ISSUE 1 6 W I
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
T I G E R S ‘ H I G H LY V U L N E RA
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. I heard a piece on radio recently where someone remarked that we’ve moved from ‘I think, therefore I am’ to ‘I consume, therefore I am’. Like many soundbites it’s a bit of a generalisation, but there’s no doubting that there are environmental issues surrounding a consumer-driven economy. Many of us aren’t really cut out for the ‘Good Life’ – for a Tom and Barbara return to the pursuit of self-suficiency. We need our ‘fix’ of gadgets, we really mean to walk to the shops, but it’s raining and the car’s just a step away. And the economy needs us to want the latest products, doesn’t it? So, as we’re not likely to give up the car, or our hankering for HD or i-pads, we need to invest in educating people about more sustainable ways of producing, using, and disposing of the results of our technological advances. That’s one of the major themes we’re examining in this issue of NETWorks. We look at sustainability intitiatives that Durham County Council is pursuing; and we highlight Solar Flair 10, the national photovoltaics conference that, in conjunction with the Electronics, Sensors and Photonics Knowledge Transfer Network, that took place recently in County Durham. With some truly innovative photovoltaic (PV) technology on the planet on show, the event offered a great opportunity for delegates to learn how to get involved in the solar power supply chain in a sector where business can contribute to a more sustainable world and make profits. We also look at our very own Project C - a programme of activities and events from 2010 to 2012 designed to communicate with the regional community and to heighten awareness of, and enthusiasm for, the ground-breaking work undertaken by companies based at NETPark. You can read about developments at NETPark, about world-class university research and about how innovative companies in County Durham and throughout the north east are discovering smarter processes and more efficient products. Read on, and like me you might find that ‘I consume in a sustainable way, therefore I am’ is a more appropriate aphorism for the times in which we live. 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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NEWS & EVENTS...NOT TO BE MISSED THE NETPARK CONNECTOR PROJECT SOLAR PV - YOUR QUESTIONS, ANSWERED FROM SCIENCE 2 BUSINESS...AS EASY AS ABC DEVELOPMENT OF LOW CARBON PLANT UNDER WAY NEW OFFSHORE WIND TURBINE FOUNDATION DESIGN NE FIRMS CAPITALISE ON SOLAR POTENTIAL INVESTING IN INNOVATION APPROVAL GIVEN FOR ONSHORE TEST RIGS FIRST SWITCH EV CARS HIT THE ROAD IN NE ENGLAND MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH ON OFFSHORE WIND DEVELOPMENT SCIENTISTS HELP SHAPE A GREEN FUTURE FOR EGYPT FAMILY FOOD SUPPORT INSPIRES SOFTWARE SUCCESS STEM CELLS AND REGENERATIVE MEDICINE BRINGING SCIENCE TO LIFE SUPPORTING SCIENCE AND HEALTHCARE COMPANIES DRIVING INNOVATION IN HEALTHCARE AND WELLBEING ‘EASI’ ACCESS TO NATIONAL CLIENTS THE KING’S FUND RESPONSE TO THE SPENDING REVIEW ROOM TO GROW AT NETPARK IMPROVING THE WAY IN WHICH BREAST CANCER IS DETECTED €2M SECURED FOR POINT OF NEED DIAGNOSTICS EXPLOSIVE RESEARCH CASTS NEW LIGHT ON SUPERNOVAS IMPROVED TESTING METHOD FOR AUTISM TEST COULD PROVIDE ADVANCED WARNING OF EARTHQUAKES THAT’S YOUR LOT! RECRUITMENT COMPANY SUPPORTS BUSINESS EXPANSION BREAKING THAT AWKWARD SILENCE TIGERS AND POLAR BEARS ‘HIGHLY VULNERABLE’ CASTING LIGHT ON A DISTANT GALAXY
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VA S NETWorks16.indd 4
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
NEWS & EVENTS... NOT TO BE MISSED 2009 CARBON EMISSIONS FALL SMALLER THAN EXPECTED An analysis of 2009 emissions data issued in the journal Nature Geoscience shows that carbon emissions fell in 2009 due to the recession. However, at 1.3% the figure is below the projected level. Industrialised nations saw big falls in emissions - but major developing countries saw a continued rise. NUCLEAR “BATTERIES” FOR COMMERCIAL TANKERS? New designs that could deliver safer, cleaner and commercially viable forms of propulsion for the global merchant fleet are high on the agenda. A consortium which brings together British, American and Greek interests is to look at the possibilities of small modular reactors (SMRs). The Strategic Research Group at Lloyd’s Register, Hyperion Power Generation Inc., British designer BMT Nigel Gee, and Greek ship operator Enterprises Shipping and Trading SA are to lead the research into nuclear propulsion, which they believe is technically feasible and could drastically reduce the CO2 emissions caused by commercial shipping. SCOTLAND PUBLISHES ITS LOW CARBON ECONOMIC STRATEGY November saw the launch of the Scottish Government’s plans to utilise Scotland’s natural resources in a way that will ensure economic growth, cut emissions and secure an estimated 60,000 new green jobs. The low-carbon economy strategy is built around the development of low carbon goods, processes and services in
rapidly expanding markets. It aims to focus public sector support on low-carbon industries whilst forging new private sector and international partnerships. EUROPEAN COMMISSION RELEASES ENERGY STRATEGY TO 2020 November proved a popular month for energy strategies as the European Commission (EC) presented its energy strategy towards 2020, naming five top priorities, including creating a pan-European integrated energy market and maintaining European leadership in energy research and development. “Energy 2020, A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy” sets the agenda for an EU energy summit to take place next February. SOLAR PV NEEDS A STABLE FRAMEWORK In a response to ‘Energy 2020’, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) says all necessary national support instruments for renewable energy including solar photovoltaics (PV) must be preserved. LOW-CARBON ENERGY CAN MEET NEEDS BY 2050 The Risø Energy Report 9 lists a wide range of energy technologies in the market with low or no emissions of greenhouse gases, describing how several of these will be made commercially available in the next decades. The report predicts that, taken as a whole, energy sources with low or no carbon emissions could easily cover the global energy supply in 2050.
NETPARK NET CLINIC SCHEDULE 2011 – FIRST QUARTER DATE
25th Jan 2011
Joanna Berry & Paul Watson
Cloud Computing – benefits to your company?
1 Feb 2011
Access to Equity Finance
8th Feb 2011
IP advice for your business
22nd Feb 2011
Tendering for opportunities and winning contracts
8th Mar 2011
Centre for Process Industries
Commercialising your high-tech opportunities
22nd Mar 2011
Design expertise for high growth businesses
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THE NETPARK CONNECTOR PROJECT Project C (C for Commercialisation, Collaboration and Communities), aims to embed innovation in local communities using NETPark - the North East Technology Park at Sedgefield - as a focus to build partnerships between the community, education, and businesses. The project is a joint initiative between Durham University and the County Durham Development Company and is funded until at least the end of March 2012 to raise aspirations and increase awareness of opportunities in science, engineering and technology. INTERESTED IN JOINING IN? Schools & extended schools programmes In partnership with local schools and colleges, the project team has developed science and innovation workshops and activities suitable for KS3, 4 and post-16 students that can be delivered in schools. These activities aim to engage pupils and enhance learning and include after-school science club sessions and workshops on topics including DNA, forensics, smart materials and electronics, as well as business planning, transferrable skills development and invention workshops. Special themed days can be run in school, at NETPark or at Durham University including innovation days for foundation science students and ‘amazing materials’ days for KS3. Current school projects include: n Full on futures, student-researched and organised science
n A science careers filming project to support Kinetick,
NETPark’s website linking pupils with industry to address real business challenges.
n School science festivals for local communities. n Recharging the Earth, in collaboration with Sanyo in
which students develop materials to raise awareness of the science behind batteries and battery recycling, to encourage sustainable living and emphasize the potential of science to inform sustainable living.
