SECURING SUCCESS WITH SOFTWARE CITY SUPPORT 23. NE COMPANY AHEAD OF THE GAME WITH £6M INVESTMENT 26. the big interview 28. Innovative Thinking for Successful Global Networking 29. The opportunities of an ageing population 31. THE POSITIVE CHOICE 32. NEW HOPE FOR PARTIALLY-SIGHTED PATIENTS 34. AWARD FOR INTRAHEALTH 35. NETPARK WELCOMES A NEW TALENT 38. SPICE UP YOUR EXPORTS 40. SCIENCE NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD 42. Science Festival Provides a Brainwave For Future Workforce 44. SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRIES GROW 46. DARLINGTON COMPANY AT HEART OF WAVE POWER PROJECT 47. SENERGY ECONNECT RECEIVES GRANT TO DEVELOP 48. EXCITING TIMES ARE BLOWING IN THE WIND 49. HARNESSING EXPERTISE IN THE WORLD OF WINDFARMS
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NEWS & EVENTS... NOT TO BE MISSED BioNano Experiment in Space When NASA’s Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off last month nanoscale research reached new heights. A payload of microorganisms was carried on board to experience a gravity-free environment. The experiment, dubbed Micro-2, investigated how bacteria production of biofilms is impacted by microgravity.
McGill Team Builds DNA Nanotubes for Drug Delivery A team of McGill Chemistry Department researchers led by Dr. Hanadi Sleiman has created flexible DNA-based nanotubes that can encapsulate, load and deliver a cargo. These DNA structures are only a few nanometers wide but can be extremely long, about 20,000 nanometers. The treatment of cancer is a possible future application for this discovery.
Durham Scientist Elected Fellow of the Royal Society Everyone at NETWorks extends congratulations to Professor Jeremy Hutson of the Durham Chemistry and Physics Departments. Professor Hutson, a distinguished molecular physicist, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). Quick links If you want quick links to university chemistry departments in 140 countries plus details of journals and learned societies at home and abroad, visit www-jmg.ch.cam.ac.uk/data/c2k/ New Sciences Complex for Sunderland University The University of Sunderland is to benefit from a new £7.5m sciences facility which is expected to bring major benefits to people and health sector businesses in the region. Due for completion this December, the project will see more than 4000 sq metres of existing university buildings turned into high quality, accessible science facilities. THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
Microscience 2010 International Conference and Exhibition 28 June - 1 July ExCeL in London is the venue for the Royal Microscopical Society organised event focusing on the latest in microscopy and imaging.
Nanofair 2010 6 - 7 July Dresden, Germany. The 8th International Nanotechnology Symposium. www.nanofair.com
BRAIN WAVE 10 15 - 17 July Science and technology has an impact on just about every aspect of our lives – our work, our homes, our health, our safety. Bright ideas can become life savers, energy savers and fascinating gadgets but we need to keep the brainwaves coming. Brainwave 10 is just one part of a much wider programme of events designed to keep the community aware of the fascinating innovation taking place at the North East Technology Park (NETPark) and the career paths science and technology can offer tomorrow’s workforce.
Groups of Key Stage 3 students from schools across the region will visit NETPark over two days and there will be an open day for children and adults, 17th July. Activities will be fun, interactive and engaging and the aim is to inspire a whole new generation of bright sparks.
Oktoberfest 2010 7 October Rainton Meadows Arena, Houghton-le-Spring. The North Eastâ€™s premier engineering and manufacturing event. Make new contacts, initiate new commercial prospects and meet buyers. Sponsored by Durham County Council. www.durhamoktoberfest.org.uk
Nanosafe 2010 www.brainwave10.co.uk
16 - 18 November
Grenoble, France. Focuses on the safe production and use of nanomaterials.
29 August - 2 September
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. Focuses on accelerating commercialization activity among established and emerging micro and nano businesses. www.mancef.org/coms
3rd Chemical Purchasing Summit 16 - 17 September Boston, Mass., USA. Global and regional economic recoveries, world and local supply issues, energy and credit issues and projected prices of key feedstocks. www.icisconference.com/chemicalpurchasing
The Green Revolution NORTH EAST ENGLAND has long been a major hub for the process and chemical industry in the UK. From the Government built plant constructed at Billingham in 1917 to produce ammonia for use in explosives during World War I, to the historic opening of the 1900 acre Wilton Site by HRH the Queen in 1946 – the Petrochemical cluster of Billingham, Wilton and North Tees fast became the largest integrated chemical complex in the UK. The chemical industry flourished and scientific and engineering skills developed to world leading standards, to such an extent that the growth of new chemistry-using industries could be supported. Diversification from heavy chemicals came in the form of speciality chemical products, utilising the products from the regions petrochemical and commodity producers. And the diversification did not stop there – the North East’s highly developed engineering and scientific skills attracted pharmaceutical companies to the region, who in turn attracted the fine chemical companies that supply into them. Today, over two hundred chemical, pharmaceutical, speciality and biotechnology companies have bases in the region, which accounts for £9 billion, or 30 per cent of North East England’s gross domestic product. The sector, which is represented by NEPIC (North East Process Industry Cluster), generates 60 per cent of the Teesside economy, with 70 per cent of trade in goods that pass through Teesport, Europe’s third largest port, originating from the sector. But the region’s industry has undoubtedly, like many sectors in many regions, encountered a period of turbulence as it has battled issues such as capital investment and international trade flows shifting towards our Middle Eastern and Asian counterparts and the global consolidation of business across the globe. This coupled with the effects of the ever increasing economic
downturn the world has been tackling, would without question have catastrophic unavoidable efforts on Europe’s process industry. And North East England and Teesside in particular were subjected to the dire effects first hand as the banks stopped lending and consumers stopped purchasing. However, in the words of Bob Coxon and the region’s true fighting style “we may be bloodied but we are certainly not out”. North East England is very dependent on the health of its process industries as it is by far the largest part of the regional economy, largest GDP generator, largest exporter, largest manufacturing employer and largest industry for private R&D. And with the dawn of the green revolution bringing with it major challenges for industry, it also brings with it a new angle on its future. Industry is renowned for being high carbon emitters as in its nature it is energy intensive, therefore the concept of green chemistry to some may be unimaginable – but this is exactly where the industry’s future lies, in new technologies and new processes to help combat this major global concern. Government has set targets for Carbon Dioxide, or CO2, emissions to half by 2050 – yet our energy demand is likely to double, with population growth resulting in further demand for the everyday goods produced by the Process Industry. Broken down by sector, 22 per cent of the UK’s Carbon Dioxide emissions arise from transport; 24 per cent from industry; 34 per cent from electricity; 15 per cent domestically; and 5 per cent commercially. When broken down in this way, we can see that chemical using industries can not only reduce CO2 emissions within their own sectors, but also have the potential to impact on all of these areas, although many new technological approaches will be needed to have a significant impact.
The chemical industry uses energy products, namely oil, gas and to a small degree coal and biomass, not only as a source of energy but as a principal raw material for its final products, and therefore fundamental in the production of most things we take for granted in our daily lives. The industry’s heavy dependence on fossil hydrocarbons, current high oil and gas prices and the ambition to achieve a lighter carbon footprint has led to considerable efforts to widen its feedstock base, in particular through the greater use of biobased renewable raw materials. While in principle, a large amount of chemical substances can be produced from renewable raw material, the technical and logistical difficulties must not be underestimated. Industrial producers require substantial volumes of feedstock of a consistent flow and consistent quality. The main challenge, and a major cost factor in the use of biobased raw materials, is the need for suitable infrastructure in order to deliver the huge quantities of feedstock needed for large scale production of chemicals, which is crucial to make it commercially viable. NEPIC’s work points to biorefineries being established adjacent to existing infrastructure like that of Teesside – excellent port, roads, rail connections, pipelines – being essential to any future project that will have a significant impact on climate change. In the area of Biofuels, the region continues to be at the forefront of this vital sector and NEPIC continues its work to attract global producers to invest in sustainable production of biofuels and achieve the vision of North East England as an international hub for these products.
A fine example of the regions success in the area comes in the form of Bioethanol producers, Ensus. Annual production from the £300 million plant on Teesside is expected to meet about a third of the UK’s bioethanol demand under the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, which requires 3.5 per cent of all transport fuel to come from biofuels in 2010-11. The saving in carbon emissions will be equivalent to taking 300,000 cars off the road. But savings are not only achieved through major capital investments. Significant savings can be made via business adopting Efficient Processing via the use of less electricity, energy sources and raw materials, which can contribute drastically to an organisation’s CO2 reduction programme. NEPIC’s Productivity & Efficiency Team has helped to identify efficiency improvements totalling £60 million over the last three years. This improvement comes from a group of twenty companies that have fully engaged with this Cluster activity. This level of bottom line improvement is being achieved year on year by these organisations that have embraced the input and cultural changes brought about by NEPIC and its partners PICME and MAS-NE. In one company alone a bottom line improvement totalled £1.5 million per quarter. For more information on the region’s transition to Low Carbon Manufacturing and NEPIC’s involvement in the area, please visit www.nepic.co.uk
Innovation through Collaboration to Commercialisation We provide hands on support to Universities, RTDs, and small and large businesses in the North East of England, looking to develop new products and technologies in the areas of biotechnology, diagnostics and medical devices, pharmaceuticals, regenerative medicine or the life sciences.
THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
PUTTING SPECIALITY CHEMICALS ON THE MAP Teesside University’s Science 2 Business Hub is helping to define the factors that affect the global speciality chemicals industry by developing a roadmap for the sector, identifying the challenges and opportunities North East companies will face over the coming years. The industry-led Science 2 Business (S2B) Hub strives to create projects and innovative solutions for science using small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in the North East within a three year timeframe. The roadmap, with a strong focus on market need and technological advancements, will enable innovation to be targeted in the region. Kevin Martin, Operations Director at Exwold Technology Ltd, a contract chemical processing company based in Hartlepool, explained, “To remain competitive it is important that all businesses stay abreast of technological developments or changing markets and become aware of any commercial or technical support that becomes available. Obtaining access to appropriate information can be difficult - particularly for an SME. The work being done by the S2B Hub facilitates this process by engaging companies in innovative projects and developing ties with academic providers. This type of support can help SMEs to identify solutions to problems and capitalise on opportunities that would otherwise be missed.” The speciality chemicals sector forms an important part of the industry and is typified by high value innovative products with relatively low throughput. The growing emphasis for speciality chemicals is on developing new products to meet changing market demands. In the North East of England, the chemical industries have an annual turnover of around £9 billion, making a major direct contribution to the region’s economy with approx 30% share in its GDP. Alongside this, the European speciality chemicals market generated total revenues of £147.4b in 2008 and is forecast to generate total revenues of £182.6b by the end of 2013, with £2.5b of this in the North East alone.
The chemicals industry is dominated by large firms, yet it is often the smaller companies that can provide the flexible and integrated approach required to produce high level speciality chemicals. New technological frontiers will be opened as the distinction between a functional device and the component materials becomes blurred. These changes towards flexible production processes and higher purity products are enabled by a number of factors: n n n n
sustainable, cost effective design of the synthetic routes micro process and in silico technologies process integration and intensification new catalyst concepts.
