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50 Innovation 50 Report


The Midlands is full of Innovators. Innovation is no longer the preserve of a select few. It is now the key to unlocking cross-sector business growth and driving UK plc.

The Midlands is staying true to its industrial heritage while at the same time remaining truly international in its ambition.

This is what Mills & Reeve set out to celebrate when launching the inaugural Innovation 50, an in-depth index of some of the Midlands’ most forward thinking companies. After a series of intense judging sessions with the Innovation 50 expert panel, where the diverse range of applications from every corner of the region were reviewed, we’re confident that we have achieved just that.

It has been fantastic to see the truly global reach of many of the Innovation 50. Businesses are seizing opportunities within a global marketplace and reaping the rewards this international market brings. Equally, innovators who focus their investment closer to home are making an important difference to their local communities, creating new opportunities and fostering engagement.

From automotive to animation, skills to sports – the sheer breadth of the 50 shows that the Midlands is not only the heart of British manufacturing, but also a hub of innovation for all sectors of the regional economy. With such a wide range of businesses making it into the report, the themes that underpin these innovation success stories vary considerably. Technology and communication remain areas of high consumer demand, but innovation in this great region goes beyond the smartphone screen. Innovators are building new products, streamlining services and disrupting established processes in all areas of business.

I hope you will join me both in celebrating the diversity of Midlands industry and taking inspiration from some of the region’s most forward-thinking innovators. I would like to thank the judges for the time and insight they gave during our panel sessions, and all of the businesses who took the time to enter. You made this a truly fascinating and rewarding process. Finally, my congratulations to every business in the Innovation 50, with special mentions for Lontra, our Business of the Year, and Sales-i, our Exporter of the Year. Steve Allen Mills & Reeve

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Methodology In April this year, businesses across the Midlands were invited to put themselves forward to be recognised among the 50 most innovative organisations in the region. Over the following two months, innovationfifty. com received a constant flow of applications from a diverse range of businesses, each setting out why their innovative approach deserved to be featured in our in-depth report.

Over three judging sessions in July, an expert panel made up of some of the region’s top business leaders scored each entry on innovation and impact. After some lively discussions, each member of the panel scored the entries individually, giving commendations to those organisations they thought demonstrated a creative approach to solving business challenges. During this process we reviewed the category groupings and changed some of these to reflect the breadth of entries that we recieved.

Criteria

The result?

• The starting point. What was the business trying to improve? • What’s new? How does the business’ approach deviate from common practice? • Implementation. What challenges did the business overcome to deliver the change? • Results? What was the result of the innovation for the business, their customers and the wider community?

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The Midlands’ inaugural Innovation 50.

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50 The judges

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Steve Allen Head of Birmingham Office, Mills & Reeve @Steve_D_Allen

Anita Bhalla OBE Chair, Performances Birmingham @AnitaBhalla

Paul Faulkner Chief Executive, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce @gbchamberboss

Dr David Hardman CEO, Innovation Birmingham

Immy Kaur Co-Founder and Director, Impact Hub Birmingham @ImmyKaur

Markus Keller Head of Corporate Banking Birmingham, HSBC Commercial Banking

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0 Amanda Lowe Managing Director, Story Comms @amandalowe_bham

Graham Nicoll Enterprise Advisory, KPMG UK LLP @GrahamNicoll02

Alex Turner Editor, TheBusinessDesk.com @alexicographer

Shah Zaki Founding Partner, Orbis Partners LLP

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Professor Tim Softley Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Transfer, University of Birmingham

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Retail, consumer and leisure

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Miss Macaroon

“A fantastic example of bringing together the retraining of unemployed people with a very high quality product”.

Miss Macaroon is a social enterprise with a difference, and delicious treats. Founder Rosie Ginday wanted to combine her passion for premium quality food with providing personal and professional development opportunities for young people. For every purchase of its specialist and indulgent macaroons, money is invested into its social enterprise arm, which helps many young people to achieve their lifetime goals.

Tim Softley

“Simply outstanding – social enterprise doesn’t mean mediocrity”.