n A business planning competition primarily for A-level students. n Scientists@work, a practical and competition-based project
bringing teams of secondary (Year 12) or FE students into direct contact with a working scientist.
n Summer schools/residential events providing unique
opportunities for students to benefit from innovative and challenging courses and a full and varied social programme to give students a genuine experience of life in a university.
n A forensics project where students are challenged to
analyse a crime scene using cutting-edge techniques.
n A renewable energy project for students to explore
COMMUNITIES PROGRAMMES There are also opportunities for community groups, including family and adult learners, to become involved in the NETPark Connector activities. One-off special events such as NETPark’s summer ‘Brainwave’ event, evening ‘Appliance of Science’ workshops and holiday family science activities form part of the project. Science and books are being investigated in local libraries whilst a science-art project and workshops aiming to support parents/guardians in supporting their children’s learning are in development. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION The project team are keen to develop partnerships with schools and other groups, developing new projects and tailoring sessions to suit the needs of the group. All sessions are offered free of charge and there may be assistance with any additional costs. Please contact Lorraine Coghill on 0191 334 2331 - l.s.coghill@ durham.ac.uk or Emma Bennett on 0191 370 8680 - emma. firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
SOLAR PV - YOUR QUESTIONS, ANSWERED A typical domestic Solar PV system could generate an income of about £850 annually. For an initial layout of between £610,000 payback could be achieved within 7 – 12 years.
2. Export tariff – you will receive a further 3p/kWh from your energy supplier for each unit you export back to the electricity grid. The export rate is the same for all technologies.
Solar Photovoltaics (PV) work? They convert the energy contained within the sun’s rays into DC electricity. The strength of a PV cell is measured in kilowatt peak (kWp) - that’s the amount of energy the cell generates in full sunlight. The greater the intensity of light, the greater the level of electrical charge generated.
3. Energy bill savings – you will be making savings on your electricity bills, because generating electricity to power your appliances means you don’t have to buy as much electricity from your energy supplier. The amount you save will vary depending how much of the electricity you use on site.
What are the costs? A typical domestic solar PV systems costs between £5000 - £7000 per kW. Most domestic systems range from 1-2kW, therefore the cost should be in the range of £5000 - £14,000 fully installed. A roof integrated system will cost more than panels placed on top of the roof, however if your roof needs replacing this could provide a great opportunity to install an integrated solar system.
Stand alone systems or grid connected? In some areas there may not be an option to connect to the grid. In such cases a Solar PV will generate electricity straight in to your building or via a battery system. Even if you are off - grid, you will still be eligible to receive a generation tariff at the rate 29.3p/kWh. If your system is not fitted directly to a building but electricity generated is wired back to the building to be used on site, then you will be eligible to receive the tariff rate (see www.est.org.uk).
What are the savings? The government have recently introduced the Feed in Tariff. The scheme requires energy suppliers to make regular payments to householders and communities who generate their own electricity from renewable technologies, it will benefit the generator in 3 ways:
Is your roof strong enough? Solar panels are not particularly heavy, however the roof must be strong enough to take their weight, especially if the panel is placed on top of existing tiles. If in doubt, ask a construction expert or an installer. They can also be installed on a garage roof or the ground.
1. Generation tariff – a set rate paid by the energy supplier for each unit (or kWh) of electricity you generate and once you join you will continue on the same tariff for 25 years in the case of solar electricity (PV). This could mean a system is paid for in 10 years but continues at a higher rate for the remaining 15.
How do I find an installer? In all cases, installers should be Microgeneration Certification Scheme certified installers (information overleaf), otherwise you will not be able to claim the Feed in Tariff. As in all situations ensure you secure at least three quotes.
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FROM SCIENCE 2 BUSINESS ...AS EASY AS ABC An innovative project looking into potential bio-mass materials is close to conclusion, and Teesside University’s Science 2 Business (S2B) Hub is keen to spread the word about the future of low carbon manufacturing in the region. The Assessing Biomass to Chemicals (ABC) Project, sponsored by DEFRA and DECC through the Renewable Materials LINK Programme, is assessing the commercially sound conversion of biomass to chemicals. Eight representative industrial chemical products have been investigated to assess methods of producing chemicals sustainably. The conversion of biomass to chemicals is vital to the future of many industries, as developing ways of reducing the usage of fossil fuels in chemical production becomes more critical. The S2B Hub’s Project Manager, Dr Roy Huzzard, understands the importance of such projects. He said, ‘Innovation doesn’t just happen! Science using companies from the North East must be made aware of excellent collaborative projects like this, so they have the knowledge and confidence to make a start. That’s where we come in. S2B helps create projects and innovative solutions to help businesses meet the economic and technological challenges that lie ahead.’ Teesside University, led by Professor Maria Olea, alongside the universities of Newcastle and Surrey have drawn on the expertise of seven front-line industrial partners – AkzoNobel, GrowHow, Scott Bader, Jacobs Engineering, Graphite Resources, Link2Energy together with recent member Invista, to explore a wide range of possible bio-mass material. Wood chip, municipal waste and cereal/cereal waste have been identified as most suited to its needs.
The North East of England Process Industry Cluster’s Technical Manager, Mark Lewis, explains, ‘The range covers key bulk chemicals such as ethylene and ammonia which provide fertilisers and base materials for everyday living in the UK. But it also looks at speciality chemicals such as styrene and propylene glycol which also have an important job to do in meeting specific needs of society.’ The consortium considered sources likely to be plentiful, competitively priced and not competing for use of agricultural land needed to supply the food chain. Its ultimate aim is to achieve a practical understanding about which industrial chemicals could be manufactured most cost-effectively from the biomass types under examination. With the source bio-material defined, the project is looking at possible manufacturing routes. It is also addressing two fundamentally different processing principles – thermochemistry and fermentation – which offer potential and justify examination. It expects to have a listing of possible routings and an insight into associated costs in the near future. Finally, the project will investigate future scenarios to assess and optimise when a cross-over might be economically attractive from oil-based manufacturing. Find out more about the Science 2 Business Hub and their work with companies in the North East, visit www.tees.ac.uk/s2b.
DEVELOPMENT OF LOW CARBON PLANT UNDER WAY Work has started on a unique new low-carbon technology that generates electricity using waste heat from industrial sites in North East England. The DRD Power project will be demonstrated at the Huntsman Pigments site at Greatham, Hartlepool, using hot water from the plant to generate up to 200kW electricity - saving between 600 and 750 tonnes of CO2 per year. Stuart Johnson, Site Development Manager at Huntsman said: “We are very pleased to host the trial of this cuttingedge technology on our site. It demonstrates our continuing commitment to develop sustainable, energy efficient manufacturing and to reducing our impact on the environment.” The Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) unit will use waste water from the plant to heat a fluid with a lower boiling point, and the resulting pressure drives a generator. The unit is capable of recovering low-grade heat (between 90-130°C) generated by the process industries which is currently emitted to the atmosphere.
As well as being used for waste heat recovery at process plants, the ORC technology could be used at industrial sites including refineries, petrochemical complexes, steel works, cement works, paper mills and as part of biomass, CHP and waste-to-energy plants. Ian Williams, Director of Business and Industry at One North East, said: “The technology that DRD Power is developing is highly innovative, has the potential to be applied in a range of other areas and will clearly increase the efficiency of plant operations, leading to lower carbon emissions and lower energy costs. “Should this pilot prove successful, the ORC unit will be of great interest to businesses throughout the region, allowing North East England to gain a competitive advantage and to further strengthen our reputation as a centre of innovation and a leader in developing the low carbon economy.” * The Tees Valley Industrial Programme (TVIP) is a £60m investment over the next two years from One North East and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to support
This £1m project is due to be operational by March 2011 and has received £248,000 investment from One North East through the Tees Valley Industrial Programme. THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
NEW OFFSHORE WIND TURBINE FOUNDATION DESIGN A proposed novel design of wind tower foundation, fabricated from flat plate. This multifacetted approach to fabrication has the potential to meet the increasing capacity for wind farms at a reduced cost.