The drive towards sustainable energy sources creates opportunities to develop new intelligent materials with novel electrical, optical, mechanical and magnetic properties. Whilst further opportunities will exist in areas such as: n tailored functional materials for healthcare, well-being and
nutrition n materials and routes to new sustainable technologies n new methods for optimum synthesis of materials.
However, a number of barriers including the skills gap and strong competition from Asia, Russia and the Middle East will create many new challenges to overcome. The S2B Hub is working hard to address some of these concerns. S2B is helping companies to improve the quality of R&D by encouraging open innovation, providing industry case studies to exemplify best practice, increasing awareness of available funding and signposting to sources of expertise on regulation and intellectual properties. It’s also helping to improve the quality of products and process through access to expert advice. To find out how you can benefit from this support, or contribute to the proposed speciality chemicals roadmap, contact S2B now: T: 01642 738200 E: email@example.com www.tees.ac.uk/s2b
“…BUT I DIDN’T THINK WE COULD PATENT THAT!” There are many misconceptions about the patent system. This is understandable, given that most people do not spend a large proportion of their time interfacing with the patent system. One such misconception we frequently hear is “software is not patentable”. This misconception could be particularly damaging to the North East, given the significant number of software-related businesses based in the region.
contradiction is explained by those two words “as such”. On the one hand, a new computer programme for computerising a well-known manufacturing method is generally not patentable. However, a computer programme implementing a new method and, importantly, having a “technical effect” (i.e. solving a technical problem), may well be patentable.
For example, many people know that the software code they produce automatically obtains copyright protection, but often believe that computer programmes cannot be protected by patents. In fact, under some circumstances, they can be protected by both. Because of this misunderstanding, many companies are not fully protecting their IP.
Returning to the example of the computer programme which improves the control of an automatic braking system (ABS), although the computer programme controls standard hardware, the control method produces a technical effect, i.e. better braking. As a result the invention would be patentable, even though it could only be carried out by a computer, provided it was also new and inventive.
Let’s explore this misconception in a bit more detail. Suppose you have developed a new computer programme which improves the control of a conventional automobile automatic braking system (ABS). In other words, the computer programme controls standard hardware but achieves more effective braking. The “clever bit” of the invention is in the software controlling the apparatus. Your competitors would like to develop and launch a similar product based on the same concept. Can you stop them?
Whereas copyright comes into existence automatically as soon as a computer programme is written, a patent can only be obtained if a patent application is filed before the invention is disclosed to anyone (other than under an agreement of confidentiality). Drafting and prosecuting patent applications is one of UDL’s core services. Our patent attorneys have experience drafting patent applications across a broad range of technologies. UDL has offices in Newcastle, Leeds and throughout the UK.
You automatically have copyright protection for the computer programme, but this only offers protection against someone copying your actual software code and does not stop your competitor from writing his own code “from scratch”. Patent protection, on the other hand, can be used to prevent your competitors from marketing any product incorporating your invention, even if they developed their product independently.
If you would like more information on protecting your ideas, contact Martin Vinsome or Graham Archer of our Newcastle team to arrange a free consultation.
The misconception over the patentability of computer programmes has arisen because many jurisdictions, including the UK and Europe, explicitly prohibit patenting of computer programmes “as such”. In reality, however, the UK and European Patent Offices grant patents to thousands of “computer-implemented inventions” every year. This apparent THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
Urquhart-Dykes & Lord LLP Level 12 Cale Cross House Pilgrim Street Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6SU Tel: 0191 261 8573 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.udl.co.uk
Supporting the growth of the North East Process Sector
NEPIC (North East Process Industry Cluster) represents the 500 Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Speciality, Polymer & Rubber, Petrochemical & Commodity Chemical companies based in North East England and was established by industry to improve the competitiveness of these sectors within the region and develop its long term future. North East England is also home to an equal number of supply chain companies that support the regionâ€™s process sector, making this a major economic cluster whose power and importance to the region and UK cannot be over emphasised. NEPIC is a membership organisation with its member companies benefiting from industry led leadership and co-ordination of activities which has mutual benefit. The secret to NEPICâ€™s success is that top industrialists from all sectors in the region form the NEPIC Leadership Team, whose key activity is to ensure the growth of this vital sector. To see how NEPIC can help your business & become a part of this advanced knowledge contact: +44 (0)1642 442 560 or visit www.nepic.co.uk Business Opportunities | Supply Chain Connections | Networking | Marketing & Promotion | Investment Support | Productivity Programmes | Technical Support | Buying Groups | International Trade | Skills & Education
FAST TRACKING HIGH TECH BUSINESSES A new business development team has been set up to help high growth small businesses turn their scientific innovations into strong commercial realities and help boost the region’s wealth. The Innovation Accelerator, managed by the Centre for Process Innovation, at the Wilton Centre, Redcar, has been established to give technology driven North East start-ups support getting their enterprises off the ground. In addition to offering business development resources, the Innovation Accelerator project is building a 10,000 sq ft fully integrated technology incubator incorporating specialist laboratories, pilot plant and office space at the Wilton Centre. The units will allow fledgling companies to hone cutting edge products and processes while eliminating the peripheral start-up costs like laboratory equipment. The units will be open by the end of the year and the facility is the first custom built incubator for process industry SMEs in the UK. Dr Mike Anderson, Director of the Innovation Accelerator said the establishment of small high-tech businesses will be crucial for speeding up the economic recovery of the region and the country, and the infrastructure and expertise is now in place to attract them to the North East. “Small, high growth businesses based on a science innovation often face fierce competition and challenges during the start up phase. For first-time entrepreneurs this can be extremely daunting – especially if they are from a scientific rather than a commercial background. “The Innovation Accelerator is specifically aimed at entrepreneurs looking to commercialise a scientific innovation and will give them unique access to the business intelligence, services and experience that will give them the best chance of success.” The Innovation Accelerator offers strategic business and investment planning, market intelligence studies, assistance negotiating the complicated intellectual property landscape, and networking opportunities. “Our approach has been to look at every element that affects small science-based business and then assemble the skills and resources needed to support them through the riskiest phase of their growth – starting up and making their first sales. Another key advantage to the incubator approach is the added opportunity for these businesses to come together and support each other under one roof. THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
“We’ve got a great, highly experienced team working on the programme and thanks to the rich mix of scientific research and innovation going on in the region, we’re looking forward to helping the next generation of entrepreneurs establish themselves in the North East.” The process industry is at the heart of the North East economy and is central to the £60m Tees Valley Industrial Programme (TVIP), which was created to accelerate the area’s transition towards a low carbon and advanced manufacturing economy and in which the Centre for Process Innovation will play a major role. Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of One North East, said: “The Tees Valley process sector continues to put the North East and the UK at the forefront of this industry. “The Innovation Accelerator will be a flagship for the new technologies that are being developed across our region, allowing entrepreneurs in the process industry to base themselves at the centre of the UK’s low carbon economy and significantly boosting the chances of their new business ideas succeeding.” As well as helping businesses develop from its base on Teesside, The Innovation Accelerator is also going on the road to help the brightest entrepreneurs with tech-based business ideas get to grips with the business of creating a company. Throughout the next year the team will hold workshops at locations across the North East on the theme of entrepreneurship and building a high growth business in the process sector. Mike explained: “We’re keen to get out and about around the region and meet the young businessmen and women with a strong business idea up their sleeves.” For more information on the Entrepreneur Programme workshops and to apply for a place at future workshops, visit www.innovation-accelerator.co.uk
Innovation Accelerator workshops: n 1st July at Durham County Cricket Club n 22nd September - Newcastle n 17th November - Wilton
MAJOR BOOST FOR COMPANIES OF THE FUTURE The Wilton Centre has announced a new development designed to help new businesses within the process industries sector, the first of its kind in the UK. Construction has begun on the Wilton Centre Innovation Accelerator Incubator, a 10,000 sq ft facility incorporating specialist laboratories and office space at the centre on Teesside. The development has been designed to meet BREEAM standards to ensure a high level of energy efficiency and the project is forecast to create 100 jobs and safeguard 75 in the region. Housed within the new facility will be ten specialist laboratory/ pilot plant units, with associated equipped communal laboratories and meeting rooms, as well as office space for SMEs working on new business opportunities. The Incubator will also be the base for the Centre for Process Innovation’s (CPI) Innovation Accelerator team of market sector specialists, who will provide support in market intelligence, intellectual property research, investment planning, networking opportunities, business planning and seeking out sources of funding. The area will be ready for use before the end of the year, but the Innovation Accelerator team is already at work supporting process industry SMEs. Members of the Wilton Centre Facilities Management (WCFM) team are providing short-term accommodation until the facility is operational. Sited in a recently-vacated area of the centre’s Technical Development Area (TDA), the development is funded by The Wilton Centre’s owner with a contribution from the European Regional Development Fund via One North East as part of the Innovation Connectors initiative. Chris Mitchell, Associate Director at LaSalle Investment Management, Managing Agent for the property, said:
“The owner of The Wilton Centre welcomes the opportunity to invest in this unique incubator facility and service that will assist new process industry businesses to successfully develop their ideas and products. “The development will add to the varied range of facilities already available here and the incubator residents will also benefit from The Wilton Centre’s comprehensive service package. In the future we look forward to the prospect of successful incubator residents utilising the grow-on space available at The Wilton Centre.” Dr Mike Anderson, who manages the Innovation Accelerator team, said: “Our team has already supported more than 25 process industry SMEs and we are really excited about this first custom built incubator for process industry SMEs in the UK. “New companies developing their products and processes will save a lot of time and money by avoiding set-up costs and being able to focus on their technology development in an environment with a huge amount of specialist support.” The area has now been cleared in readiness for the construction of a mezzanine floor, after which the main contractors will take over the site to complete the complex. A new entrance will be created on the south side of the building giving direct access from the roads and car parks at the rear of the Wilton Centre. Building works are being managed by Dr Richard Short, WCFM’s engineering manager, who said: “We are delighted to be going ahead with this development.” WCFM’s Architectural and Engineering design team, led by TJ Hazell – Engineering Consultants, will be working with Hall Construction Services Limited and Mansell Construction Services Limited to complete the project. www.innovation-accelerator.co.uk.