“A great idea to inspire young people with a much less fortunate start in life to build confidence, skills, self-esteem and a ‘trigger’ to go on and do great things”

Steve Allen

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“I’m particularly impressed with the way they have used accessible, fun instruments as a way to open up educational opportunities for children and people generally”.

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From small music publishing company beginnings, Warwick Music Group has invented, developed, and manufactured the world’s first plastic trombone, the pBone. Launched in 2010, it has been recognised for its disruptive response to declining sales of traditional trombones, quickly rising to become the best-selling model. The success of pBone has seen the Group create the world’s first all-pTrumpet and pBuzz, entirely new creations that are getting children aged three and above playing brass on fun and engaging instruments. The expert panel praised the impact that the instruments are having on children’s music experiences worldwide.

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To date, 26 young - previously unemployed individuals have benefited from the scheme, with one securing a full-time job in the Great Western Arcade shop after making a strong impression as an apprentice. The expert panel unanimously praised the innovation behind Miss Macaroon’s enterprise, along with its significant social impact.

“Innovative material design leading to potentially huge cultural impact – affordable musical instruments for learners with a great sound!” Tim Softley

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John Lewis Community Hub

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The venue has welcomed organisations, like Cancer Research and Barnardo’s, as well as smaller community groups, such as the Birmingham and West Midlands Knitting and Crochet Guild, illustrating its far-reaching impact.

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Recognising a demand for free of charge meeting spaces for community groups and charities, retailer John Lewis has donated space to more than 180 different community groups and charities since opening its Birmingham shop in August 2015. Utilising the shop’s prominent Grand Central location, its purpose-built community hub gives groups an accessible, vibrant venue - a valuable asset for all who use it.

“Another simple idea with real impact. Big corporates don’t realise the impact of simple ideas and accessibility to their community around them like John Lewis have. They are also opening people’s eyes to John Lewis as a potential employer, not just a shopping opportunity”.

“Fantastic traction – there is a clear path for other large corporates to follow.” Markus Keller

Anita Bhalla

Loki Wine Retail is a challenging market to operate in, owing to a highlysaturated, competitive and fast-moving consumer landscape. Specifically in the fine wine market, many retailers find it difficult to provide product accessibility to all consumers, without absorbing the cost of having open bottles that may go to waste. Loki Wine found a way to unlock new opportunities for customers by increasing accessibility to fine wine. By investing in machines that extract wine without opening the bottle – the company ensures that the best wines from around the world can be sampled without the risk of any going to waste. From its Birmingham concept store, Loki Wine offers customers more than 40 options to sample before they buy.

Borroclub

Under the bold strapline ‘Ownership is dying’, Borroclub seeks to change consumer behaviour by providing an online platform to share, hire or borrow things. The business is driven by a passion to reduce unnecessary spending while building more environmentally sustainable communities. From drones to iPhone and candy floss machines to bicycles, Borroclub connects people, encourages sharing and saves them money in the process. Borroclub’s business model has already attracted partners in the commercial and not-for-profit sectors, as well as international cooperation requests from Egypt to the Czech Republic. Borroclub is set for a bright future, one that will see it consolidate and upscale its presence to achieve its potential.

The success of the venture, and its unique proposition, has seen Loki Wine expand its premises and begin progressing plans for two new stores in 2017. D

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“The level and range of entries was fantastic and it was great to see submissions from such a breadth of industries. When people think of innovation they generally think of technology companies, but what the Innovation 50 proves is that Innovation is about rethinking business models and technology is merely an enabler!� Graham Nicoll

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Science and Technology

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Transreport is improving train journeys using advanced technologies. The company was born as a result of national rail operator London Midland’s ‘Labs’ start-up collaboration scheme, set to foster and encourage new ideas to improve the delivery of rail services in the UK. Transreport’s three innovative systems: Defect Report, which allows passengers to report real-time issues on journeys such as defects, cleanliness and security; Delay Repay, enabling passengers to make compensation claims quickly and painlessly in just three clicks and Passenger Assist, an app to support those with specific needs or disabilities by letting them book assistance in advance of their journey. Since London Midland Labs, Transreport has experienced rapid growth after securing commercial contracts with a major train operator with other clients in the pipeline.