It is anticipated that the market for offshore turbines will significantly outstrip the current manufacturing capacity. A consortium of companies from the Northern Way region are examining a new and innovative fabrication process for offshore wind turbine foundations which has the potential to allow the necessary production capacity to be met. Several foundation concepts are being considered for the next generation of offshore turbines, including monopiles, tripods and braced jacket structures. All are manufactured from tubular steel sections. Typically, these are fabricated by rolling thick plate and welding longitudinally to produce cans and then joining the sections together with circumferential welds. Rolling thick plate (>100mm) requires heavy rolls and hence high capital investment, limiting the number of facilities capable of carrying out the process. It is also a time consuming operation and the length of each ring is restricted by the width of the rolls and plates, commonly to 3-4 metres. The novel multi-faceted design proposed in this work is fabricated from strips of flat plate welded together longitudinally, hence eliminating the rolling step. This allows sub-assemblies of greater than 10m in length to be manufactured, reducing the number of circumferential welds necessary in the foundation. This approach is enabled through the use of rapid, thick-section welding techniques for the longitudinal seams. Geotechnical and structural aspects of the proposed design concept have been considered to determine whether the foundations will be fit for purpose. Preliminary results have demonstrated that a multi-faceted design can be developed with equivalent section properties to the circular design, albeit with a thicker wall. Detailed calculations have shown satisfactory performance in the Ultimate Limit State and Serviceability Limit State. Initial results show suitable fatigue performance and further analysis is being carried out to look at this aspect in detail. Increased wave load, fabrication tolerance and weld location have been highlighted as important factors in the structural assessment of multi-faceted foundations. The entire production route is currently being examined in terms of performance, logistics and economics, in order to determine the viability of the novel multi-faceted approach. The FabFound project is a collaboration between TWI, RCID at Newcastle University, SEtech, Parsons Brinkerhoff, McNulty Offshore Construction, Vattenfall Wind Power, Scottish Power Renewables and Clipper Windpower Marine. The work is supported by the Northern Wind Innovation Programme.
Each segment of the multifaceted foundation could be in excess of 10 metres in length, whereas using conventional manufacturing methods each ring is 3-4m long. Consequently, the new design reduces the number of circumferential welds necessary to be made on-site.
Modelling of the fatigue stresses within a 10 sided foundation design.
A joint in a potential 10 sided foundation design. The joint was made using the high speed reduced pressure electron beam (RPEB) welding process.
A schematic representation of a welding bay for producing the longitudinal seams within the multifaceted design.
Phil Crosby and Dr Joseph Boisvert
NE FIRMS CAPITALISE ON SOLAR POTENTIAL MORE THAN 80 representatives from businesses and public sector organisations flocked to a national photovoltaic (PV) conference to explore opportunities to capitalise on a fast growing renewable energy sector.
Auckland-based metal roofing and cladding manufacturer has started to design and deliver PV systems into large-roof buildings. Commercial director, Brian Watson believes that there are real commercial opportunities in developing PV products.
Representatives from businesses across the region and the UK, attended the Solar Flair 10 conference organised by the County Durham Development Company (CDDC) at Lumley Castle, Chester-le-Street to hear from world leading speakers about key changes and advancements in the industry.
He said: “The largest PV installation on a roof in the UK so far is 100kV and we have talked about doing it 28 times bigger.
Industry expert Phil Crosby of the Square Kilometre Array Telescope Project said there are real opportunities for the North East to benefit from the solar energy revolution. Mr Crosby, one of 17 speakers at Solar Flair, said that the North East could, and already is, playing a key role in a number of projects in this growing sector. The CA Group is one North East business that looks set to capitalise on the opportunities the sector presents. The Bishop
“We see real potential in PV. The North East is well situated to take advantage of the opportunities presented by PV, on existing building stock and some of the opportunities that are likely to come up in the North East.” Another business that has already tapped into photovoltaics is Romag Ltd. Kevin Webster, managing director, was one of the speakers at the event. He said there has been a real step change in the business since the Government introduced its feed-in tariff, but that the region needs a simple, open and transparent business support system, to help it take advantage of the opportunities that exist.
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Mr Webster, said: “There is a lot of scope for the North East in this sector. “This is an industry that will be here for a long time to come. There needs to be investment in businesses in this sector that have a long term future here in the North East.” The event was attended by representatives from the Centre for Renewable Energy at Durham University, London South Bank University, and the Electronics, Sensors and Photonics Knowledge Transfer Network (ESP-KTN). The event, which was organised by CDDC on behalf of the event’s financial backer ESP-KTN, came as the Government stepped up its drive to channel more solar-generated power into the national grid. Speakers at the event explored how government incentives could present fresh opportunities for the sector, as well as examining how solar power could be used in sectors such as construction, space technology and power generation.
CDDC’s managing director Stewart Watkins said: “The conference brought together leaders on the frontline of the solar energy revolution, and presented a unique opportunity for us to profile the North East, and its businesses to national and international audience. “There are vast opportunities that exist in this sector, that this region is well placed to take advantage of, and showcasing the facilities and infrastructure we benefit from in this corner of the country will go some way towards positioning County Durham and North East England as a location of choice for businesses in this sector in the future.” Alongside Mr Watkins, other speakers at the event included representatives from the UK’s national flagship printable electronics facility PETEC, based at NETPark, County Durham, Romag plc, Devereux Architects and Spectrolab Boeing, among others. For more information please visit www.solarflair10.com.
INVESTING IN INNOVATION Northstar’s professional venture capital team backs ambitious companies with strong prospects throughout the North East of England. Northstar’s three funds represent a vital boost for both talented individuals that want to move ahead with new ideas and existing businesses looking to achieve their full potential: £15m Finance For Business North East Proof of Concept Fund – supporting innovative technology projects with investments of between £20k and £100k. £20m Finance for Business North East Accelerator Fund – investing between £100k and £500k in early stage high potential enterprises. £2.4m Finance for Business North East Creative Content Fund – investing between £50K and £250k in commercial creative opportunities. The Finance for Business Proof of Concept and Accelerator funds are backed by the European Investment Bank, the European Regional Development Fund and One North East. The Finance for Business North East Creative Content Fund is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. CASE STUDY: SENSELOGIX SenseLogix has developed pioneering energy saving solutions which aim to save organisations money. The company retrofits its system into existing electrical infrastructure in offices and schools to lower carbon emissions and increase operational efficiency. The system also provides user level information to help engage energy users and improve user behaviour. SensLogix has recently secured a £1M investment round, including a contribution from Northstar Ventures, which backed the company on behalf of the Finance for Business North East Accelerator Fund. The investment will help SenseLogix progress its innovative product line and realise its commercial potential. Reducing energy in the built environment is an expanding focus area for organisations, making SenseLogix a perfect fit for the aim of the Accelerator Fund which has been set up to help companies invest in their future growth plans and succeed. Creating a boost for north east manufacturing, SenseLogix has engaged with Connor Solutions, an electronic services provider based in Houghton le Spring, who will manufacture components for a range of intelligent products that will monitor and save electrical waste. As part of its expansion drive, operations will be managed in-house from SenseLogix’s new premises in Newton Aycliffe. This year, SenseLogix won an award at the Innovation & Sustainability Awards for ‘Best Innovation in Green Products or Services’ and also announced a product partnership with Marshall Tufflex, a leading provider of cable management products.