GLOSS MEASUREMENT SHINES IN THE NORTH A cutting-edge calibration specialist based in Tyneside is setting the standard in the field of calibration - achieving a unique position in the UK by being awarded the only UKAS accreditation for gloss measurements. Gloss is often difficult to describe, let alone measure, and everyone has their own idea of what ‘gloss’ is. It’s an important factor in quantifying the appearance of a product in many industries from plastics to cosmetics - in fact, anywhere the perception of a product is dependent on its reflective properties. Gloss is an optical property related to the reflection of highlights - the ability of a surface to reflect light in a particular direction. Measuring it has to take into account a number of elements: the refractive index of the material, the angle of incident light and the surface topography. Essentially, it involves comparing the amount of reflected light from a sample, to that reflected from a black glass calibration standard with a defined refractive index. Several different angles are used for measurement, with incident angles of 20, 60, and 85 degrees the most common (for high, medium and low gloss surfaces respectively), but other angles are used for specific applications, such as 75 degrees for plastic film, and 45 degrees for vinyl siding. THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
The increasing importance of being able to quantify gloss, when in the past it has been simply subjective, has led to a large number of different instruments being produced to measure gloss, but these are often sold, and calibrated, without traceability. That’s a problem for companies with (sometimes very specific) obligations under standardized quality management systems such as ISO 9001:2008. Accredited calibration of instruments is becoming crucial as new requirements specify that traceability and competent measurements are demonstrated by accreditation to ISO/lEC 17025:2005. Aerospace Metrology & Electromechanical Calibration Ltd (AMECaL) is the company setting the standard for others to follow, building a reputation, and gaining a unique position in the UK, by being awarded the only UKAS accreditation for gloss measurements (and meeting ISO/lEC 17025:2005). Based in Newcastle upon Tyne, AMECaL has spent four years researching and developing a method of calibration relating to optical gloss measurement. The emergence of an accredited laboratory able to calibrate both the instruments and reference standards will ensure that many more of these instruments can, and will, be calibrated against measurement standards traceable to international/national measurement standards.
The company, which has the best facilities in Europe, even manufactures the Reference Standards themselves. Technical Director, Steve Oxborough, who set up the company after a lifelong interest in calibration, has a passion for the area: “Many companies think - or have been told - that accredited calibration for gloss measurement instrumentation simply doesn’t exist. That’s left them unable to meet traceability and competent measurement requirements. Companies can now get the same standards applied throughout the production process, from preparing metalwork, to painting it and measuring the paint thickness and gloss aspect - ensuring ongoing peak performance and compliance to both standardised quality management systems and international standards for all the equipment used.” The seeds of Steve’s passion, which led to UKAS accreditation, were sown back in 2004 when a seemingly idle curiosity about the paintwork on old cars developed into a fascinating area of research for the company. “I noticed that some red cars – and not necessarily very old ones – had faded to a dull pink, when other cars of different ages and colours didn’t have that problem. I just wanted to know why – but the search for an answer led me to yet more areas without answers and the
path was longer than I imagined.” (The answer lies in the sun’s ultraviolet radiation breaking down binding chemicals and pigments in the paintwork, causing the surface to come apart - the effect is more marked on red cars as UV has its strongest effect on red pigmentation). The innovation of new calibration methods in this highly specialised field is not the only cutting edge development to the company’s name; they also cover other complex - and related - areas such as the conductivity of metal structure and paint - and flow-related instruments. Their expertise extends to developing new equipment as well; currently in development is a Gonio photometer – which will have the best accuracies in the world – some 20 times more accurate than the best available today. Ongoing technical developments in unique and very specialist areas like these, alongside an ability to deal with an everincreasing portfolio of products, have put the company at the forefront of calibration know-how. It seems that the obligations of standardised quality management systems aren’t going to be so difficult for companies to meet after all. For more details call 0191 262 2266 or email email@example.com www.amecal.com
INVESTMENT AS CELLS COMPANY GROWS A North East company working on cell culture has received more than £1.6m funding to develop its work further. Capital firm NorthStar Ventures, which is also based in the region, has announced the investment in Biotech start up company Reinnervate Limited, providing £500,000 itself with the rest coming from private investors. Reinnervate, a spin-out biotechnology company, developed from research conducted at Durham University. It develops new ways to manage the growth and function of cultured cells, with its technologies particularly relevant to the control of stem cell differentiation and engineering tissues in in-vitro cell culture. NorthStar had supported the company throughout its growth with investments in 2008 and last year through the CoInvestment Fund. The latest investment of £500,000 through the North East Accelerator Fund will help the company commercialise its first product and scale up production. In addition, the funding will finance the company’s move from Durham University to the NETPark Incubator, County Durham. Ashley Cooper, Chief Executive Officer of Reinnervate Limited, said: “After many years of rigorous scientific research and commercial exemplification of our cell culture technologies, THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
Reinnervate is on the brink of commercial operations, a whole new chapter in the company’s history and a milestone all too rarely achieved by aspiring life science companies. The funding and support from Cels, One North East and NorthStar has been fundamental to our success. “Seed and other early stage funding is almost impossible to secure in the current climate and without the early support that we received in the North East region our innovative cell culture technologies would never have reached the market. “Our impending move into a new commercial facility at NETPark, a move which may create up to 50 local jobs by 2015, has been made possible only by recent further investment by NorthStar and a syndicate of private and management investors.” Alex Buchan, Investment Manager of NorthStar, said: “NorthStar has been a long standing believer in Reinnervate and we invested in the company twice with our Co-Investment Fund in 2008 and 2009. We are delighted to have invested further in Reinnervate and to have led this very successful round of investment which brings Reinnervate £1.6m, which will help them commercialise their product and provide them with the opportunity to take the business to a wider audience. “We very much look forward to continuing working closely with the company.” www.reinnervate.com
BUILDING SUCCESSFUL HIGH GROWTH BUSINESSES Over £80m funds under management North East Proof of Concept Fund North East Accelerator Fund North East Creative Content Fund To access these funds or find out more – please call 0191 229 2770 or visit www.northstarventures.co.uk
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Northstar Ventures is a trading name of NorthStar Equity Limited. NorthStar Equity Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
ENGINEERING COMPANY ON THE MOVE A family-run engineering company has moved to larger premises in Newcastle as part of expansion plans which are creating new jobs.
and are increasing our product range to include highwaystandard vehicle containment systems which will help us to reach out to new, larger markets.”
Earsdon Engineering Ltd specialises in the manufacture and installation of bespoke architectural steelwork, including stainless steel, glass screens, balustrades and street furniture.
The grant is also helping to create nine new jobs to add to its already 25-strong workforce, and contributing towards the cost of purchasing new specialist equipment for the 13,000 sq ft facility, including a plasma cutting machine which speeds up production time.
The firm has been involved in a number of high profile projects in recent years, including supplying Northumbria University’s high level footbridge in Newcastle and creating safety barriers for the Sunderland Aquatic Centre. Due to a rise in customer demand for its bridge parapet crash barriers, Earsdon began to outgrow its production space in Blyth, Northumberland. To help support its growth plans, the firm secured a £54,000 Grant for Business Investment (GBI) from One North East to relocate to larger premises at Benfield Business Park. Director Paul Milsted, said: “It’s an exciting time as we’ve now received a new parapet product and installation certification, THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
Lisa Harwood, of One North East’s Business Finance team, said: “Moving can be a testing time for any business, and this grant has helped to relieve some of the pressures and enable the company to relocate with minimal disruption and introduce new jobs and equipment.” The Grant for Business Investment (GBI) initiative is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2007-13. For further information on the full package of support visit www.businesslink.gov.uk/northeast
FIRST INVESTMENT INTO LOCAL BUSINESS The Finance for Business North East Technology Fund has made its first investment into a Newcastle-based business, has a strong pipeline of other potential investments in the region and is still on the look-out for more dealflow, particularly from mature businesses. “We’re delighted to have made our first investment,” said Magnus Goodlad, Chief Operating Officer of IP Group plc, the manager of the North East Technology Fund. “The Fund has a strong pipeline of further exciting technology businesses based in the region and we look forward to announcing the completion of further investments over the coming months.” The North East Technology Fund has invested £750,000 into Newcastle-based Nomad Digital, a leading provider of on-board IP connectivity solutions to the rail industry. The investment, which was provided by way of venture debt, forms part of a £1.25m financing for Nomad Digital with the balance of £500,000 being committed by Northstar Ventures from the Finance for Business North East Accelerator Fund. Nomad Digital, which was established in 2002, is a privately owned company delivering high speed, end-to-end wireless network solutions for transportation fleets. The Company is now the largest provider of on-board IP connectivity to the rail industry and its networks and solutions are deployed in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia. APPETITE FOR PROPOSALS FROM MORE MATURE BUSINESSES The North East Technology Fund team (pictured) has had an excellent response since the Fund launched in January and has seen over 130 business proposals to date. The vast majority of these, however, have come from early stage businesses. Duncan Lowery, the Fund’s senior investment manager, is hoping more established, mature business will also come forward. “While we welcome proposals from companies at all stages of the business cycle, we are particularly keen to hear from those at the more mature end which have been underrepresented in what we’ve seen so far. Our aim is to build a balanced portfolio to generate the required level of returns to
the legacy fund thereby ensuring sustainable investment funds are created for North East businesses in the future.” Of the 130 business plans that the North East Technology Fund team has considered to date, the Fund is taking forward around “half a dozen” and hopes to be able to announce its second and third investments in the coming months. INVESTMENT CRITERIA The North East Technology Fund is a £25m venture capital fund dedicated to investing in technology businesses with outstanding potential which are based in, or are willing to relocate to, the North East of England. It is managed by Top Technology Ventures, the FSA regulated subsidiary of IP Group plc, and is backed by the European Investment Bank, One North East and European Regional Development Funds. The Fund can make initial investments in the £50,000 to £1.25m range, subject to certain criteria being met, and follow-on finance is also available. The Fund is also able to co-invest with other institutional, private or corporate investors at all stages of business development, mature as well as early-stage, and will consider all types of technology. Mr Lowery notes that the key characteristics of the successful proposals that are currently being taken forward are strong management teams, scalable business models and proprietary technology in markets that are large with growth potential. To qualify for investment, the full list of criteria (which is available on the Fund’s website) must be met. Companies must, for example, employ less than 250 people, have a turnover of less than €50m and cannot be in certain sectors such as retail, coal, shipbuilding and steel. To contact the Fund, view the full list of investment criteria or submit a business plan, please visit the Fund’s website at www.thenortheasttechnologyfund.com
Ken Taylor from Mobliq with David Dunn from SSC
SECURING SUCCESS WITH SOFTWARE CITY SUPPORT In previous issues of NETWorks we’ve taken a look at Sunderland Software City’s vision of inspiring and assisting North East software businesses of all sizes to reach their full potential and to make our region the location of choice for the global software industry. The initiative’s work is really starting to have an impact on the ground, and one local company is celebrating securing a role in a £100m project thanks in part to the help it received from Software City. Blaydon-based Mobliq – which develops systems which automate paperwork and streamline business processes – has been awarded the contract to manage the applications for the £125m Finance for Business North-East super fund, known as Jeremie. The business approached Sunderland Software City (SSC) for advice on putting together its tender application for the contract and received its help developing a bid. “Sunderland Software City was able to provide really helpful advice and support to develop the successful bid,” said Mobliq’s Ken Taylor. “The Jeremie database contract is a real coup for Mobliq and is a fantastic platform to showcase our capabilities.” Mobliq’s self-named workflow management system allows the collection of information in an electronic format which can be managed via hand-held PDA devices, originally supplying IT networks and business software solutions and experiencing demand for a system that linked back and front office systems in an electronic format. The company has come a long way since receiving financial support to develop the system from the NorthStar Equity Investors’ Proof of Concept fund 18 months ago. It now employs seven staff and plans to roll out the product across the UK and overseas. “The Mobliq system allows information to be shared instantly, and has evolved into a user-friendly product with universal appeal, which can be customised to meet individual feature requests,” added Ken Taylor. THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
“We will continue to tap into the support available through Sunderland Software City as we develop into new markets.” David Dunn, chief operating officer at SSC, said: “Sunderland Software City offers a wide range of support to help our region’s software businesses like Mobliq flourish and grow and we’re delighted to have played a part in helping them secure this prestigious contract. “This is a perfect example of one of the core elements of our work – a fantastic local software company develops an innovative and world class product but just needs a bit of support to take that product to the widest possible audience. It is fantastic to be able to support a dynamic business like Mobliq, which has developed a unique application to improve business processes and efficiency. I look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure they continue to maximise their potential and to exploit the opportunities that exists here in the North East and further afield.” The Sunderland Software City initiative is benefiting from over £6.5m of European Union investment from the ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-13, secured through regional development agency One North East. The ERDF programme is bringing over £300m into the North East to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region. The initiative is a strategic partnership, between Codeworks Connect, North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC), Sunderland City Council, the University of Sunderland and One North East which aims to drive productivity and innovation within businesses and commercialisation of research and development activity within the universities and businesses. More information is available at www.sunderlandsoftwarecity. com and on 0191 516 6092 and info@sunderlandsoftwarecity. com. The initiative can also be found on Twitter @sunsoftcity and on Facebook. More information on Mobliq is available at www.mobliq.co.uk
Left to right: Monish Suri, General Partner, Prime Technolgy Ventures, Darren Jobling, CEO, Eutechnyx, Brian Jobling, CEO, Eutechnyx.
