Innovation news in brief: Semiconductors; Digital; Engineering

Semiconductor technologies are used in devices such as tablets

World’s first compound semiconductor cluster launched

A new cluster to develop and commercialise next generation compound semiconductor technologies has been launched in the UK.

Four significant clusters based around silicon technologies already exist in Europe, but CSC – based in Cardiff - will be the first centre to build on the exciting potential of compound semiconductors.

Compound semiconductors are vital components used in many of today's high-tech applications including communications networks and devices such as smartphones and tablets.

The joint venture between IQE plc, a global supplier of advanced semiconductor wafers, and Cardiff University, is being funded by the Welsh Government.

Dr Drew Nelson, chief executive of IQE, said: “Much of the compound semiconductor technology used in devices across the world is developed is developed and manufactured in Wales. But technology evolves at a rapid pace.

“One of the big problems in the UK is that we frequently fail to take the steps needed to commercialise research and development activities through innovation and manufacturing.

“This is why we are looking to create the world’s first compound semiconductor cluster, and having Cardiff University and the UK academic infrastructure in place creates a very strong basis to enable this cluster to be formed.”

Digital technology boost for Wales

A new fund that will explore how digital technology can help innovate public services in Wales has been launched by the Welsh Government.

The £250,000 Digital Innovation Fund will be delivered by Nesta and Cardiff University’s ‘Y Lab’ - an initiative launched in July to devise and test new solutions to major public service challenges in Wales.

The fund will support public service organisations wishing to use digital technology to trial smarter and more efficient ways of working.

Examples of projects include those that use public data to better target services, or that streamline systems and processes to reduce costs and make services more accessible. 

Support provided through the fund will also include access to business advice, events, workshops and mentoring.

The fund will also be used to support the establishment of a new Digital Innovators Network, run by Y Lab, which will bring together public and private sector digital leaders to share best practice.

More information about the fund and the Digital Innovators Network can be found here

Funding available to develop UK-China research partnerships

The British Council and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) taking applications for grants to run international research workshops for UK and Chinese researchers, as part of Researcher Links.

Researcher Links bring together early-career researchers from the UK and a partner country to allow them to make international connections that can improve the quality of their research. Once funded, grants are available for early-career researchers in the UK and the partner country to attend.

The grants are funded under UK-China Research and Innovation Partnership Fund, otherwise known as the Newton Fund in the UK, a £375 million fund which, through science and innovation partnerships, promotes the economic development and welfare of poor people in partnering countries.

The Newton Fund aims to promote the economic development and welfare of either the partner countries or, through working with the partner country, to address the problems of poor people around the world.

Applications, which close on 2 December 2015, must fall into one or more of the key supported fields below:

  • Health/life sciences
  • Environmental technologies
  • Food and water security
  • Energy
  • Urbanisation

More details are available here

Engineering innovators wanted

Entries are now invited for the 2016 Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award, one of the UK’s leading accolades for engineering innovation.

Engineering businesses working on new technology that has had proven commercial success and created tangible social benefit are encouraged to enter for the awards, which offers a £50,000 cash prize, gold medal and national acclaim. Entry is open to businesses of all sizes, working in any engineering discipline.

This year’s winner, Edinburgh-based Artemis Intelligent Power, was recognised for its Digital Displacement power system with digitally controlled hydraulics, which has the potential to transform the viability of offshore wind power and low carbon transportation.

Dr Niall Caldwell, managing director of Artemis Intelligent Power, said: “Winning the top award from such a respected organisation has dramatically raised the credibility of Artemis’ technology. Doors have been opening for us at high levels in companies that we've long wanted to work with. Winning the MacRobert Award has also encouraged our parent company, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, to invest in Artemis as a strategic asset to develop new business in a wide range of markets.”

Dr Dame Sue Ion, chair of judges for the MacRobert Award, said: “The MacRobert Award is designed to identify technology advancements that can make a tangible difference to our lives, from step change innovations in established large companies to successful start-ups in new and emerging technology areas. I’m looking forward to meeting some of the UK’s top innovators this year alongside a judging panel made up of some of the UK’s most successful engineers.”

Entries can be submitted here

The deadline for applications is 31 January 2016.

Innovation for a sustainable built environment

Construction sector event Ecobuild is providing a platform for companies to pitch their innovative building products and solutions at next year’s show.

The Big Innovation Pitch is open to any company operating in the UK sustainable built environment market and has been created to unearth innovation across the design, construction and energy sectors.

Five selected finalists will make their final pitch to the judges in a special session hosted by and Countdown’s Rachel Riley, on day three of the conference, which takes place at Excel London on 8-10 March 2016.

Martin Hurn, Ecobuild’s event director, commented: “Companies who want to have a chance take their businesses to the next level are encouraged to take advantage of this rare chance to become a sustainability star of the future at Ecobuild 2016.”

More details here 

Explore the future at FutureFest 2016

Innovation foundation Nesta has announced its FutureFest 2016 event will be held at Tobacco Dock, between 17-18 September 2016.

Taking place every 18 months, FutureFest is a weekend of immersive experiences, compelling performances and radical speakers designed to excite and challenge perceptions of the future.

Visit the FutureFest website to find out more.