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Also a London Midland Labs innovator, Railrepay was awarded the Startup Choice Award at the end of its time on the scheme. Its automated compensation platform addresses the complicated process that many passengers face when claiming for delayed and cancelled trains, with 64% of us not bothering as a result in 2016.

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The Railrepay app, or website for non-smart phone users, allows rail customers to claim refunds quickly and easily, even automatically for season and advance ticket holders. The app also updates users on the status of their claim for an improved customer experience. The official launch of Railrepay is imminent, and its customer-led approach is showing all the right signs for success.

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Labs by London Midland

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Labs by London Midland is an initiative launched by the national rail operator to facilitate and support the creation of new technology projects. It involves innovating and engaging with passengers and developing relationships with startups on the future of travel and mobility. It is driven by the brand’s mission to offer travel customers ‘Simply Better Journeys’. The initiative sees London Midland partner with a select team of innovative startups to help them develop their ideas during a 12-week accelerator programme, where they can gain access to office space at Birmingham’s Innovation Campus and mentoring from sector experts.

The programme concludes with a Demo Day, where the collection of ideas is presented to a diverse audience, including investors, media and customers. A voting process follows, and London Midland then names the businesses that it will continue to partner with to drive their innovations forward. A number of the businesses that successfully came through the first cohort are listed in this report.

Vanti

Vanti designs intelligent buildings. Its service is based on optimising office buildings and resources to deliver more productive, sustainable and efficient workplaces. A single interface brings together safety and security systems, communications and IT, climate and light, meeting spaces and services. It’s responsive and data-driven, enabling smarter resource allocation. Reflecting the benefits of its services, Vanti has helped a client achieve 33% energy savings through responsive power systems and efficiency savings valued at £1m, as well as new revenue generated through space optimisation.

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Rightangled Diagnostics

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Spotlight: The Institute for Translational Medicine The Institute of Translational Medicine (ITM) is a place where scientists, researchers, clinicians and industry partners can come together to turn medical science into innovative patient and healthcare system applications rapidly, rigorously and seamlessly. This means that new drugs and devices with real impacts for patients go from concept to reality sooner. Striving for the next discovery in human medicine relies on pioneering innovation. But the structure that the ITM has created to enable this is also new.

Research partners bring an idea to the centre. They are encouraged to locate within the Institute, bringing them closer to the research team. And this team is one that you would not normally find collaborating so naturally – specialists in cancer, inflammation, rare diseases and bioengineering for example. This breadth and diversity of expertise means that ideas move quickly, trials are efficient and breakthroughs come more rapidly.

Spotlight: Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth describes Jaguar Land Rover as a technology business. It’s the UK’s biggest investor in research and development, and a significant proportion of the £4bn spent this year is focussed on the Midlands. Talking to JLR, it’s evident a key driver for innovation is environmental impact and sustainability.

JLR will shortly launch the I-PACE, the company’s first fully electric sports car, exclusively engineered in the Midlands. By 2020, every new car it sells will have the option of an electric or hybrid engine. JLR is also a world leader in using aluminium to build cars. This lighter metal makes for an improved driving experience, better fuel economy and lower emissions. On top of this, the use of 100% renewable energy is now standard. The organisation’s engine facility in Wolverhampton has one of Europe’s largest solar energy generating roofs. Within the context of Innovation 50, JLR is a great example of innovation as a route to improved customer experience, business sustainability and wider impact.

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Healthcare and education

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Sublime Science

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‘Mad’ Marc Wileman founded Sublime Science nine years ago to inspire the next generation of scientists through unforgettable science-themed birthday parties, workshops and online experiences. By building catapults, concocting potions and exploding experiments, the aim is to sneak learning into children’s lives when they’re having too much fun to notice.

The panel unanimously commended both the concept, which has identified a clear gap in the market, and the impact it is having on children across the UK at a time when engaging them in STEM subjects is a key focus.

“Simple and accessible to parents.”

“A far-reaching educational development engaging a million children, built on a shoestring budget. Getting children excited about science is so important for the future of this country.”

Anita Bhalla The business has expanded rapidly, achieving an average growth rate of more than 50% per annum. Developed out of a makeshift office in a spare bedroom, Sublime Science has grown to become the most popular kids’ party in the UK. Along the way, the company has won investment from BBC TV show ‘Dragon’s Den’, received recognition from No.10 Downing Street and has been awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the category of Innovation.