NE COMPANY AHEAD OF THE GAME WITH £6M INVESTMENT North East company Eutechnyx, one of the world’s leading independent videogame developers, has secured a £6 million investment to further its work. The money has come from Amsterdam-based venture capital outfit Prime Technology Ventures, which specialises in investing in innovative technology-driven companies. Gateshead company Eutechnynx says the money will help finalise the development of a groundbreaking new title which will revolutionise the racing games genre. The investment will also help Eutechnyx to develop its forthcoming free-to-play infrastructure as the firm expands into the world of casual online games. Monish Suri, General Partner at Prime Technology Ventures, said: “When we saw what Eutechnyx was working on, we knew we had to be involved, particularly given Eutechnyx’s track record, design heritage and jaw-dropping technology. “We only invest in the best, so we’re incredibly excited to be able to play, Brian Jobling, CEO of Eutechnyx, said: “We’re thrilled to have
secured this investment headed up by Europe’s most successful technology VC. “As an independent developer, this infusion will help us to continue to forge our own destiny within a rapidly changing games industry. “Not only does the investment enable us to continue to innovate, we can continue to do so on our own terms.” Eutechnyx is one of the largest independent developers in the world, with studios on three continents. The company was founded in 1987 headed up by brothers Brian and Darren Jobling. Such has been its growth that the company now employ more than 160 people and its games consistently rank among the most popular in the world. The company believes that 2010 will prove to be a major year in its development with the firm planning further announcements on new titles. http://press.eutechnyx.com
First NETPark tenant expands into new facility
NETPark, one of the UK’s fastest growing science parks, has seen its first tenant expand so rapidly that it has outgrown its current premises and are to move to new headquarters on the site. Based near Sedgefield, NETPark has been home to technology firm Kromek since 2005 and the company and is moving from the Incubator to the new facilities. Kromek, which produces cutting-edge imaging technology for the security, medical and industrial sectors, was the first occupant of the Incubator facility which was created to help fledgling science and technology companies expand and develop.
The company has grown at such a pace that it is moving into one of three buildings being developed at a cost of £10m to house the global headquarters of science and technology companies. The move has been helped by a £200,000 Grant for Business Investment from One North East, which will help create many new high-quality jobs over the next two years. The new buildings continue NETPark’s development as an international hub for the commercialisation of groundbreaking science and technology.
Stewart Watkins, managing director of County Durham Development Company (CDDC) which runs NETPark on behalf of Durham County Council said: “NETPark has proved its ability to nurture young science and technology companies and help them achieve rapid growth and success. “It has been exciting and enormously gratifying to watch companies like Kromek develop and flourish on NETPark and I am delighted that the first tenant of our impressive new premises will be a company that has grown up at NETPark. “As a company that was a spin out from Durham University, Kromek is a County Durham success story through and through. Its rapid expansion is proof of the expertise that lies within our regional universities as well as the capability of NETPark to serve as a breeding ground for the development of this knowledge into commercially viable products.” Kromek currently employs 42 people, set to increase substantially over the next two years. Dr Arnab Basu, chief executive officer of Kromek, said: “Kromek started as a two person operation and has grown with NETPark. We had a great start at the NETPark Incubator, supported by CDDC, developing our R&D into novel technologies and launching new products into the marketplace. We are now moving into a successful commercial phase, we have a positive future and have maintained our close relationship with NETPark and CDDC. There have been great benefits to being at NETPark as they supported us to grow and gave us the flexibility to grow when we needed it. I’m extremely proud to move into our new corporate headquarters at NETPark.” The development was funded as part of Solutions for Business, the Government’s package of publicly funded business support designed to help companies start and grow.
Councillor Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said: “Kromek’s growth at NETPark is proof both of the strength of Kromek as well as the potential of NETPark as a location for burgeoning science and technology companies to flourish.” Kromek was offered a £250,000 R&D grant from One North East in 2008 to allow the company to develop a prototype advanced X-ray screening system. It was the 100th company in the North East to receive a research and development grant from One North East. Alan Clarke, One North East chief executive, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to assist Kromek’s move to larger premises. It’s great to see that the company’s expansion plans coming to fruition. It is also an encouraging sign that the new buildings at NETPark are already proving instrumental in retaining high growth businesses in the North East “ERDF investment is helping cement NETPark’s reputation as an international hub and an innovation connector for the region. It’s imperative that we continue to provide outstanding facilities for companies that have outgrown incubator space at the site.” The ERDF 2007-13 programme is bringing more than £300m into North East England to support innovation, enterprise and business support. It will help create and safeguard 28,000 new jobs, start 3,000 new businesses and increase the region’s productivity by £1.1bn per annum. www.kromek.com
LIFE SCIENCES in association with newcastle bioSCIENCE
Innovative Thinking for Successful Global Networking Business development in healthcare increasingly relies on making use of available communication technologies to alert businesses to opportunities for partnering their products and services with others. In many cases this is not only desirable but necessary to enable new products to reach their market. In the case of healthcare where the marketplace is global, a fast efficient information transfer and dissemination mechanism is critical for maintaining success in today’s business world. Cels Group, through its healthcare network HealthConnect, has been working closely with the Nanjing based healthcare network NCRO (Nanjing Pharmaceutical Contract Research Organisation) to develop ways to make international business development between the UK and China more efficient. Cels HealthConnect is a network for professionals and organisations working in the healthcare and life sciences sector. The network provides a range of premier support activities and services which are all designed to drive best practice and help our member organisations grow and succeed. HealthConnect members are active in assistive technology, health informatics, medical devices, biotechnology and life sciences. The network also brings individuals and organisations together to stimulate translational research, innovation and collaboration as well as commercial opportunities. NCRO’s goal is to integrate pharmaceutical R&D resources in Nanjing so that they can attract international trade, improve pharmaceutical CRO management and promote pharmaceutical CRO industrialisation. The two organisations have been working closely together since signing a Memorandum of Understanding in Nanjing in September 2009 to create a Sino Life Science Innovation Centre for closer co-operation and improved ways of doing business with each other.
The first joint project of the two networks is the development of a secure dual language virtual centre for promoting and managing business opportunities from both UK and Chinese companies. The “marketplace” will be available to member companies of both networks later this year and will feature job vacancies, partner searches and collaborative working projects. Using their specialised knowledge of the sectors in the UK and China, HealthConnect and NCRO will broker business introductions between interested parties to ensure the best match for long term working relationships. The “marketplace” once operational has the potential to be expanded to include commercial services provided by national universities and new projects from research organisations. Kenny Lang, Chief Innovation Officer of Cels Group commented, “It is essential for organisations such as Cels to develop relationships between the international academic and business communities to improve the existing infrastructure and provide an attractive proposition for investment. The “marketplace” is the perfect platform for companies in China to enter the UK market via the north east.” The virtual centre relies on a three stage process for international business development. The first stage focuses on information exchange to build relationships and clarify business needs and objectives leading to the second, the arrangement of visits by each company at their respective premises. To assist in developing this further, each network can offer businesses introductions to key government organisations, business parks and healthcare clusters to facilitate setting up regional offices. Last month saw Cels Group and NCRO mark the creation of the Sino Life Science Innovation Centre at a ceremony in Nanjing. www.celsgroup.com
photography by Ikuko Tsuchiya
The opportunities of an ageing population Newcastle Biomedicine For the past 200 years, life expectancy in the developed world has been increasing at the incredible rate of 5 hours per day. This 29 hour day, 24 for now and 5 for later, represents a great triumph for science and medicine. Few changes in the world today have greater significance, and the medical, scientific and societal challenges of population ageing are immense. Meeting this challenge – and helping our partners meet it - is one of the key focuses of Newcastle Biomedicine. Throughout the 175 year history of the Medical School, we have been intrinsically linked to the social and cultural development of Newcastle as a city, and the North-East region as a whole, and are focused on providing strong basic science for translation into direct benefits for patients in our partner NHS Trusts. The Faculty of Medical Sciences is now home to globally recognised research focussed on four of the world’s biggest health challenges – ageing, age-related chronic diseases (including dental disease), neurological diseases and cancer underpinned by strong basic research in genetics, mitochondrial biology and bacterial and stem cell biology. We work with all NHS Trusts in the North-East and particularly with the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the three major hospitals in the city (the RVI, Freeman and General), consistently ranked at the top of healthcare tables. Newcastle Biomedicine has strong strategic relationships with the medical, pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. Partnerships with companies ranging from North-East based SMEs to major multinationals are developed through close partnership-based working. In the past four years, we have developed an incubator suite for small bio-technology companies and university spin-out companies. We have a long record of creating successful spin-out companies, with successful examples spanning the last three decades helping to grow the regional bio-technology and life sciences economy.