CASE STUDY: REINNERVATE Earlier this year, Northstar led an investment round which saw Reinnervate Limited receive over £1.6m of funding. Reinnervate, a spin-out biotechnology company, emanated from research conducted at Durham University. It develops new and innovative ways to manage the growth and function of cultured cells. Its technologies have multiple applications and are particularly relevant to the control of stem cell differentiation and engineering tissues in in-vitro cell culture. Northstar has supported the company throughout its growth with investments in 2008 and 2009 through its Co-Investment Fund. Further investment through the Finance for Business North East Accelerator Fund has helped progress the launch of alvetex®, a unique scaffold which enables cell culture to grow in 3-dimensions in the lab. 3D cell cultures are more akin to the way cells grow in tissues in the human body than conventional 2D cell culture technologies where cells grow in flat sheets. The use of alvetex® derived 3D cell cultures is expected to provide greater insight into how cells behave in the body in response to external factors (such as drug candidates) than is currently possible with existing technologies. Reinnervate has also announced the appointment of Durham based Classic Industries Europe for the commercial assembly and packaging of alvetex® plates. Reinnervate will manufacture alvetex® at its new purpose-built research and production facility at NETPark near Sedgefield. The final product will be assembled by Classic Industries Europe at its production facility in nearby Barnard Castle, then blister packed and sterilised in preparation for distribution and sale. Reinnervate has already begun discussions with major distributors of cell culture products in the UK and overseas to sell alvetex®. Northstar’s new funds provide an exciting opportunity for ambitious north east enterprises to access the development capital they need to get started and grow. Northstar’s experienced and approachable team are always keen to hear from innovative and creative entrepreneurs looking to develop their businesses and succeed. Please contact: Northstar Ventures - Maybrook House, 27-35 Grainger Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 5JE. Tel 0191 229 2770 email@example.com www.northstarventures.co.uk
APPROVAL GIVEN FOR ONSHORE TEST RIGS North East renewables test centre Narec has been granted planning permission for three new onshore test rigs to be built in Blyth, Northumberland. The county council gave approval for: n
Project Nautilus, a 3MW drive train test rig, will allow Narec to perform certification activities and reliability and performance appraisal of new marine devices. Based around the existing dry docks, there will be no comparable open-access R&D facilities elsewhere in the world. The project is supported by the Government, One North East and the European Regional Development Fund 2007-13.
n A new 100m blade test facility to accelerate the development of new blade designs before they are
taken offshore. It will be the largest of its type in the world and expands on Narec’s existing blade testing capability developed over the past five years. The new facility is jointly funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (£11.5m) and Regional Development Agency One North East (£3.5m).
n Project Fujin will be the world’s largest offshore wind drive train test facility rated at 15MW. It will test whole power systems under realistic conditions. Funding for the build of a major offshore wind turbine component and drive train testing rig has the support of the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) and One North East.
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FIRST SWITCH EV CARS HIT THE ROAD IN NORTH EAST ENGLAND North East England’s unique Switch EV electric vehicle demonstration project was officially launched at Nissan’s test track on Wearside. Thirty-five new vehicles made by North East companies are being made available to organisations, individuals and car clubs across the region. They include the Nissan LEAF, the Avid CUE-V, the Liberty E-Range, and the Smith Electric Vehicles Edison Minibus and Taxis. Switch EV is one of eight projects running in the UK, supported by the Technology Strategy Board’s £25m Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle’s Demonstrator Programme in partnership with the Department for Transport (DfT). The investment allows the demonstration and development of new vehicle platforms and components to stimulate the electric vehicle market. The first organisation to take the CUE-V on trial was Narec, the National Renewable Energy Centre for the UK and six of its employees will trial the vehicle over the next six months, using a solar PV charging canopy at its their head office in Blyth. Narec’s Director of Electrical Networks, Alex Neumann, said: “Electric vehicles are set to play an important role in both our transport and power systems of the future. Narec is well
placed to be involved in these trails to help the market to better understand the technology and will use the trial to analyse usage patterns, energy consumption and vehicle performance.” The project has developed alongside the Plugged in Places scheme, which will see 1,300 charging points installed across the North East over the next three years. Drivers trialling cars will also benefit from the North East’s ‘Charge Your Car’ scheme, which will issue personal electronic tags for charge posts all around the region, accessing free parking whilst charging. The website www.chargeyourcar.org. uk will provide information. The Charge Your Car service is the first of its kind in the UK and since it went live in October has attracted large amounts of interest. Dr Colin Herron, Manufacturing and Productivity Manager at One North East, said: “This is the beginning of a new era of lowcarbon transport in the UK. From now on, electric vehicles will become an increasingly common sight and we are proud that North East companies are flying the flag for this dynamic new industry.”
MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH ON OFFSHORE WIND DEVELOPMENT European governments have signalled the next stage in the development of offshore wind.
we are to connect up our massive offshore wind potential and integrate it into European Markets.
A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by ten European ministers from countries bordering the North Sea.
“The agreement is a vital first step forward in agreeing the rules of the game without which investment cannot happen.”
The Memorandum covers an agreement to develop an offshore electricity grid enabling interconnection between continental, offshore and British energy resources.
The ministers from nine EU member states and Norway have agreed to start working on regulatory and technical issues, as evidence suggests that sourcing electricity from a wider European geographical pool of generators can increase use of renewable electricity and drive down cost to the consumer.
Among those welcoming the decision is RenewableUK, the UK ’s leading renewable energy trade association. Dr Gordon Edge, RenewableUK’s Director of policy said: “Large scale interconnection with our European neighbours is vital if THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
SCIENTISTS HELP SHAPE A GREEN FUTURE FOR EGYPT Experts from the North East are helping to develop a Green Code to ensure the sustainability of buildings in Egypt. Northumbria University’s Sustainable Cities Research Institute is working with the Housing and Building National Research Centre in Cairo to develop the ratings system. The Green Pyramid Rating System will measure the sustainability of buildings using indicators including carbon use, indoor air quality, heat loss and materials. Professor Dave Greenwood, Associate Dean (Research) in the School of the Built and Natural Environment and Director of the Sustainable Cities Research Institute, said: “Winning the contract to help develop Egypt’s sustainability rating system is a real coup for the University and is very impactful. Not only will it become that country’s standard rating system but other Arab League countries could adopt the same standard.“
In addition, a model has been developed to assist architects and other consultants with the issue of sustainable design in Egypt. The ‘Sustainable Design Process Model’ has been based on work by award-winning international architectural practice Devereux Architects, who have been collaborating with Northumbria in the development. Professor Greenwood said: “In effect, we have designed a process model which will offer guidance to built environment consultants in Egypt on how to build sustainably and this will cross-reference with the Green Pyramid Rating System “A key challenge for architects across the world is to ensure that buildings designed now and in the future are the most energy-efficient while still meeting the needs of the people who occupy them. It’s an accolade that Northumbria University is at the cutting edge of this agenda and engaged in such impactful work.’’
FAMILY FOOD SUPPORT INSPIRES SOFTWARE SUCCESS A North East entrepreneur has secured funding to turn the software he created to help a family member’s battle with an eating disorder into the UK’s first and only online diet programme not aimed at dieters.
– which helps budding entrepreneurs develop their software businesses before presenting their ideas to a panel of investors – with connecting him to the sources of funding he needed to turn his idea into a business.
Newcastle-based Paul Dayan is now working full time on preparing PlanMyFood, an online service helping people with medical conditions like diabetes, irregular cholesterol and eating disorders monitor their diet.
“Software Ventures is like a writer going to an agent rather than a publisher with their book. If a publisher gets your book through the post unsolicited the chances are they’ll just ignore it no matter how good it is – but if the book comes to them from someone they know only brings them the best products, they know it’s something worth looking at,” he said.