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Wambiz

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Safeguarding features include managed audit trails and a keyword flagging system that provides schools with the ability to monitor and mediate content and conversations. Student engagement remains an ongoing challenge in modern education. Wambiz’s Safebook platform has created a customisable product which aims to foster school and student collaboration – now being used by 60 schools.

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Located in Birmingham’s Rowley Regis, Wambiz created a student-inspired private social network that facilitates safe, efficient communication between staff and students. Developed in partnership with St Michael’s High School and West Midlands Police, Safebook delivers a secure communication platform that integrates with school systems, including live timetables, absence reporting and grade notifications.

“This has real potential to support children without access to education or burdened by family responsibilities.” Anita Bhalla

“An innovation that will really make a difference to enabling reliable communications within schools.” Tim Softley

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St George’s Park, The FA’s National Football Centre, is truly a 21st century destination, where innovative technology solutions underpin elite training facilities. The site brings together practical technologies to enhance learning, training and performance, importantly making them accessible for elite footballers and athletes, the local community and global business. Almost 2,400 coaches have passed either UEFA Pro, UEFA A or UEFA B license since the opening of St. George’s Park and 337 coaching, education, medical and referee courses have been completed. An online community of 9,600 coaches also has access to support, advice and practical resources thanks to the facility. However, despite the innovative technologies in place, none of this would be possible without service excellence and St. George’s Park is committed to service delivery and visitor satisfaction.

“It’s great to see big business supporting innovation in such a selfless way. By simply opening their doors, they are helping to foster the next generation of talent at the same time as building confidence in their community.” Anita Bhalla

This commitment ensures consistently high customer satisfaction scores, including an average of 9.18 out of 10 for overall experience.

Forensic Pathways

Forensic Pathways has spent the last 16 years developing products and methods to aid the investigation of crime. A major challenge in modern policing is managing the vast quantities of visual data extracted from devices and online sources. Until recently, investigators would trawl through images manually before attempting to attribute them to a specific individual. This process is costly, time consuming and, when the material is of a disturbing nature, it can have significant psychological impacts.

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Forensic Pathways has created a unique piece of software which automates this process by deriving an electronic signature from digital photographs. The software can then search for and retrieve other images taken on the device. This allows investigators to search and collate vast quantities of image data, attributing photographs to individuals long after they have been shared or deleted from the original device. This innovation makes the investigation process faster, more efficient and reduces its impact on investigators.

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“When you start judging, you start to realise the amount of talent out there - there were so many good entries. I find it very exciting to think that we have all this talent amongst us!� Anita Bhalla

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The team behind the Breaking Free Group recognised how inaccessibility and a limited supply of addiction rehabilitation services had created a huge unmet demand. Vulnerable people were unable to access the support they needed to break the cycle of addiction. In response, Breaking Free created an app aimed at anybody battling addiction. It builds a profile of the user, their habits and their riskiest situations – where relapses were most likely to occur. It uses this profile, along with time and location data from users’ phones to alert them when they are at a higher risk of negative behaviours. This means it can deliver timely, personalised interventions.

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Birmingham City University was extremely quick off the mark when launching the Centre for Brexit Studies, just weeks after the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. An engaging video submission showcased how the University had wasted no time in establishing a centre for debate and research into the economic, political and social impacts of Brexit.

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Maintaining this momentum, it positioned itself as a thought leader at the centre of current thinking around the previously unchartered territory of leaving the EU. Since launch, it has published reports on a range of topics including the EU environmental protection regimes, hate crime, radicalisation and social trends.

Breaking Free has helped to show marked improvements in consumption, dependence, mental health and social functioning. Using this evidence to generate business opportunities, it has built an impressive client roster including national addiction support charity Turning Point, as well as NHS England and the Department of Justice – which it helped to successfully roll out the app across the prison service.

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Burton and South Derbyshire College Burton and South Derbyshire College has a commercially focused approach that equips students with the skills required to succeed in the modern workplace. It delivers this through a programme that combines employability skills development, business partnerships and an international element - all integral to fulfilling the promise it makes to its students, the future workforce. To support this model financially the college diversified its income sources, allowing for continuous investment in its offering to students at a time when other institutions, more dependent on stagnant public funding, weren’t able to.