We are constantly planning our next steps to meet the challenges of the future. Opportunities for an ageing population are being addressed by Europe’s biggest Institute for Ageing and Health, based at the Campus for Ageing and Vitality on the General Hospital site. The Institute, founded in 1994, has established a unique, multidisciplinary environment for engagement between research, training, public, private and volunteer sectors. The Institute is a major source of knowledge and innovation with potential for translation into products or services. Its research spans: n How and why we age n Clinical aspects of ageing, particularly brain ageing n Technology to support healthy ageing and those damaged by ageing n The impact of nutrition and exercise on life long vitality n Social aspects of ageing The Institute leads the Newcastle Science City Ageing and Health theme and is committed to seeing genuine benefit, both social and economic emerge from our world class research. We work with businesses and other organisations to support the development of knowledge and innovation to underpin new products and services suited to a society with a much greater average age. Innovative products and services are urgently needed to ensure as high a quality of life as possible, throughout the life course. This tremendous opportunity for business is as yet under recognised and your business could benefit! We are supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for projects with small and medium sized businesses based in the North East and as an accredited supplier to Business and Enterprise North East (BENE) are able to work with you to access a range of business support funding for innovation and research. For discussion about how we might work together in ageing or in any other of our research areas, contact our Business Development Manager, Martin Cox, on 0191 222 7309 or firstname.lastname@example.org
PATENTS - GETTING THE STRATEGY RIGHT Ask the average business owner what he thinks about patents and he is likely to say that they take an age to be granted, are costly, and when it comes to enforcement that’s when the expenses really kick in. So, why bother? Well, because a patent is a monopoly right, and to many people that is something worth having. For a company seeking investment, a lack of patent rights may be a deal breaker. By following the appropriate strategy one can make the patent system work better. It is a question of establishing priorities and then looking at how the various patent systems around the world can be used to bring faster grant, lower cost or a smaller risk of invalidation for example. Take a company actively involved marketing a patentable product in the United Kingdom, Europe and the USA. There are a number of ways that patents could be obtained to cover those countries. European and United States patent applications could be filed. However, the European Patent Office is not particularly quick when it comes to granting patents. Also, once a European patent has been granted, there is a very convenient procedure known as Opposition where competitors can, at very little cost, seek to have the European patent invalidated. The company would also have to go through the normal examination channels at the US Patent and Trade Mark Office (USPTO), which over recent years has not been an easy path to tread successfully.
attorney or counsel, but when two parties are in a dispute such opinions were always seen as a biased in favour of the party paying the fee. Of course, it has always been possible for two parties to agree jointly on a particular patent attorney or counsel to give an opinion, but that would require agreement between two parties in dispute. An Opinion from the UKIPO can be requested by a single party. The other party is then brought into the procedure by the UKIPO. Obtaining patents and using them effectively will always take time, effort and financial resources. However, by adopting strategies appropriate for your business it is possible to use the system to your advantage. Whilst the UKIPO’s Opinions service is still relatively new, it is being used by some high profile companies, which indicates they see a value in it. It is not correct to compare an Opinion from the UKIPO with a court judgement. However, an Opinion can be very useful in deciding whether to go down the court route or resolve the problem a different way.
Alternatively, the company could pursue a United Kingdom patent, which can often be granted relatively speedily. The granted United Kingdom patent could be then used in the USPTO’s “Patent Prosecution Highway”, which allows the Examiner at the USPTO to use the granted UK patent as a basis for granting a US application. This speeds up the patent process in the US, and experience shows that the chance obtaining grant in the US is greater and that costs can be reduced. At the same time, the company may pursue a European patent and with the UK and US in the bag, may be content to allow the European Patent Office to grant a patent in its own time. Alternatively, the company’s interests in Europe may actually be limited to two or three key markets, in which case it may be better off just filing patent applications in those countries directly and avoiding the European Patent Office altogether. What about once the patent has been granted? In the UK there is an option that does not involve court action. This is the UK Intellectual Property Office’s (UKIPO) Opinion service. The attraction of an Opinion from the UKIPO is that it is independent. It has always been possible to obtain an opinion from a patent T H E S C I E N C E E N G I N E E R I N G & T E C H N O LO G Y M A G A Z I N E F O R N O R T H E A S T E N G L A N D
THE POSITIVE CHOICE Founded in 2002, Hart Biologicals Ltd. is based in Hartlepool in North-East England. The company recently relocated to a purpose-built manufacturing facility on the Queens Meadow estate in the town.The Hartlepool facility is engaged in the research, development manufacture and marketing of a range of in vitro diagnostic products for use in the detection, prevention and monitoring of a number of medical conditions related to haemostasis and platelet function. Hart Biological’s products are based upon whole blood or blood plasma clotting technology or whole blood and platelet rich plasma platelet aggregation and platelet function test principles, technologies available in almost all pathology laboratories world-wide. The company’s products have the potential to save the National Health Service significant amounts of money – the Manchester Capillary Reagent enables hospitals and community clinics to undertake oral anticoagulant monitoring (INR testing for warfarin drugs) at a fraction of the cost of other test systems. This is an important consideration for a patient group that is growing significantly year on year. Hart Biological’s expertise, strong quality system, solid infrastructure, expert and dedicated staff and state of the art manufacturing facilities have attracted partners ranging from small start up companies and universities to large multinational corporations. As a small company, Hart Biologicals can respond quickly to the needs of our partners
and dedicate the best minds to their projects. Hart Biologicals provides contract services including Product Development, Regulatory Submission, Manufacturing, Customer Service, Sales, Marketing and Global Product Distribution. Recent investment in state-of-the art freeze drying and automated liquid filling facilities ensure Hart Biologicals stays at the forefront of industry requirements. Last year, 2009, was Hart Biological’s most successful year to date, increasing turnover by 66% and doubling exports. This success was also reflected in staffing, with the number of staff increasing from 6 to 11 during the year. The ongoing success of Hart Biologicals has been recognised both locally and nationally with a series of business awards. The company recently won the Export Business of the Year and Manufacturing Business of the Year awards at the annual Hartlepool Business Awards ceremony Hart Biologicals is committed, through the company’s vision and capabilities, to providing innovative and quality medical products to meet the needs of the ever changing healthcare field in a highly regulated industry environment. Hart Biologicals Ltd 2 Rivergreen Business Centre Queens Meadow Hartlepool TS25 2DL Tel: +44-(0)1429 271100 www.hartbio.com
NEW HOPE FOR PARTIALLYSIGHTED PATIENTS New hope is being offered to thousands of people who are partially-sighted following a stroke or brain injury thanks to work carried out in the North East.
They found that the patients became faster and more accurate at detecting objects, such as coloured dots or numbers, on a computer screen.
Research into a computer-based training programme developed and assessed by Durham University shows that it can help partially-sighted people to ‘see’ better.
The researchers believe the test helped patients to compensate for their lost vision by exploring their ‘blind field’ more, which is the part of the visual field affected by the brain damage.
The study, published in the academic journal, Brain, tested the technique on patients who suffer from a condition called hemianopia, which affects more than 4,000 people in the UK each year.
Further research is needed to pinpoint exactly why the technique helps patients but the scientists believe it is probably due to improved attention, concentration and awareness of their visual problems.
Sufferers lose half of their visual field due to stroke or other brain injury and are heavily dependent on others because they struggle with balance, walking, finding things around the house, and they are not normally able to drive.
The study findings offer hope that people who receive regular training like this could live more independently.
The research, funded by the Medical Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, and supported by the charity Action for Blind People, tested patients’ visual ability before and after the training,
THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
Lead researcher, Dr Alison Lane, from Durham University’s Psychology Department, said: “This research shows us that basic training works in getting people to use their ‘poor’ visual side better. “Although we are not yet sure why this happens, we think it might be because training increases their attention,
concentration and awareness of their ‘blind’ field.
Nichola Burlison from Low Willington, County Durham
“We think attention is key in improving people’s abilities to use their limited vision. This simple technique is a very viable rehabilitation option and in future could be easily accessible at low cost to everyone who needs it.”
Nichola Burlison, 31, who is married with two young children, has hemianopia having suffered severe brain damage after a car accident eight years ago.
Professor David Mendelow, a neurosurgeon at Newcastle General Hospital and professor of neurosurgery at Newcastle University, said: “Hemianopia is often not recognised and is probably much more common than realised. Patients and their families find it very difficult to understand this problem of ‘half blindness’. “At Newcastle General, we have trained our occupational therapists to recognise this visual problem and we can now identify patients with hemianopia at an early stage. “The Neurosciences Unit at Durham University, where we refer patients on to, is to be congratulated on demonstrating how successful this kind of visual retraining can be.”
She spent six months in hospital and had to re-learn all basic skills such as walking, talking, dressing and eating. After contact with Action for Blind People, Nichola took part in Durham’s research. She said: “The training has made a big difference to me. Although I still struggle with basic things like crossing the road, reading, cooking, I feel so much more confident. I am more comfortable with reading and I don’t miss words at the start of sentences anymore. I also move my eyes around, both to the left and right, because I am more aware that I can do that. “I was really surprised that I could do more than I thought after the training. It gave me a big boost and I would love for other people in my position to become aware of this as it may help them, too.” www.dur.ac.uk
AWARD FOR INTRAHEALTH Peterlee company IntraHealth Limited was awarded the Growth in Sector honour at the Medilink UK Awards 2010.
community pharmacy, medicines management and the delivery of national screening and prevention programmes.
The award follows the company’s success in the Outstanding Growth category at the Cels Business for Life awards in November 2009.
The company’s anticoagulation monitoring service has been operating for over 15 years and is one of the largest in the UK.
IntraHealth provides clinical services to several NHS bodies, including Primary Care Trusts, and is one of the largest providers of primary medical services in the country. In just two years the company’s workforce has more than doubled to 300 people, and it enjoyed a turnover of £7m last year with continued projected growth for 2010. In addition to its own national network of GP practices, the company works with several NHS Primary Care Trusts and more than 90 independent GP practices serving 750,000 people in the UK. IntraHealth provides a range of specialist clinical services such as long term conditions management, substance misuse, THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
Speaking of the award, IntraHealth Director Glenn Carroll said: “This is a fantastic achievement. A national award like this following so closely behind the Cels Business for Life Award is a huge morale boost. To be recognised in this way makes everyone involved in the business very proud.” * MedilinkUK is a network of regionally-based organisations working to grow the economic impact of UK Life Sciences. Services range from advice on funding, patents and medicalgrade materials to support reaching overseas markets, selling to the NHS and understanding regulations. The Medilink awards were held at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall in York.
Ashley Cooper, Chief Executive of Reinnervate
NETPARK WELCOMES A NEW TALENT One of the fastest-growing science parks in the UK has welcomed a new tenant this summer, one which plans to make strides in the field of stem cell research.
team to attract early-stage companies like us. In the long term it’s good for both sides, as we intend to stay at NETPark as we develop into a larger business.”
The North East Technology Park (NETPark) at Sedgefield in County Durham is now host to bioscience firm reinnervate.
Reinnervate’s plans involve speedy growth over the next five years, helped by the conditions at NETPark and a recent funding boost. The company was recently awarded £1.6m from private investors to help it develop technology allowing cells to be cultivated in a laboratory in a very similar way to how they grow in the human body.
The NETPark Incubator provides small and start-up technology companies with the support necessary to create financially stable, high-growth enterprises. Reinnervate, specialises in developing technologies to facilitate cell culture and thus cell-based research, particularly in the field of stem cell biology. The company is a spinout from Durham University, and aims to fulfil the needs of cell biologists involved in academic and commercial research and product development. The firm will shortly be moving to a permanent facility in Phase 2 of the NETPark Incubator. The new home will be a bespoke office and laboratory combination, where ReInnervate will be able to continue their product research and development. Ashley Cooper, Chief Executive of Reinnervate, said: “There aren’t so many places for small scientific companies in the North East. The setup at NETPark is perfect, as the landlord, County Durham Council, wants to help encourage young science and technology companies in the region. “The terms we were offered for the offices at NETPark were very favourable, which is a testament to the drive of the NETPark
Ashley Cooper said: “NETPark has been instrumental to our recent funding success. We were able to demonstrate that we had a location lined up, created to our specifications, and ready to go. “We’ve currently got three people employed at our NETPark base. We hope to grow this to 15 by the end of the year, and if all goes to plan that number will reach 50 by 2014 – all at NETPark.” Catherine Johns, director of innovation at NETPark, said: “reinnervate’s recent funding success shows how effective a base at NETPark can be, even beyond the daily benefits of the facilities available. We look forward to helping reinnervate grow and develop over the next few years.” www.reinnervate.com
DURHAM UNIVERSITY A HEALTHY OUTLOOK DURHAM UNIVERSITY is committed to utilising its research and education expertise in areas of health, medicine and life sciences to benefit society. We do this through research development with health and wellbeing partners like the NHS, through first-class education of the brightest scholars to drive skills in core areas, and through direct engagement with communities regionally, nationally and internationally. From studying sleeping babies in the Sleep Lab of our Wolfson Research Institute at Stockton-on-Tees, to research into malaria prevention in Africa, Durham University is at the forefront of UK thinking in health and wellbeing, as recognised with a recent top 5 finish in a prestigious national Health and Medicine university league table.