PlanMyFood came about when Paul, who has worked in software for over 30 years, designed a software programme to help a family member battling an eating disorder monitor their calorific intake. Paul used his software skills to develop a small desktop programme, before realising that the software he had designed had commercial potential. “It just occurred to me that all the existing online diet services were aimed at slimmers, I’d come up with something completely new” he said. “Nothing out there was aimed at people who need to manage their diet but aren’t trying to lose weight. Not just people with medical conditions, but sports people following a specific nutrition programme or parents making sure their children are eating healthily.” PlanMyFood could eventually bring together up to 100,000 foods to show users what nutrition they are getting from the meals they eat compared to the nutrition they need, and as well as allowing then to track and set targets for things like their blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels. Paul has now secured Proof of Concept funding to develop the software, with a view to the site being up and running by summer 2011. He was supported by Sunderland Software City, the regional initiative supporting the growth of the software industry in the North East, and credits their Software Ventures programme
He was also supported by Software City’s Intelligence Service which provides rapid market research to help new software businesses better understand their market, customers and competitors in as little as 48 hours. Bernie Callaghan, Sunderland Software City’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Sunderland Software City is all about taking the best software ideas in the North East and giving the people behind them the support to turn those ideas into profit-making products. “Paul has come up with a unique and ground-breaking piece of software, not to mention one which could have a huge impact on the quality of life of a lot of people, and we’re delighted to have been able to help him get his business off the ground”. For more information about Sunderland Software City visit www.sunderlandsoftwarecity.com, get in touch on info@ sunderlandsoftwarecity.com or 0845 872 8575 or follow @ sunsoftcity on Twitter. 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.
STEM CELLS AND REGENERATIVE MEDICINE Given their unique regenerative abilities, stem cells offer new potential for treating diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Conventional treatments for patients have been based on either surgery or drug therapy, treating conditions and illnesses that result largely from ageing. Stem cell science can help doctors predict and prevent illnesses long before they occur and the North East is rapidly becoming a world leader in the field. Durham and Newcastle Universities have come together with their related NHS Trusts and a range of other partners to form the North East England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI). Their work looks at a range of stem cell types and scientists and clinicians are working together on developments that can be used in a real-life medical setting to transform lives.
Spin-out companies have already been created to develop the technologies and these are attracting industrial partners. These facilities will put the North East at the forefront of stem cell science nationally and internationally in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, human genetics, reproductive medicine, drug discovery and biopharmaceutical bioprocessing. Large elements of the work are built upon the success of the International Centre for Life, in Newcastle, which has brought together different disciplines of scientists and clinicians with ethicists, social scientists, public educators and commercialisation agents.
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TOP RIGHT: Researchers from the Newcastle Cancer Centre at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research demonstrating strawberry DNA extraction at the Big Bang North East BOTTOM RIGHT: Metro Centre shoppers examine stem cells down microscopes MAIN: Brain Awareness week 2010, credit Raoul Dixon / North News & Pictures Ltd
BRINGING SCIENCE TO LIFE Newcastle Biomedicine prides itself on both its academic excellence and the impact of its science on the health and wealth of the region. As an Academic – NHS Partnership between Newcastle University and the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, embracing other academic institutions and NHS Hospitals across the North-East, we are proud of the work that we do with wider stakeholders to make a difference. Below are just three examples of the kind of activities we are involved in. CANCER RESEARCH Over the last twelve months, Researchers at the Newcastle Cancer Centre at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research have been out en masse to help raise awareness of their ground breaking work in the fight against cancer. In early December 2010, the Centre hosted its first ever Cancer Research Practical Course giving AS level students from across the North East the opportunity to go “behind the scenes” and experience what life as a cancer researcher is really like. Students took part in four workshops across the day learning about the polymerase chain reaction and electrophoresis, western blotting, tissue culture, survival assays, data analysis, the theory of DNA damage and repair, PARP inhibitors, drug design & synthesis and ethics surrounding cancer research. From demonstrating DNA extraction using strawberries at community events, to opening up the Newcastle Cancer Centre to the public through a series of Lab Tours, the Research Team are committed to building and developing a strong link with the region in which it’s based. STEM CELLS NESCI, the regional stem cell initiative, staged another of its regular Stem Cell Weekends in October in collaboration with the Centre for Life.
The event took place at the MetroCentre. Shoppers were offered the chance to discover more about stem cells as they passed by. A variety of activities and exhibits, including microscopes and a stem cell jigsaw, were used to explain what stem cells are, how they’re being used in research and why people use them. Scientists from NESCI guided people through the exhibits to answer questions about their research and life as a scientist. Past events have taken place at different locations in the North East, to reflect the fact that NESCI is a regional collaboration that involves Durham University, Newcastle University and local NHS Trusts. Each Weekend has had a slightly different focus to reflect cutting-edge issues in the field at the time – from cytoplasmic hybrids (“cybrids”) to stem cell tourism – and reflect the broad range of research done in the region. BRAIN AWARENESS The Institute of Neuroscience is committed to bringing the excitement of brain science into the wider community. Whether it is hosting public lectures and innovative art exhibits or running workshops for schoolchildren, we aim to communicate our research in fun and interesting ways to diverse audiences throughout the year. A major event in our public engagement calendar comes in March when we celebrate Brain Awareness Week. Each year we develop different activities to mark this global campaign to increase public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research. In 2009 we organised a site-specific art installation at Tynemouth Station and a symposium looking at the effects of plants on the brain; while 2010 saw a “science meets dance” workshop inspired by research into bird behaviour and an interactive exhibit on new technologies, including the opportunity for participants to control computer games using only the electrical signals from their brains. www.ncl.ac.uk/biomedicine
Samantha Davison - Managing Director
SUPPORTING SCIENCE AND HEALTHCARE COMPANIES Science and healthcare companies across the region can now access specialist marketing services from a new business that set up in March of this year specifically to support the sector. Horizonworks Marketing was established by Samantha Davidson, ex marketing manager with over 12 years experience working in strategic marketing and senior management roles for both public and private companies including Dickinson Dees, Northumbria University and the Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences (Cels). Following her time at Cels, Samantha saw a gap in the market to provide science and healthcare companies with strategic marketing support. These sectors are highly specialised and a deep understanding of the challenges involved with commercialising science and dealing with complex technological issues and commercial sensitivities is paramount. Horizonworks Marketing delivers a wide range of marketing services to healthcare and science based companies including carrying out a free ‘marketing healthcheck’ to assess the marketing needs of a business, creating marketing strategies, brand development plans, marketing materials and implementing PR, sales campaigns and online marketing campaigns. Based on the experience the team has gained in working with science and technology driven companies, one of the key areas where an injection of resource is required is sales and marketing. Many companies, especially in this economic climate, are looking to reduce their overheads but maintain a strong presence in very competitive markets. Horizonworks Marketing’s solution is to provide these businesses with an outsourced marketing department offering. The advantage to businesses of outsourcing their marketing department is that they will have access to highly qualified marketing professionals who have had the experience in managing a marketing department and have the know-how to make marketing a success and achieve the desired results. It’s a great option for start up’s, university spin outs and small businesses as it’s a risk free option that reduces capital costs for a business.
