Accolades for innovation

Accolades for innovation

PA147/09

Two original and exciting commercial projects based on pioneering research at The University of Nottingham have been shortlisted for international awards for innovation.

The projects, ‘Promethean Particles Ltd — Formulating solutions with nanomaterials’ and ‘Microwave Exfoliation of Vermiculite’, made the shortlist (of 14) from more than 70 other entries from institutions across the world. The Impact Awards are staged by the UK’s leading body of research commercialisation professionals, UNICO. The awards recognise and celebrate the process of turning knowledge and expertise from research centres into real commercial products and services that benefit society and the economy.

Entries for the awards had to show that the project submitted had achieved, or had the potential to achieve, public impact and that knowledge transfer was a crucial part of that process.

Dr Susan Huxtable, Director of Technology Transfer at The University of Nottingham, said: ”We are delighted that the University has been short-listed in two out of three categories for these new awards. It is entirely in keeping with Nottingham’s status as Entrepreneurial University of the Year. Both of these and the many other technologies arising from the University’s research base highlight the important contribution that academia has to make to the future prosperity of UK plc.”

In the Business Impact category Promethean Particles is a recent spin-out company from The University of Nottingham established to exploit unique nanoparticle production technology and expertise developed by Dr Ed Lester and his colleagues. Inorganic nanoparticles are used in diverse fields such as electronics, cosmetics, biomedical, energy and optoelectronics. During the first year of operation the company has successfully worked with global corporations based in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan. Initial orders have enabled staffing to grow and will underpin future growth.

In the Environmental Impact category an innovative process technology is generating significant market interest. The global vermiculite (a naturally occurring mineral widely used in fireproofing and horticultural markets) industry is a significant energy consumer that derives from the requirement to ‘exfoliate’ the raw material into the low weight-high volume product. Traditionally this has been carried out in highly inefficient gas or oil-fired furnaces. Whilst microwave processing has shown significant promise in reducing energy consumption, a commercial process has never been developed. Professor Sam Kingman and his team in the National Centre for Industrial Microwave Processing have worked closely with the Technology Transfer Office to successfully develop a unique process technology that consumes significantly less energy whilst also enabling wider environmental benefits such as reduced dust creation and compact footprint.

Chair of Unico, Professor David Secher said, “Unico is delighted to be associated with these exciting new awards. The range of entries evidences the depth and breadth of knowledge transfer that is taking place and show how that knowledge transfer is driving innovation. The Impact Awards will raise the profile of the projects and the teams.”

Judging Panel Chair, Dr David Owen, added, “It’s exciting to be invited to chair the judging panel of The Impact Awards in its inaugural year. It was a tough challenge to decide which entries should be shortlisted and even harder to pick the winners. Without the combined skill and expertise of the independent judging panel; this task would have been much more difficult.”

Winners of The Impact Awards will be announced at The Impact Awards ceremony, held at the Unico Conference Gala Dinner, Brighton Racecourse, on Thursday evening, June 11 2009.


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