Medicine at Durham University Undergraduate medical education is delivered in the North East through a partnership between Newcastle and Durham Universities, together with a region-wide NHS infrastructure of acute hospitals, general practices and public health units, serving a large patient population of 3.5 million. Much of the learning process at Durham University is designed to be “case-led”, working directly with patients to reflect the range of presentations and conditions professionals will encounter in their future career. Each strand is delivered by an interdisciplinary teaching team, made up of academic, clinical and other professional staff drawn from the health, education and social welfare fields.
Research Centres and Groups Research within the School of Medicine and Health is part of the Wolfson Research Institute which focuses on medicine, health and the wellbeing of people and places with particular emphasis upon these in the north east of England. Research is organised around five broad themes, each of which involves contributions from Research Centres and groups within the School. These themes are: n Clinical and Health Services n The Life Sciences and The Life Cycle n Medical Humanities n Public Policy, Health and Well-being n Medical Education The School has extensive collaborative links with colleagues in the NHS, and as well as links with other groups in the UK and internationally. The Wolfson Research Institute is a major interdisciplinary unit within Durham University that fosters research on human health and wellbeing in both developed and developing countries. We seek to understand the determinants of health and wellbeing, and to improve health and the quality of people’s lives by contributing to public policy, professional practice and the development of new products and tools. This is a truly multidisciplinary enterprise, spanning research groups in anthropology, biological and biomedical sciences, education, geography, medicine, philosophy, psychology, social and community work, sociology and sport.
The Institute has its main building on the University’s Queen’s Campus at Stockton-on-Tees. This impressive riverside campus is part of the transformation of an old industrial area into a world class location for business, education and research. It continues to contribute to the economic and social regeneration of the Tees Valley, and the Institute plays an important role in this respect through partnerships with the National Health Service, local government and community organisations.
Research in practice…. Computer technique could help partially-sighted ‘see’ better People who are partially-sighted following stroke or brain injury could gain greater independence from simple training which could eventually be delivered via mobile phones. Durham University research has found that a computer-based technique improved partially-sighted people’s ability to see better and may eventually improve and broaden the portfolio of rehabilitation techniques for partially-sighted patients. (See pages 32 & 33 for more on this research].
Babies to help reveal more about autism Researchers at Durham University’s Queen’s Campus in Stockton are working with babies in some ground-breaking research to understand how babies’ brains work. It is hoped the research will give clues about how autism develops in babies. The tests, which are non-invasive, harmless and painless to the babies, tell the scientists how babies see the world, how their brains process the things they see, and what this means to brain development.
At your service… Universities have long been centres for innovation and business partnership. An important component of research at Durham University is long-term collaboration with world-class companies, wherever they are based.
For all general business relations enquiries please contact Durham University’s Business Relations Manager, on (0191) 3344649.
Research shows flexible work is good for your health Durham research has shown that flexible work schedules have a positive effect on workers’ health. There is evidence to suggest that flexible working might be beneficial for employees’ health if they are allowed to have input into their own working patterns. The study may throw some light on potential health benefits associated with current trends towards more flexible working in the UK and Europe.
Durham University. Making Your Business Our Business
SPICE UP YOUR EXPORTS The UK has strong ties with India and as it is one of the world’s fastest expanding economies there are plenty of opportunities for North East companies to do business in this market. NEPIC (North East Process Industry Cluster) has worked closely with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to organise overseas market visits for its member companies for several years and earlier this year led a successful visit to India. Phil Hollowood, NEPIC consultant, and Richard Tweddle, NEPIC’s International Marketing Manager, travelled with four member companies – Greenstar WES, Fine Organics, Dow Halterman and Exwold Technology – as they flew with Emirates Airlines, also a member of NEPIC, to Mumbai where they took part in Chemspec India 2010, a major chemical exhibition that attracted more than 7,000 visitors. Sharing a stand in the UK Pavilion at the exhibition gave the visiting companies the opportunity to talk to a large number of potential customers, distributors and buyers in one place in a short period of time and was a cost effective method of meeting new suppliers and customers. Phil said: “Several of the visiting companies met new contacts during the exhibition leading to new business deals and opening the potential for many more in the future. And two companies reported sales and purchases which more than covered the total cost of the trip and laid the foundation for future, profitable business. During the visit delegates were also invited to a special dinner reception arranged in their honour by the Indian Chemical Council and attended by many senior representatives of the Indian chemical industry. THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
The following week began with a visit to the VAPI region of Gujarat, where more than 30 Indian companies were given the chance to present their company and products to the visiting companies from the UK during a seminar held in the VAPI Centre of Excellence, a modern facility with state of the art analytical equipment. The local organisers then took the visiting party on a series of company visits showcasing the VAPI region and the potential for trade partners. Individual visits were also arranged for the UK companies reflecting their particular areas of interest which led to more new contacts and the potential for new business being created. Phil added: “From a business point of view, in one week numerous new business contacts were made; products were both bought and sold and the factories of many of the new contacts were visited to give reassurance of the credentials of the India companies. None of this can be achieved without visiting the market personally.“ The consensus of the attendees agreed that taking part in a group visit provided several key benefits: n Support and advice in arranging travel, visas and hotel
accommodation. n Access to high level local support in the market through the
UKTI Commission. n Introductions to the key potential suppliers and customers in
each of the company’s particular sector. n Advice on local customs from experienced fellow travellers
in the market such as what to eat, what to avoid, when and what to tip.
David Coppock, UKTI North East International Trade Director
n Friendship and support of fellow delegates when a volcano
threatened to destroy all arrangements. The key benefit in attending a market visit was ably summarised by John Edwards of Dow Halterman, who said: “Nothing compares with visiting a market and meeting potential suppliers and customers face to face. The assistance of organisations such as NEPIC and UKTI in identifying reputable companies with whom we could trade and then accessing the key contacts within those companies was invaluable. “When I heard that the Icelandic volcano was disrupting all travel back to the UK the fact that I was not alone and had the help and friendship of fellow travellers was a huge comfort to me. “I strongly recommend that any company wishing to access new markets consider attending such missions and utilise the support infrastructure that is available. It is so much easier than doing it on your own.” Keith Stockdale, UKTI’s Chemical, Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences International Trade Adviser for the North East, has been working hard to increase his focused approach within the sector. Working alongside the industry, CPI, CELS and, of course, NEPIC, Keith has brought together a strategic plan of support for key exhibitions across the world and a number of organised market visits to important countries and events.
Keith said: “SMEs are often reluctant to visit new export markets. This may be a fear of the unknown, a lack of knowledge of the business opportunities in the market and an uncertainty as to who are the buyers or sellers and who the competition in the market is. “We’re working hard to help companies overcome these fears and work closely with our partners such as NEPIC to offer the support they need to succeed. “The positive feedback we’ve had from those who took part in the recent market visit to India emphasises just how useful they can be and the benefits of travelling as a group, with all the support UKTI can offer both before, during and after the visit.” International trade support services in the North East are financed in part by the European Union’s ERDF Competitiveness programme 2007-13, securing £5,999,216 of ERDF investment through regional development agency One North East. The ERDF Competitiveness programme 2007-13 is investing over £250m in North East England to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region. For more information about the wide range of support services available through UK Trade & Investment to help your company succeed overseas call the North East International Trade Hotline on 0845 05 05 054 or email: email@example.com.
These major activities are supported with individual company action plans designed to increase overseas sales, working together with UKTI to provide a way into new markets and supported by funding for eligible companies.
SCIENCE NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD CORAL KILLERS
REWRITING THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Research in America has shown that shown that several common species of seaweeds in the Pacific and the Caribbean can kill corals.
It’s been described as one of the most important scientific breakthroughs ever.
The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Teasely Endowments at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Mark Hay, a professor in the School of Biology at Georgia Tech, said: “Between 40 and 70 per cent of the seaweeds we studied killed corals. We don’t know how significant this is compared to other problems affecting coral, but we know this is a growing problem. For reefs that have been battered by human use or overfishing, the presence of seaweeds may prevent natural recovery from happening at all.” Coral reefs are declining worldwide, and scientists studying the problem had suspected that proliferation of seaweed was part of the cause -- perhaps by crowding out the coral or by damaging it physically. Prof Hay said: “The evolutionary reasons why the seaweeds have these compounds are not known. It may be that these compounds protect the seaweeds against microbial infection, or that they help compete with other seaweeds. But it’s clear now that they also harm the corals, either by killing them or suppressing their growth.”
Scientists have created the world’s first synthetic life form in a experiment that paves the way for designer organisms that are built rather than evolved. The breakthrough, which has taken 20 scientists more than 10 years at an estimated cost of $40m, was led by US geneticist Craig Venter. He said that the achievement heralds the dawn of a new era in which new life is made to benefit humanity, including bacteria that produce biofuels, soaks up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and help with the manufacture of vaccines. However critics, including some religious groups, have accused him of playing God and argue that not enough is known about the impact should the artificial organisms escape ‘into the wild’. They also fear that they may cause environmental disasters or even be used in biological weapons. The new organism is based on an existing bacterium that causes mastitis in goats, but at its core is a synthetic genome that was constructed from chemicals in the laboratory. The single-celled organism has four “watermarks” written into its DNA to identify it as synthetic. Dr Venter said: “It’s a living species now, part of our planet’s inventory of life. It has certainly changed my views of definitions of life and how life works.” He first became a controversial figure in the 1990s for his work in mapping the human genome, amid fears that his company might claim intellectual rights to the ‘building blocks of life’.
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ON A WHIM AND A PRAYER
RESEARCH THROWS LIGHT ON SLOWING DECLINE IN OLD AGE
Astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton have detected a vast reservoir of intergalactic gas about 400 million light years from Earth.
Search conducted in America has suggested that anti-ageing supplements should be taken before very old age sets in.
This discovery is the strongest evidence yet that the “missing matter” in the nearby Universe is located in an enormous web of hot, diffuse gas, known as Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium (WHIM) This missing matter -- which is different from dark matter -- is composed of baryons, the particles, such as protons and electrons, that are found on the Earth, in stars, gas and galaxies. Taotao Fang, of the University of California at Irvine and lead author of the latest study, said: “Evidence for the WHIM is really difficult to find because this stuff is so diffuse and easy to see right through. Evidence for the WHIM has even been much harder to find than evidence for dark matter, which is invisible and can only be detected indirectly.” The team is now confident that the WHIM will also be found in other large-scale structures. Co-author David Buote, also from the University of California at Irvine, said: “This gives us a lot of confidence that we have truly found this missing matter.”