Some of Horizonworks Marketing’s current clients include regeNer8, the translational centre for regenerative medicine which brings together the work of the North of England’s top scientists with UK and international industry to advance the development of tools and technologies to accelerate therapies through to clinic. Horizonworks Marketing has been appointed via Cels Business Services Ltd (CBSL) to deliver the marketing for regeNer8. They also provide marketing strategy, PR and campaign management for leading assistive technology provider Easibathe/Easiaccess, who work exclusively within the adaptation on the delivery of daily living aids and adaptations for bathing and access solutions. Another client within the sector that they have acquired via business partner Strategies to Solutions, is Northumbria University’s Nurture Programme which is run by the School for Design Research and offers SME’s, based in the North East of England, access to skills and expertise to develop innovative solutions for the healthcare and wellbeing market. Horizonworks Marketing is also strategic marketing partner to Newcastle Science City and offers a range of marketing services to NSC’s start-up companies and existing SME’s from the science sector across Newcastle. The company has recently recruited Gaia Hudson as marketing account manager and is moving to a new city centre office at the end of December. Samantha Davidson, Managing Director at Horizonworks Marketing, said: “The North East’s science and healthcare sector is booming and it’s exciting to work with individuals and companies who are developing ground breaking science and cutting edge technologies.” If you would like to discuss how Horizonworks Marketing could help your business, or if you want a free Marketing Healthcheck contact us on 0191 269 6919 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
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DRIVING INNOVATION IN HEALTHCARE AND WELLBEING THROUGH DESIGN Research conducted by the NHS and independent organisations, has indicated that on average in the UK only 2 out of every 100 innovative healthcare related ideas go on to reach the market. Many fail due to a lack of external support through what can be a challenging journey. Northumbria University, led by its Centre for Design Research is aiming to boost those statistics in the North East.
n User-Centred Healthcare Concept Development
Building on its design, healthcare and technology innovation and development expertise, Northumbria University is delivering the unique Nurture Programme, an integrated service to North East based SME’s seeking to develop healthcare products and services.
n End User Testing (Clinical/Focus Groups)
Nurture is providing £1.6m of design led support, funded by One North East and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) over 3 years, to work with regional businesses seeking to develop products and services for the Healthcare and Wellbeing market. The programme offers North East based busiensses access to a unique, integrated design led service to encourage the development of innovative new product ideas and then provide access to the mix of necessary skills to design, develop, and ultimately manufacture and market successful Healthcare and Wellbeing products. Nurture provides a complete programme of design and development services, offering North East businesses a clear and practical development route from initial research and user needs capture through to the development of market-ready products and services. Our key services are; n Due Diligence/Feasibility and innovation modeling (including an initial review of any intellectual property opportunities and development of a strategy to inform the design of the product or service)
n Product Development (Mechanical, Electrical and Software) n Rapid Prototype Development (to quickly validate product concepts) n Clinical Testing (in collaboration with regional partners)
n Bridging support to Manufacture and Distribution Northumbria’s overarching aim is to support North East businesses grow through innovation and the development of commerically succesful Healthcare products and services that provide high value to the end user. Bruce Watson, Enterprise Development Manager for the School of Design said: “In the current economic climate, companies R&D plans and budgets are often the first area to suffer. Northumbria University’s Nurture Programme aims to ensure that the pipeline of new innovative healthcare and wellbeing ideas remains flowing in the North East. Through the HTDP, SMEs will be able to access key design and development skills coupled with funding support to ensure that they remain at the forefront of their sector”. Northumbria’s Nurture Programme is open to all SME businesses in the North East looking to develop ideas for the Healthcare and Wellbeing market. The programme will offer a range of product development services and ensure that these are accessible through funded support provided by One North East and the European Regional Development Fund. If you are a North East based business looking to develop products and services for the Healthcare and Wellbeing sector, we can help. For more information contact Bruce Watson on 0191 243 7063 or bruce.watson@northumbria .ac.uk
n Design Research and Investigation (including access to users and healthcare professionals)
‘EASI’ ACCESS TO NATIONAL CLIENTS Dunston based Easiaccess has opened a new warehousing facility in Doncaster this month as part of its growth plan to increase market share across the UK. The UK’s leading access solutions provider chose the heart of the metropolitan area for its second home over a number of other locations across the UK. Excellent transport links and connectivity to southern parts of the UK were key factors in choosing this location. Easibathe already services clients in the Doncaster area including East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Leeds City Council and Mansfield District Council. This new facility will help support clients in this region more efficiently as well as help drive new business in the southern regions of the UK. Easiaccess is an award winning company, which provides environmentally friendly access solutions, from small threshold ramps to large metal ramps, to Local Authorities, Councils, housing associations and individuals. They are the only provider in the UK to provide access solutions that are 100% recyclable and have the UK’s largest purpose built assessment area to enable customers to trial the products. Winner of the 2008 North East Small Business of the Year for Tyneside & Northumberland, Easiaccess already works with Newcastle City Council, Housing Hartlepool, Gateshead Council and South Tyneside Homes in the North East. A recent project was providing Newcastle City Library with a hoist system in the opening of their new facility in the City Centre last year.
L to R: Martin Cook and Mark Buckley
Mark Buckley, Business Development Manager at Easiaccess, comments: “We are delighted to be opening up a new facility in Doncaster. It will help open up so many doors for us in the South Yorkshire region and beyond as well as broaden our customer base and visibility across the UK. Martin Cook, Managing Director at Easiaccess, said: “Our move to Doncaster is part of a strategic move to offer extensive coverage of our products across the UK and ultimately provide our customers with a more efficient service before and after installation. We pride ourselves on having a dedicated team of experts that provide an exceptional service and having the highest quality access products for the adaptation sector in the UK. Our move to Doncaster demonstrates that despite tough economic conditions, we are still going from strength to strength and are committed to delivering a first class service to our National clients,” he adds. Over the last 3 years, Easiaccess has seen an approximate 40% increase in turnover year on year. The Doncaster facility is projected to represent an additional 20% of total business for Easiaccess over the next year, highlighting it’s an integral move for the company. Easiaccess has a sister company, Easibathe, which specialises in special needs bathing and hoist equipment. For further information on Easiaccess and Easibathe visit www.easi-access.co.uk and www.easibathe.com
The company has also recently won a contract worth over £1m with Your Homes Newcastle for the installation and provision of specialist temporary ramps and hoist bathing equipment to its Newcastle based properties. THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
THE KING’S FUND RESPONSE TO THE COMPREHENSIVE SPENDING REVIEW ‘Compared to other departmental budgets the NHS settlement is a generous one. But, while the increase in health spending meets the pledge to protect the NHS budget, an increase of 0.1 per cent a year in real terms will soon be swallowed up by cost pressures such as incremental pay drift and the increase in VAT. The net result will be a reduction in the NHS’s purchasing power. ‘This places even greater emphasis on finding the £20 billion in productivity gains targeted by the NHS’s Chief Executive – the status of this has moved from an ambition to a commitment. Our work has highlighted opportunities to improve efficiency at every level of the health system. Delivering on this represents the biggest financial challenge the NHS has ever faced but it is imperative if it is to maintain quality and avoid cutting services. ‘The £1 billion increase in grant funding for social care could provide some respite for hard-pressed local services and buys time while the Dilnot Commission works on a long-term
funding solution. But this money is not ring-fenced so there is no guarantee it will be spent on social care. ‘Used wisely, the additional £1 billion from the NHS budget to break down the barriers between health and social care provides a real opportunity to improve service delivery and save money by, for example, reducing the length of time patients spend in hospital. Again though, with the ring fence on local authority grant funding having been removed, and local government funding slashed overall, it remains to be seen whether this translates into increased funding for social care services. ‘The commitment to ring-fence funding for public health makes good on the commitment made by the Conservative Party in opposition. There is no detail though about how much funding will be provided, or where it will come from – this will presumably follow in the public health White Paper due to be published later this year.’
An architects’ impression of one of the new building planned for NETPark
ROOM TO GROW AT NETPARK The rapid expansion of the North East’s premier science park is set to continue apace after approval was given for two more buildings, capable of housing 120 staff.
The Grow-on Space scheme has already born fruit with the successful expansion of Kromek at NETPark from the Incubator into the first of the three new state-of-the-art facilities.
And the latest phase of development at the North East Technology Park (NETPark) will further enhance its growing reputation as an international hub for groundbreaking science and technology.
Kromek, which produces cutting edge imaging technology for the security, medical and industrial sectors was the first occupant of NETPark’s Incubator. It grew so quickly that much larger premises were needed relatively quickly.