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NHS Dudley CCG

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Collaboration with organisations in countries such as Saudi Arabia, China, Morocco and Japan has attracted students, business connections and inward investment to the college. Student outcome statistics have risen, staff retention is higher and the educational experience on offer has become richer, more business-centric and delivers practical workplace experience in domestic and global organisations.

In a challenging economic climate for public services, innovation is critical to maintaining service levels. The NHS has long identified the need to better integrate its services. While delivery of individual services tends to be strong, the public interface can cause confusion and frustration. In Dudley, this is being addressed with the creation of a single, Multi-Speciality Community Provider, bringing services together under a single point of contact. This model is the first of its kind to get to this stage of development The established NHS model is comprised of short contracts where funds are granted according to inputs (e.g. the number of activities performed) rather than outputs, such as lowering hospital admissions. Dudley CCG changed this, instead working to a longterm contract that will remain in place for a period of ten years. This will enable a level of integration and investment far greater than the regular one-year cycle and will see funding awarded on a comprehensive set of outcomes, which it must demonstrate are being achieved. This is among the first community services models of its kind in the NHS.

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Horizon Care & Education

Move it or Lose it

Enploy

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Business services

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Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce In November 2016, a poll of West Midlands businesses revealed that 59% of people felt ill-informed about the upcoming West Midlands Mayoral Election, 49% of people were unaware it was taking place and turnout predictions stood at approximately 10%. Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce decided to do something about these worrying figures, to engage, inform and excite the city region about the West Midlands Mayor. The concept was to engage the city’s employers and their workforces. The Chamber’s Toolkit, an online resource was developed to provide businesses with the necessary tools to give staff and stakeholders the material needed for them to make an informed choice. This included template posters, social media posts, FAQs and other downloadable assets. In addition, they invited other business organisations to utilise the toolkit free-of-charge. This resulted in the Institute of Directors, the Federation of Small Businesses and several others helping to push out this message to the city. The results affirmed the Chamber’s reputation as a real influencer in the city. The campaign led to a significant spike in online mentions of the election, and the final turnout of 26% was significantly higher than predicted.

Pertemps Network Group

Pertemps’ Driving Academy is the first ever partnership between the Army and a recruitment business. With the aim of recruiting licensed, qualified LGV drivers at a time of significant national shortage, Pertemps invested in this flagship programme that incentivises a career in the Army Reserves through the offer of free training and guaranteed paid work during recruits’ spare time. Pertemps attracted widespread national and specialist media coverage as a result of this programme. Since its inception, the Academy has trained and deployed more than 1300 LGV drivers – new skilled recruits in high demand in the Army. The scheme has been awarded the Ministry of Defence Gold Award in recognition of the proactive contribution it has made to finding employment for current and former servicemen and women.

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Sales-i was founded in Birmingham by Paul Black and Kevin McGirl. These two salespeople identified a gap in the market for a sales management and insight product that would help them do their jobs more effectively. Information overload was a common problem faced by salesforces. Most technology solutions in the market were aimed at giving managers performance information rather than giving salespeople information that will help them identify opportunities and threats, spot trends in buying behaviours, and ultimately make more productive calls.

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Sales-i designed and built just that, a platform for sales teams that provides access to simple, easy to use data analytics, enabling them to make informed calls and generate stronger results. More than 9000 people now use Sales-i and the business has grown significantly, expanding to the US market within ten years. The company employs more than 100 people across its UK and Chicago offices.

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“What I found most exciting was the breadth of ideas and organisations that had applied - from deep infrastructure innovation. I found some of the infrastructure innovations, large scale companies doing things that will probably change the future of how we live, work and experience our region, fascinating.� Immy Kaur

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Digital and Creative

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Estate agent and chartered surveyor firm Fisher German created its Business Applications Development (BAD) team to help it stand out in a saturated market. Based in Ashby de la Zouch, the BAD team is tasked with generating innovative solutions for clients, strengthening relationships and building loyalty and trust by embedding Fisher German solutions into their systems. Applications developed include Linesearch, a mapping tool to prevent dangerous and costly construction accidents which occur when pipes and cables are accidentally struck. Linesearch provides construction teams with easy to access site maps, flagging potential causes of these hazards.