The work by the University of Florida’s Institute of Ageing suggests that supplements, made up of mixtures rather than single compounds, may be more effective in slowing down physical decline, but only if taken before the person becomes too old. Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Ph.D., senior author of the paper and chief of the biology of ageing division in the UF College of Medicine, said: “I think it is important for people to focus on good nutrition, but for those of advanced age who are running out of energy and not moving much, we’re trying to find a supplement mixture that can help improve their quality of life.” The researchers investigated the potential anti-ageing benefits of a commercially available mixture marketed for relieving chronic fatigue and protecting against muscle ageing. The supplement contains the antioxidant coenzyme Q10, creatine - a compound that aids muscle performance - and ginseng, which also has been shown to have antioxidant properties. For six weeks, researchers fed the supplement to middleaged 21-month-old and late-middle-aged 29-month-old rats - corresponding to 50-to 65-year-old and 65-to 80-year-old humans, respectively - and measured how strongly their paws could grip. Grip strength in rats is seen as similar to physical performance in humans, and deterioration in strength can provide useful information about muscle weakness or loss seen in older adults. Grip strength improved 12 per cent in the middle-aged rats compared with controls, but no improvement was found in the older group.
Cllr Claire Vasey, Cllr Neil Foster, Charlie Peason, Sarah Clarke, Chloe Haley and Jack Emberson from Framwellgate School, Durham
Science Festival Provides a Brainwave For Future Workforce School children and families from across County Durham will be given an opportunity to take part in a range of science related workshops to discover how science fits in to our everyday life at a County Durham festival this summer. Brainwave10, a three-day festival designed to bring science and technology to life will take place at the regionâ€™s fastest growing science park, The North East Technology Park (NETPark) in Sedgefield, County Durham from July 15-17. The festival forms part of Project C, an exciting programme of activities and events planned to take place until 2012 that have been designed to communicate and interact with the regional community and heighten awareness of, and excitement for, the ground-breaking work in science and THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
technology undertaken by companies based at NETPark and elsewhere in the county. Organised by County Durham Development Company (CDDC) and Durham University, the first two days of the event will be dedicated to school children from across the county with more than 500 Year 8 students expected to take part in organised visits. The final day, Saturday July 17, has been designed to appeal to a much wider audience and the organisers hope to welcome more than 1,000 visitors to NETPark. Catherine Johns, CDDC director of innovation development said: â€œBrainwave10 is set to be a fun filled event that will truly inspire people of all ages about science and technology.
BRAINWAVE SATURDAY 17TH JULY
“Some of the most cutting edge products in the world are being developed right here at NETPark in County Durham and Project C aims to raise awareness of that and inspire the next generation about the possibilities of working in science and technology. “We need young people in this area to have the right skills to fill the jobs that these cutting edge companies are creating if we are to continue to attract such businesses to establish themselves and grow at NETPark.”
Dr Lorraine Coghill, NETPark Science Outreach Coordinator based at Durham University added: “Students and visitors to NETPark are always amazed by the groundbreaking work that takes place there so we are delighted that an event such as Brainwave10 allows us to invite hundreds of people at a time to take a closer look at some of the exciting things going on in the world of science and technology on our very doorstep.”
One of the highlights of the event will be a series of lectures from highly influential Royal Institution lecturers as well as a range of other exciting interactive workshops and scientific experiments.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRIES GROW County Durham’s fast-paced science and technology industries have been growing impressively over the last few years, and one of the main reasons for this is the presence of the North East Technology Park (NETPark) in Sedgefield. NETPark focuses on supporting companies that are developing technology and products in the physical sciences, particularly printable electronics, microelectronics, photonics and nanotechnology, and their application in the fields of energy, defence, and medical-related technologies. Part of the NETPark site is the NETPark incubator, a facility which aims to support technology companies in the early stages of business. The incubator has recently welcomed a new company which embodies this approach – Thermastrate. The firm works at the cutting edge of its field and has made its home at NETPark in order to further its ambitions. Thermastrate designs and manufactures a new type of thermally efficient, custom electronic, power substrate and heatsink assemblies. The technology is aimed at electronics applications that require more effective thermal and interconnect solutions than afforded by conventional methods. Thermastrate moved into the NETPark Incubator in April, placing it right next to the Printable Electronics Technology Centre (PETEC). Thermastrate CEO Felix Hirzel said: “It’s great to be in an environment like NETPark, filled with leading innovative companies working on complimentary products and technology. Being in such close proximity to the experience of organisations such as the Printable Electronics Technology Centre is a huge boost to the work we’re doing. THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
Our new location is more suited to our core business activities, allowing us to focus on new product development and pilot production. We’ll outsource mass production to a global supply chain, but the key aspects of our business will remain at NETPark.” Thermastrate’s products continue to generate interest and new orders, particularly from the high brightness LED industry. Last year the firm received funding to allow development of its solar heatsinking technology, which gets heat out of solar cells fed by concentrating mirrors and lenses. “Now that we’re established here, we’re very excited about our prospects for 2010. Our plans for the future involve the development of a low-to-medium volume manufacturing facility, some of which will be based at our NETPark HQ, and the incubation centre is a perfect start for a company like ours.” Stewart Watkins, Managing Director of County Durham Development Company, said: “Seeing companies coming to NETPark to make the most of the expertise available is proof that the incubator approach works for small science and technology firms. “New companies like Thermastrate are coming onboard at NETPark all the time, reinforcing its position as a vital part of the region’s high tech industries. “We’re glad to be able to help innovative young companies in the next stage of their development, so we’re looking forward to seeing who the next incubator tenants will be.” www.thermastrate.com www.northeasttechnologypark.com
Where brilliant ideas grow.
The NETPark Incubator doesnâ€™t just provide space to work, it provides a total-support environment in which science and technology businesses can develop and grow. If your business is based on the research, design and development of new technologies, and displays the potential and ambition for growth through innovation, then why not join us? If you have a product to develop, weâ€™ll help you turn it into a business. To find out more, visit us at:
www.NorthEastTechnologyPark.com Or contact us at: The NETPark Incubator, Thomas Wright Way, Sedgefield, County Durham TS21 3FD
NETPark enquiries: +44 (0)1740 625180 NETPark is developed by:
INCUBATOR where business grows
DARLINGTON COMPANY AT HEART OF WAVE POWER PROJECT Darlington company CTC Marine Projects has been named as offshore contractor for an exciting marine energy project being developed off the Cornish coast. The South West Regional Development Agency announced that CTC will work on the Wave Hub project, with its team handling the installation of a 25km armoured subsea cable, and the deployment of the hub itself on the seabed in 50m of water. Wave Hub is a project to create the world’s largest test site for wave energy technology by building a grid-connected socket on the seabed, 16 kilometres off the coast of Cornwall. Once installed, wave power devices can be connected to the hub and their performance evaluated. CTC Marine will be responsible for laying the 1,300 tonne cable, and deploying the 12 tonne Wave Hub itself. The operation will include burying cable on the beach at Hayle where it comes ashore and for the first six kilometres offshore using a 45-tonne underwater trenching machine that crawls along the seabed, burying the cable as it goes. Further out to sea, where the seabed off Cornwall becomes more rocky, the cable will be held in place by a combination of rocks and 176 concrete ‘mattresses’, each of which
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measures six metres by three metres and weighs up to four and half tonnes. The £42 million project has been developed by the regional development agency. Jim Price, its head of procurement for Wave Hub, said: “The award of this contract is a significant milestone for Wave Hub and it means we’re all systems go for deployment this summer.” Daryl Lynch, managing director of CTC Marine, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this prestigious project and look forward to bringing CTC’s offshore management and subsea engineering experience to Wave Hub.” CTC Marine Projects, a member of the Trico Marine Group, operates some of the world’s largest, most technically advanced marine vehicles. They allow the company to complete work including trenching and comprehensive subsea protection services for the international offshore construction industry. CTC Marine has the ability to trench or install any product, in any water depth, in any region of the world for offshore oil and gas, telecommunications, renewable power and military markets. www.ctc.tricomarine.com
SENERGY ECONNECT RECEIVES GRANT TO DEVELOP A North East company has launched a project that could save homeowners and businesses millions of pounds by driving down fuel bills and optimising energy usage, creating up to 20 new jobs in the region.
to prepare the electricity networks for the low carbon technologies which are needed to meet our climate change targets such as electric vehicles, and clean, cheap electric heating.”
One North East has awarded Tyneside alternative energy company Senergy Econnect Ltd a Large Company Grant for Research and Development (R&D) of almost £172,000 for a project to create an energy demand management system.
Dr Christine Barbier, Senergy Econnect R&D Manager, said: “Developing a product like Powasys involves a considerable commitment to time and resources. We’re extremely appreciative of the substantial grant from One North East which will enable us to greatly accelerate the project and also demonstrates the very real potential of Powasys.”
It is anticipated that the system will reduce energy costs, increase the management efficiency of energy networks, and considerably decrease the reliance on back-up power plants. Senergy Econnect’s £400,000 two-year project, Powasys, also aims to cut energy bills and reduce carbon footprints by enabling homeowners and businesses to take advantage of the most cost-effective and cheapest tariffs available. Powasys will also create two new jobs at the company’s Newcastle headquarters – increasing the team to seven - with the potential to create a further 20 skilled positions if the project proves a success. Dr Vincent Thornley, Head of Smartgrids for Senergy Econnect, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Senergy Alternative Energy, said: “Powasys is an important industry development for Senergy Econnect and the UK as we are endeavouring to make our electricity networks work smarter and increase renewable energy. “The strategy behind the technology is to protect the country against rising energy costs and to address many of the concerns levelled at wind energy generation regarding its variable output. It could also enhance our capabilities
Senergy Econnect Ltd is an industry-renowned company specialising in grid connection and electrical engineering from initial concept to design and commissioning. GEO (Green Energy Options Ltd) of Cambridge, is a collaborating partner and will be developing its displays, sensors and in-home controllers to support Powasys. GEO is a leading energy monitoring business that makes a range of smart energy management systems designed to engage users. Patrick Cagier-Smith, Chief Executive of GEO, said: “This is a brilliant initiative to integrate two emerging products and properly address demand management. “With the expected growth in electric cars and electrical home heating systems - heat pumps and heat recovery - there will be an ever increasing strain on the grid. Innovative ways of managing demand peaks will be needed to avoid building more expensive and unwanted power stations. This is where demand management fits.” www.senergyworld.com www.greenenergyoptions.co.uk
EXCITING TIMES ARE BLOWING IN THE WIND A report has identified the North Sea as one of the world’s key areas for the development of renewable technologies.
opportunities with a growing number of specialist companies now operating in the region.
According to the Offshore Valuation Group, a coalition of government and industry organisations, the potential to generate off-shore resources matches the potential that has now been realised for North Sea oil and gas production.
At the heart of much of the work is NAREC the renewables industry centre at Blyth on the Northumberland coast, which is working with a variety of companies and organisations to develop and test new technologies.