Plans for the buildings, providing mixed office, laboratory and production space at NETPark in Sedgefield, have been approved by Durham County Council’s planning committee.
Stewart Watkins, Managing Director of CDDC, said: “Kromek’s growth at NETPark is proof not only of the strength of its products, but also of the potential NETPark has as a place where science and technology companies can access the right support and facilities to blossom.
County Durham Development Company, which is responsible for developing, managing and promoting NETPark on behalf of Durham County Council, plans to expand the scope of the science park to not only cater for fledgling companies, but also to encourage growing firms and major investors to locate there. The expansion is part of NETPark’s Grow-on Space project, which comprises three new buildings on the site, to ensure there are suitable premises available to companies which have developed at its Incubator facilty and are ready to expand.
“We want to replicate Kromek’s success with other companies. To do that we must ensure we have the capacity at NETPark to support them – that means having the right premises.” All three buildings are being developed with funding from Durham County Council, which invested £4m, £5m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) 2007-13 and a further £1m from One North East’s Single Programme.
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Kromek’s new HQ at NETPark
IMPROVING THE WAY IN WHICH BREAST CANCER IS DETECTED NETPark-based x-ray technology specialists Kromek have announced that the company has secured a four-year contract with the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMASS), to develop an advanced system for breast cancer detection and diagnosis. The contract, which has been funded via $4m from the US National Institute for Health (NIH), is worth approximately $1.5m to Kromek, and represents one of very few scientific programmes, globally, with the potential to dramatically improve the way in which breast cancer is detected and subsequently treated. Although x-ray mammography has saved many lives and is considered the imaging mode of choice for early detection of breast cancer, one of its limitations is that the recorded image represents a three-dimensional (3D) object in a two-dimensional (2D) plane, meaning varied tissue structures e.g. normal breast tissue versus tumour tissue, can be difficult to distinguish. Kromek and NOVA possess a unique technological answer to the challenge of achieving better resolutions of breast tissue, without increasing doses of radiation for patients. Chief Executive Arnab Basu said “We are extremely excited by this contract’s potential to significantly advance clinical diagnostics, in the field of breast cancer detection, and potentially way beyond. The programme is at an early stage, but to be working with UMASS on behalf of the NIH is proof of the unique technological advantages Kromek and NOVA offer, and the contribution we can make to improved detection systems in the medical field.”
Dr. Stephen Glick, Professor of Radiology at UMASS, commented: “UMASS is one of the world’s few research groups investigating the use of x-ray CT imagers for use in breast cancer detection and diagnosis. It was therefore essential that we selected the most innovative and cutting-edge partners to join the programme. “The modality we are using, which combines photon counting and cone-beam CT imaging, holds unique promise for the medical imaging market. We are looking forward to working together with Kromek and NOVA towards a solution that could change the way breast cancer detection is carried out for many years to come.” Rising incidence of breast cancer in industrialised as well as developing nations is a principal factor influencing growth in the mammography market. One of the key drivers for growth in the market would be an introduction of digital and new modalities in the mammography market. The US mammography equipment market is forecast to be worth $585m per annum by 2015. The contract lends further weight to our presence in the medical imaging market, following the announcement earlier this month about our work with Siemens on CT imaging development in Germany and the US.
€2M SECURED FOR POINT OF NEED DIAGNOSTICS Enterprise Europe Network North East (EEN) has helped to secure grant finance totalling €2m for a local SME, Selective Antibodies Ltd. It will be used to further extend the capabilities of their innovative platform technology for the detection of small molecules, to a portable, hand held detection device. ABOUT SELECTIVE ANTIBODIES The UK based diagnostics company have developed a new platform technology that promises to overcome the key technological problems central to the production of high performance, point of need systems, for the detection of small target molecules. These can include; medicaments, natural and unnatural toxins (such as fungal toxins and pesticides), forensically important substances and those of importance to the environmental, food, beverage and water industries. The aim of Selective Antibodies has been to bring the clear advantages of speed, simplicity, convenience and precision of immunodiagnostic systems (as seen so clearly in the home pregnancy test) to the rapid, reliable detection of low molecular weight substances – for which there is a potentially massive market. The company has successfully achieved and opened up a wealth of new opportunities. HOW EEN HELPED TO SECURE FUNDING Selective Antibodies requested assistance to secure grant finance in order to further the research and development of their detection platform technology. Working closely with Selective Antibodies to fully understand their technology, business strategy and objectives, the EEN team identified appropriate regional, national and European funding sources. EEN then helped to create an engagement model that would support Selective Antibodies with EU Framework Programme funding (FP7).
VALUE CREATED EEN North East helped Selective Antibodies Ltd to: n Secure €2m finance from EU FP7 finance and £100K from GRD n Move the technology platform towards revenue generation stage n Secure grant finance which lowered risk for potential investors n Safeguard 4 jobs
submission of the proposal. The project was awarded an overall grant of €3.2m, of which, Selective Antibodies was awarded €1.2m. Furthermore, EEN helped Selective Antibodies to strategically integrate into another EU FP7 nanotechnologybased consortium, which involves 21 partners and received €21m, of which, €680k was awarded to Selective Antibodies Ltd. Professor Self, CEO of Selective Antibodies Ltd, said “The professionalism, knowledge and clear focus of the EEN team has been outstanding during this whole process and has been critical in our competing successfully to bring these highly competitive awards into the North East of England”. . EEN SERVICES Enterprise Europe Network North East of England provide bespoke, hands on assistance in developing R&D proposals for businesses, to successfully secure funding from public and private sources including EU Framework Programme Seven, central government and local public bodies. For more information about Enterprise Europe Network North East visit www.een-northeast.co.uk
With EEN’s help, a strong proposal that aimed to develop a portable, real time device was composed for an FP7 submission. EEN provided assistance in; the shaping of the project, formation of the budget, building the consortium of partners and final
EXPLOSIVE RESEARCH CASTS NEW LIGHT ON SUPERNOVAS A team of Canadian physicists have mimicked a supernova -- an explosion of a star -- in miniature. The scientists from the University of Toronto and Rutgers University had been looking at a type of supernova where the detonation starts with a flame ball. Stephen Morris, a University of Toronto physics professor, said: “We created a smaller version of this process by triggering a special chemical reaction in a closed container that generates similar plumes and vortex rings.
“It is extremely difficult to observe the inside of a real exploding star light years away so this experiment is an important window into the complex fluid motions that accompany such an event. The study of such explosions in stars is crucial to understanding the size and evolution of the universe.” The work was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
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IMPROVED TESTING METHOD FOR AUTISM American researchers at the University of Utah and the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital say they have developed the best test for autism to date. Able to detect the disorder in with 94 per cent accuracy, the test uses MRI scanning to measure deviations in brain circuitry. The researchers believe it could one day replace the subjective test now used to identify the disorder and lead to a better understanding of autism and better treatment and management.
Lead author Nicholas Lange, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Neurostatistics Laboratory at McLean, said: “This is not yet ready for prime time use in the clinic yet, but the findings are the most promising thus far.” Senior author Janet Lainhart, MD, Principal Investigator of the research at the University of Utah, said: “We have new ways to discover more about the biological basis of autism and how to improve the lives of individuals with the disorder.”
TEST COULD PROVIDE ADVANCED WARNING OF EARTHQUAKES Spanish university researchers have come up with ways of better predicting earthquakes. The team from the Universidad Pablo de Olavide (UPO) and the Universidad de Sevilla found patterns of behaviour that occur before earthquakes on the Iberian peninsula. Francisco Martínez Álvarez, co-author of the study and a senior lecturer at the UPO, said: “Using mathematical techniques, we have found patterns when medium-large earthquakes happen, that is, earthquakes greater than 4.4 on the Richter scale.”