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Animation company Second Home Studios was being asked to deliver increasingly complex animation by its clients, but the equipment available to them externally wasn’t allowing its team be as creative as they wanted. They needed a camera rig that would allow them to create some of their most technicallyambitious stop motion projects ever. Yet, nothing suitable existed on the market, and retrofitting existing models was not ideal. In response, the team at Second Home Studios designed and built the perfect rig for themselves.

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The creation, Manta, is a miniature crane camera system with seven individually-controlled axes of movement. Manta is far beyond the industry standard and its capabilities enable the team to produce complex and sophisticated motion control animation. The business has just secured a number of national TV commissions, and expects its unique, innovative rig to play a central role in delivering the goods. The expert panel noted the pragmatism and creativity of this entry.

Another of its tools, Contour, is a map-based platform that allows helicopter inspection crews to quickly record and report sightings of unusual activity on client property such as evidence of construction work and damage to buildings. The BAD Team at Fisher German has demonstrated awareness of changing market needs as well as the ability to develop innovative, user-friendly information systems that help its clients achieve better results.

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JC Social Media

JC Social Media has delivered an innovative solution to client reporting to counter traditional boring, inefficient, documents that don’t tell clients what they need to know. Its product, Flaunt is a system integrated into users’ web browsers, allowing them to quickly capture information on screen, from any source, and send it to be added to the client’s dashboard. This removes any retrospective admin and instead allows anybody working on a client account to track the results they have generated in real time. Flaunt has improved client satisfaction by making the results JC achieves more visible to clients. It has also provided a new revenue stream, allowing it to sell to agencies looking to improve client reporting.

Air HR

Based in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, software company Air launched its integrated suite of HR tools for businesses in March 2017. Air HR integrates all of the traditionally adminheavy personnel systems, such as payroll, annual leave and performance management, and combines them behind a single user-friendly interface for employers and their employees. Workflows are simple and intuitive, eliminating the need to enter data more than once as each element is run through a centralised database. Customers are able to customise the software via bolt-on options, such as shared documents, messaging and expenses. These all integrate with the single user hub seamlessly, so new apps can be added as the business changes and its needs develop. During its first month, 400 businesses adopted Air HR and it looks set to deliver a product to help make the HR process more user-friendly for both employer and employee.

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RNF Digital Innovation

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“I think what we have seen is innovation which is not only transforming people’s businesses, but also transforming the lives and opportunities of the people who are served by those businesses.” Tim Softley

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Manufacturing, engineering and utilities

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Lontra

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The Blade Compressor replaces traditional and inefficient ‘up and down’ piston approaches to air with a circular mechanism, creating a continuous motion shown to be 21% more efficient than rival concepts. The product also delivers longer machine life and reduced maintenance costs, durability and ease of manufacture. The panel was impressed not only with Lontra’s design innovation, but also with its commercialisation of the Blade Compressor to drive business growth. As a result, the company secured a multi-million pound partnership with global manufacturer, Sulzer, leading to orders from several new clients, including Severn Trent Water.

Seeing a stagnation in the progression of compressor technology, the method of converting power stored in compressed air and gas into energy, Lontra’s Steve Lindsey made a step change in design, inventing the first clean sheet compressor in more than 80 years.

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Positive Homes

Nottingham-based Positive Homes set out to revolutionise housebuilding. It offers a different approach to the larger players in the market and a focus on super energy-efficient homes, developing difficult sites and investing in innovation and careers for apprentices. Its intention is to demonstrate the feasibility of constructing new eco-efficient properties to an incredibly high standard for the same price as any new build. That means it can sell for the same price as the major housebuilders – making low energy homes the norm, not something just for Grand Designs. Many of its innovations have been designed from scratch and tailor-made for their properties, including super-insulated floor slabs, airtight walls, air-source heated hot water, solar panels, mechanical ventilation, LED lighting and more. Its first four homes have gone to market, upcoming projects have been approved and it’s well on its way to delivering its target of 500 new houses over the next four years.