The report has been welcomed by RenewableUK, the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries, which says that the potential for wind energy is immense.
One of the initiatives was the recent opening of a 27 metre high training facility, the UK’s first Wind Turbine Training Tower.
Offshore Valuation Group members, including the Department of Energy & Climate Change, The Scottish Government, The Welsh Assembly, Crown Estates, E.ON and Npower Renewables Ltd, suggest that using less than a third of the total available offshore resource could have massive effects. They estimate that such a policy could: n generate the electricity equivalent of one billion barrels of
oil annually, matching North Sea oil and gas production n create 145,000 new jobs in this country and provide the
Treasury with £28 billion in tax receipts n enable Britain to become a net exporter of electricity by 2050 n reduce carbon emissions relative to 1990 levels by 30%.
Peter Madigan, Head of Offshore Renewables at RenewableUK, said: “This is a hugely exciting piece of research which sets out compelling factual evidence of the huge potential of the UK ’s offshore renewable energy resource. “As an association we have long been saying that the North Sea will become the Saudi Arabia of wind energy. “Just as 30 years ago, the North Sea could be our ticket for economic growth. We are looking forward to the new Government putting in place the policy framework to make it happen.” The North East is well placed to take advantage of the THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
The Training Tower is the result of a collaborative training partnership involving One North East, Northumberland College, Mainstream Renewable Power and NAREC. An open access facility, it is designed to allow education and training providers to deliver academic and industrial training programmes for technicians working in the wind industry and at height, both onshore and offshore. Rachel Ellis-Jones, Principal and Chief Executive of Northumberland College, said: “The Training Tower will help to ensure that the students on the wind technician training programme at Northumberland College are trained to British and European industrial standards. The specification of the tower and the equipment within it will also allow us to develop new training modules which will enable us to meet the skills needs of the wind energy industry.” Andrew Mill, CEO at NAREC, said: “The industry is predicting that technicians in their tens of thousands will be needed to install, operate and maintain new wind generating capacity offshore and the tower marks the first stage of the creation of a national training centre for the industry in North East England.” Helen Goodman MP, formerly Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions and a North East MP, said: “Young people are now getting back to work in these green jobs across every region in Britain.” www.offshorevaluation.org
HARNESSING EXPERTISE IN THE WORLD OF WINDFARMS TWI Ltd’s Low Carbon Energy Manufacturing Technology Centre in Middlesbrough and Technology Centre in Sheffield, parts of a world leading materials joining research and development organisation, are involved in a series of innovative projects within the field of wind turbine development. The projects are facilitated by the Northern Wind Innovation Programme, and involve collaborative groups of companies from the North East, South Yorkshire and the North West regions (collectively, the Northern Way). One project under way is FabFound, which has seen TWI work with Consortium Partners RCID at Newcastle University, Setech, Parsons Brinckerhoff, McNulty Offshore Construction, Vattenfall Wind Power, Scottish Power Renewables and Clipper Windpower Marine. As wind turbines move further offshore, requirements for turbine support structures (towers and marine foundations) in deep water become more onerous. The foundations become larger (up to 60m height) and heavier (up to 1000 tonnes) and are fabricated from thick section steel tubulars of up to 7m diameter and 150mm thick. The large number of turbines required to meet the capacity expectation will require innovative fabrication and logistics for manufacture of these structures on a scale that exceeds the capacity of incumbent steel fabrication industries in the UK. The FabFound project aims to use a new and innovative fabrication process for wind turbine foundations in order to allow the necessary production capacity to be met. The project will generate new multifaceted foundation designs (optimized for rapid manufacture) that can be fabricated from readily available flat steel plate with only minimal processing required prior to joining by novel high speed welding techniques. The designs will be examined structurally and geo-technically and will be qualified for use. The entire production route will be examined (facilities required, metal supply, joining processes, materials handling etc) in terms of performance, logistics and economic viability.
It will implement an integrated condition monitoring system which will combine the use of acoustic emission and vibration sensors in conjunction with electronic bolting monitoring, eddy current sensors and acoustic oil film sensing to evaluate the overall operational condition of the turbine’s generator, gearbox bearings, main shaft and yaw bearings. The condition monitoring system will quantify the detected faults and enable the wind farm operators to update the maintenance schedule accordingly. By increasing the reliability of the North England wind turbine fleet, the wind farm operators will be able to improve their maintenance strategies, minimise operating costs and improve their efficiency. TWI Technology Centre (Yorkshire) Ltd is working on the IMPCOAT project, with consortium partners International Paints, Monitor Coatings Ltd, McNulty Offshore Construction Ltd, Vattenfall Wind Power Ltd and the University of Manchester (Corrosion & Protection Centre). The aim of this project is to improve the performance of splash and tidal zone coatings systems to increase the effective life of the steel structures which support offshore wind turbines to 40 years. TWI has been active in the development of thermally-sprayed aluminium (TSA) coating applications for the offshore oil & gas sector since 2000, including three Joint Industry Projects funded by leading oil producers. Twenty-five years of oil sector experience indicates that TSA coatings provide longer term protection. Switching to TSA coatings could reduce coating application and maintenance costs significantly, whilst reducing coating application times. The main benefits of the project are:
The aim of the project is to increase the foundation manufacturing capacity of the UK, and specifically to position the consortium and other fabrication/supply chain companies in the Northern Way regions to tender competitively on price and timescale for supplying developers of offshore wind farms.
n Reduced on-site coating repair and maintenance costs and lower life cycle costs. n Extended corrosion design life with extended maintenance intervals. n Reduced structural mass and lower associated material costs. n Reduced coating costs during fabrication. n Increased foundation production rates. n Lower electricity unit prices.
Another project is Novel Integrated Condition Monitoring System for Wind Turbine components (BearInspect), with consortium partners University of Sheffield, CMR Ltd, SKM, James Walker & Co Ltd, Le Carbone UK and Applied Inspection Ltd. Employed on the project has been TWI’s Non Destructive Testing (NDT) Group, one of the largest research groups in this field of science and technology with more than 60 researchers and engineers employed.
LCE-MTC is part-financed by the European Union’s ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-13, securing £1.7m ERDF investment through One North East. The ERDF programme is bringing over £250m into the North East to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region and aims to help create and safeguard 28,000 new jobs, start 3,000 new businesses and increase the region’s productivity by £1.1bn per annum.
During the last few years, wind turbine manufacturers and operators have shown strong demand for the development of advanced condition monitoring systems for evaluating the operational condition of turbines.
A specialist deliverer of
The BearInspect project will seek to bring about better reliability standards and reduced corrective maintenance costs through accurate condition monitoring of wind turbines.
ART@NETPARK Interacting with the community is at the heart of the vision for one of the region’s flagship developments. The North East Technology Park (NETPark) at Sedgefield in County Durham is one of the fastest growing science parks in the UK and is key to the development of the knowledge-based economy. But for County Durham Development Company (CDDC), the driving force behind NETPark’s development, the mission for the park is to make an impact on the wider community, not just on the business community. Catherine Johns, Director of Innovation Development at CDDC explains: “As well as being a unique innovative community and the ideal environment for high-technology companies to set up and grow, NETPark has a vital social role to play. “We want it to be a place that inspires companies, but also inspires our young people by showing them the impact science, technology and engineering has on our everyday lives, and the fantastic career opportunities on offer. “Our master plan includes amenities open to local people and we’re embarking on a programme that will help us engage with our community.”
Examples of work from (left) Paul Belcher and (right) Rob Dolman
ROB DOLMAN All nature is but art, unknown to thee, All chance, direction, which thou canst not see All discord, harmony not understood. Alexander Pope (1688-1744) ‘Essay on Man’
“The world is a melange of assumptions and prejudices with a vast depth concealed behind a thin facade. The interior is assumed to be just more of the surface, and sections through the internal structure usually provide only new exterior faces. “My work explores these ‘surfaces’ or ‘landscapes’, and our attempts to understand what is going on at depth by categorising, codifying and confining them. The paintings hopefully scratch the facade a little – to investigate the exchange between the real and the imaginary – the consequent images are cartographical abstractions rather than strictly abstract.”
Now NETPark has added ‘art gallery’ to its impressive list of stateof-the-art facilities.
“My work is inspired by imagery and technology around me, from seeing fungi growing on the side of a tree to images from the Hubble telescope.
CDDC invited artists to put forward proposals for exhibiting their work at the NETPark Incubator, offering them a high quality, high profile showcase for a changing programme exhibited over two floors.
“The work is predominantly abstract, created in an organic using mixed media in such a way as to cause reactions within the materials, creating accidental effects which are then worked back into.
Catherine Johns continues: “We weren’t prescriptive about the type of work that was submitted for display because we want to see NETPark become home to any style that’s practical to show in a working environment.
“Therefore, some work can only be created once, as the textures acquired are random.
“From a very high standard of submissions, two artists were selected - Rob Dolman, whose work can be seen on the ground floor, and Paul Belcher whose work occupies the upper floor.” As well as giving the artists great exposure for their work the paintings are for sale – and CDDC charges no commission! THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
“Many of the paintings have an organic and molecular feel to them in which the viewer is exploring and finding their own patterns and imagery. “Recently the works on canvas and boards are being further explored by recreating them digitally and this is an ongoing project.”
A STRATEGIC APPROACH TO FP7 R&D FUNDING (PART1) The European Framework 7 Programme is the largest source of R&D funding in the world and currently worth â‚Ź54bn between 2007 and 2013. This article, the first of a series, discusses the development of a strategic approach to the development of FP7 bids. It focuses upon the process of lobbying, i.e. when it is possible, how to do it, and when should it be avoided. Over half of the FP7 programme funding involves top-down calls for proposals, therefore successful lobbying can create opportunities to bid with greater confidence and background understanding which should translate into better success rates.
When is it possible to lobby? It is possible to lobby the EU, directly or indirectly, when Draft Work Programmes are under development. But it is important to understand the timescales involved. For example the Work Programme for Health 2011 is still only in Draft form, and will be published at the end of July 2010. However the development of the Draft Work Programme for 2012 is already underway, albeit at its very earliest stages. In other words it is too late to influence the 2011 Programme, and a sense of urgency is required if any lobbying of the 2012 Work Programme is going to bear fruit.
When is it not possible to lobby? It is not possible to lobby once the Work Programme has come out, or the call has closed and evaluation is underway. The integrity of the Evaluation process is vital to the EU and for the sanity of all of us whose livelihood is linked to FP7 funding. Proposals are evaluated by independent peer reviewers. The EU and Programme Committees should not be lobbied to get a particular proposal funded.
What preparation do I need to do before starting to lobby? Ask yourself a series of questions, and rehearse the answers before contacting anyone. Why is the topic needed? Why does it need to be done at a European level rather than pursuing national funding? How does it fit in the FP7 agenda (Previous Work Programmes, European Technology Platforms â€“ Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) and other relevant EU policy documentation)? What will the impacts be, and what will happen if nothing is done? This is a very sensitive and thoughtful process requiring careful planning and sustained activity. There are proper channels through which lobbying can be performed legitimately and effectively without any recourse to the shadier connotations of the phrase. Derek McKenzie, Kite Innovation (Europe) Ltd.
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