The research, published by the journal Expert Systems with Applications, is based on data compiled by the Instituto Geográfico Nacional on 4,017 earthquakes between 3 and 7 on the Richter scale that occurred on the Iberian Peninsula and in the surrounding waters between 1978 and 2007. The team says it can now forecast medium to large seismic movements when such circumstances coincide. Martinez Alvarez said: “The results are promising, although I doubt we will ever be able to say that we are capable of forecasting an earthquake 100% accurately.”
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THAT’S YOUR LOT! The planet can not sustain any further expansion in the number of industrialised fisheries, according to research study led by University of British Columbia researchers. Also involving the National Geographic Society, the study reveals that fisheries expanded at a rate of one million sq. kilometres per year from the 1950s to the end of the 1970s. The rate of expansion more than tripled in the 1980s and early 1990s -- to roughly the size of Brazil’s Amazon rain forest every year. According to the study, the expansion of fisheries between 1950 and 2005 started from the coastal waters off the North Atlantic and Northwest Pacific and stretched southwards into the Southern Hemisphere at a rate of almost one degree latitude per year. It was accompanied by a five-fold increase in catch, from 19 million tonnes in 1950, to a peak of 90 million
tonnes in the late 1980s, and dropping to 87 million tonnes in 2005, according to the study. Wilf Swartz, a PhD student at UBC Fisheries Centre and lead author of the study, said: “The decline of spatial expansion since the mid-1990s is not a reflection of successful conservation efforts but rather an indication that we’ve simply run out of room to expand fisheries. Daniel Pauly, co-author and principal investigator of the Sea Around Us Project at UBC Fisheries Centre, said: “While many people still view fisheries as a romantic, localized activity pursued by rugged individuals, the reality is that for decades now, numerous fisheries are corporate operations that take a mostly no-fish-left-behind approach to our oceans until there’s nowhere left to go.”
RECRUITMENT COMPANY SUPPORTS BUSINESS EXPANSION North-East recruitment company TechConsult UK has been called in to help a Teesside business which has embarked on a dramatic expansion plan. TechConsult UK Ltd, based at The Wilton Centre near Redcar, Teesside, has been appointed to work with Stockton-based TAS Engineering as it seeks to double its workforce. The arrangement happened after Recruitment Consultant Daniel Hanafin, from TechConsult UK, met representatives of TAS Engineering at a networking event. TAS Engineering, which provides specialist solutions in electrical, instrument, control, automation and safety engineering, was recently acquired by American company GSE Systems and plans to expand from 30 employees to as many as sixty in the next three years. TAS employs highly skilled and qualified technical and design staff in electrical, instrumentation, control and automation engineering.
TechConsult UK, which operates within the offshore, fabrication and maintenance, process, shipbuilding, and civil engineering industries, has been able to draw on its large database of skilled workers from all over the UK, many from the North-East, as well as some from abroad. Daniel Hanafin said: “We are delighted to be working with TAS Engineering as it expands. We have many skilled people on our books and know that they will be able to help the company to expand in the months and years to come.” TechConsult UK Managing Director Steve Guest said: “Projects like this are exactly what TechConsult UK is all about. We specialise in giving companies access to the kind of skilled people that they need.” Kristine Grey, Sales and Marketing Manager for TAS Engineering, said: “We chose TechConsult UK because of the level of service that they provide.”
TechConsult UK has already placed one employee with the company and TAS Engineering is considering a number of other skilled workers on the recruitment company’s book as it seeks to fill a number of technical and engineering posts.
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BREAKING THAT AWKWARD SILENCE It’s that awkward moment that we all know. There you are, sitting in a bar with on a first date and you do not know what to say. Well, worry no more because now your bar mat can break the ice for you. A group of computer scientists from Newcastle University have developed a way of using an interactive bar surface and camera-based technology which means specially-designed mats can communicate. When the mats are placed on the bar they ‘chat’ to each other in the form of text messages - the words scrolling across the surface like television news bulletins. The aim is that what they say will prompt conversation between those at the table. The mats were developed by PhD students from the university’s Culture Lab with the system being built by Tom Bartindale and Jack Weeden. Tom said: “The idea is that the mats gain a personality when placed on the bar - some are funny, some are naughty, some are scared of other mats and some are out to talk to everyone. “This is a twist on meeting new people in a public space. I think most of us feel quite self-conscious and uncomfortable about starting a conversation with a stranger so what our mat does is make that first move and also provides a talking point.”
Tom says the group first came up with the idea while they were sat in a bar in Germany. He said: “We were looking around at all these isolated groups and started thinking about how we could get them talking to each other. The interactive beer mats started off as a bit of fun and then we realised their potential for bringing people together.” The technology works by using cameras to sense the positions of traditional beer mats that have been printed with markers on their underside. The conversation starters have been drawn from phrases including humorous chat up lines, serious questions and lighthearted banter. When a drink mat is removed, other mats will comment on this, and encourage conversation with new “unknown” mats. Tom said: “In general, technology tends to kill conversation and trigger quite anti-social behaviour – we bury ourselves in our text messaging, iPods or computer screens and never even look up to see who’s standing next to us. “The focus of our work is to use technology to encourage interaction and relationships. We want these very public text messages to break the ice and make people laugh.”
TIGERS AND POLAR BEARS ‘HIGHLY VULNERABLE TO ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE’ Large predators are much more vulnerable than smaller species to environmental changes, such as over-hunting and habitat loss, because they have to work so hard to find their next meal, according to a new study. Scientists, including those in the North East, matched studies of predator populations to the abundance of their prey and found that the largest species, such as lions, tigers or polar bears, had much greater declines in population due to diminishing food supplies than smaller species, such as weasels or badgers. The review of studies of eleven species of carnivores by researchers from Durham University and the Zoological Society of London was published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters. Dr Phillip Stephens, from the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham University, said: “We found that the largest species exhibited a five to six fold greater decrease in relative abundance in response to a decrease in their prey.
“It’s hard work being a large predator roaming and hunting across extensive areas to find food. The apparent vulnerability of tigers and polar bears to reductions in the availability of prey may be linked to the energetic costs of being a large carnivore.” The research has implications for the conservation of large carnivore species, which seem to be especially vulnerable to environmental threats and changes in the abundance of prey. Dr Chris Carbone, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Zoology, the Zoological Society of London, said: “This study helps us to understand why large carnivores are particularly sensitive to environmental disturbance and why the protection and conservation of their habitat and, in particular, of their prey, are so important to global initiatives to save large carnivores in the wild.”
THE SCIENCE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE
CASTING LIGHT ON A DISTANT GALAXY North East scientists have helped confirm that a recentlydiscovered distant galaxy is the most remote object in the Universe ever observed. The galaxy, which was first spotted by the Hubble space telescope, was seen as it would have appeared 600 million years after the Big Bang, according to research published in the journal Nature.
observations of a galaxy whose light is difficult to see because of a hydrogen fog that filled the Universe at the time. Matt Lehnert, of the Observatoire de Paris, lead author of the paper reporting the results, said: “We have confirmed that a galaxy spotted earlier using Hubble is the most remote object identified so far in the Universe.”
That was when the Universe, which is 13.7 billion years old, was only four per cent of its present age, according to the European team of astronomers led for the UK by scientists from the Universities of Durham and Bristol, working with the UK Astronomy Technology Centre.
Confirming the distances to such faint and remote objects is a huge challenge that currently can only reliably be done using spectroscopy from very large ground-based telescopes. The difficulty is that by the time the young galaxies’ brilliant light reaches Earth it appears very faint and falls mostly in the infrared part of the spectrum.
Using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, the team measured the distance to the remote galaxy by analysing its faint glow, the first confirmed
Co-author of the paper, Simon Morris, from Durham University, said: “These observations are clearly at the cutting-edge of what is possible with current instrumentation.”