“A punchy submission. The innovation is in attitude in a traditional sector, which is refreshing.” Paul Faulkner

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“Very impressive in general. Their approach to collaborative working is especially admirable.”

The MIRA Technology Park is home to Europe’s largest transport technology R&D cluster and is soon be joined by a new Technology Institute, set for completion in 2018. By focusing on the development of skills and technology concurrently, it is fostering the next generation of products and talent capable of driving the evolution of automotive technology and, ultimately, shaping the journeys of the future.

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HORIBA MIRA is a hotbed of innovation. In the last two years, it has been building an ecosystem to cultivate the global development and deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles. Its world class test facilities and collaborative approach to research and development (R&D) with the likes of universities, UK Government and international heavyweights such as Jaguar Land Rover, places it at the forefront of Whitehall’s Industrial Strategy, which has a core aim to make Britain a major player in the international low-carbon vehicle space.

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Off Grid Energy has created smart energy solutions for highpolluting generators and heavy machinery, effectively turning them into hybrid engines that provide significant energy and cost savings.

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Off Grid Energy

‘Off-grid’ environments like construction sites - i.e. those that do not use public mains facilities such as electricity feature energy-intensive, diesel-powered machinery that runs constantly, despite only being used in short bursts. This causes unnecessarily high noise pollution, air pollution and fuel costs. Off Grid Energy adds a battery to these units which, when fully charged, switches off the generators while still leaving power available for immediate use. When power is depleted, the generators are restarted automatically. This innovation has helped some of Off Grid Energy’s clients to achieve a 60% reduction in fuel consumption.

“A clever solution which turns inefficient assets into a smart, efficient energy systems. It’s great to see this being picked up by the industry.” Alex Turner

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Aquapak Polymers Aquapak Polymers promises to transform mainstream packaging and tackle the environmental challenges faced by organisations and individuals globally. This has seen it develop a plastic built for a circular economy, the process in which products and resources are recycled, restored and regenerated continuously for as long as possible, instead of being disposed. More than six years in the making, its innovative single layer film is twice as

strong as high-density polyethylene and offers multiple options once it reaches the end of its useful life. The material is 100% recyclable, 100% biodegradable and non-toxic in the marine environment, and can also be used in standard processing machines, easing the financial and operational pressures on manufacturers when investing in new equipment.

“This could be game-changing for the world at large, having a transformative effect on businesses and drastically reducing the impact on the environment from plastic bags and other packaging.” • H I G D

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Responding to demands from a number of manufacturers, MSA developed a new technology to increase efficiency and reduce waste during the process of joining thermoplastic pipes in the water and gas industries. Its new innovative bi-filar wire-layering machines help its clients to produce large, specialist and quality diameter electrofusion fittings that are used for joining the pipes out in the field. Beyond delivering high-cost savings for its manufacturing clients, the products that the machines generate enable a simpler, more cost-effective method of carrying out pipeline connections and repairs, with the end user benefiting from minimal interruption to gas and water supplies.

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iLockerz

iLockerz founder Ryan Slaney assembled a team of software developers and academics at Wolverhampton University to solve a problem for businesses that struggle to store and track their most valuable equipment. This collaboration delivered iLockerz, a range of secure units with personal access control and smart tags for the products stored within. Customers benefit from precise audit trails, logging user IDs and photos, in addition to details on what has been put in or taken out of each locker. A major challenge faced was how to make wireless ID tags work inside a sturdy metal casing – but the iLockerz team got past this and have taken their product to market in the UK, with an eye to international growth in the coming years. iLockerz successfully combines new technologies to provide a practical solution to a real-world problem.

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Nicklin Transit Packaging

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Are you driven by innovation? If so, we want to hear from you. We work with thousands of businesses from startups to FTSE 250 companies. Tell us about your challenges, opportunities and goals - we might be able to help. innovation50@mills-reeve.com

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Mills & Reeve presents Defying Gravity: How medium sized businesses can achieve growth ambition in the age of uncertainty.

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50 innovationfifty.com @innovation_50

Innovation 50 report  

The Innovation 50, compiled by Mills & Reeve, celebrates inspiring innovation success stories from across the UK. It features 50 businesses...

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