Innovation news in brief: Ultrasonics; space; Internet of Things; clean tech

Steve Cliffe CEO (left) and Tom Carter, CTO & Founder, Ultrahaptics

£10m funding boost for tech start-up Ultrahaptics

An haptic start-up revolutionising how we interact with computers, automobiles and consumer goods has received a £10m boost to develop its offering.

Bristol-based Ultrahaptics has developed a unique technology that enables users to receive tactile feedback without needing to wear or touch anything. It uses ultrasound to project sensations through the air and directly onto the user. Users can ‘feel’ touch-less buttons, get feedback for mid-air gestures or interact with virtual objects.

The funding from Woodford Investment Management, IP Group, employees and other investors brings Ultrahaptics’ total funding to date to £11.3 million.

“The company is engaged with Tier 1 manufacturers in multiple markets and the investment from Woodford Investment Management will allow us to fulfil this demand and address additional markets and customers,” said Steve Cliffe, CEO. “Our technology completes gesture control by re- introducing the sense of touch.”

Watch videos about Ultrahaptics here

Blast off postponed for European spacecraft LISA Pathfinder

Europe’s technology demonstrator spacecraft for detecting gravitational waves, LISA Pathfinder, hit technical problems before it was due to launch today.

The European Space Agency’s spacecraft was due to launch from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 04.15am this morning, but a technical issue at the last moment led to the launch being postponed.

ESA’s said the spacecraft is in stable and safe condition. A review of the results will take place today, leading to a decision for a possible launch on December 3.

The UK-led spacecraft will help to open up a new observational window into the gravitational Universe, testing new technologies needed to measure gravitational waves in space.

Predicted by Albert Einstein, these waves are ripples in the curvature of spacetime produced by massive celestial events, such as the merging of black holes.

The UK’s involvement in LISA Pathfinder’s technology demonstration payload and the operational phase of the mission is funded by the UK Space Agency and was formerly funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council .

UK scientists from the University of Birmingham, the University of Glasgow and Imperial College London have designed and built elements of the innovative and complex LTP.

Software manufacturer secures £2m funding

Software manufacturing firm Boxxar Ltd has announced that it has received additional investment of £2m. The funding will be used to accelerate its growth in the aerospace and defence industries.

The funding is being provided by existing shareholder IP Group and new investor Parkwalk. Boxxar's clients include Airbus, Boeing, Raytheon, Rolls Royce, Siemens, and the US Navy.

Alasdair Pettigrew, chief executive of Boxxar, said: “Boxxar has been successful because we are the only solution that really works for vastly complex aerospace and defence projects. There are enormous opportunities for growth and this new investment will help us to realise our plans. It is particularly pleasing that IP Group has added funds and we are delighted to welcome Parkwalk as a shareholder.”

Nick Sturge, director of the Bristol SETsquared Centre, commented: “Boxarr is one of truly global companies – with a customer list many other companies aspire to. We are delighted that Alasdair and the team at Boxarr have secured this funding and we look forward to their being a part of their continued growth.”

Cambridge Wireless to deliver IoTUK Boost

Cambridge Wireless (CW) has been chosen as one of four successful organisations that will deliver IoTUK Boost, a series of local IoT innovation challenges and rapid incubation activities taking place over the next five months.

CW, together with CENSIS, Leeds DataCity, and Sunderland Software City, will now work with IoTUK to identify up to 20 SMEs and bring them together with large companies or public sector organisations to help find solutions to specific challenges.

Each Boost will culminate in two one-day workshops and innovation contests, with winners gaining access to business, technical and mentoring support from the IoTUK team..

“Our goal at IoTUK is to collaborate with start-ups, SMEs, enterprises, academics and other contributors to the digital economy to advance the take up of IoT in the UK,” said Maurizio Pilu, executive director for collaborative R&D, Digital Catapult.

“The companies chosen to be our Boost partners mirror our passion and interest for IoT as a transforming approach to business and society. CW’s submission particularly stood out for their experience in connecting the IoT community. We are delighted that CW is part of the IoTUK Boost programme.”

Green technology awards: innovators win recognition for success

Eight businesses have won awards for their cleantech innovations at this year’s BusinessGreen Technology Awards.

Winners included Prof Toby Peters, chief executive of Dearman, who was named innovator of the year, and Intelligent Energy, which won the awards for breakthrough of the year and technology of the year.

The winners are:

  • Q-Bot – building technology of the year for its retrofitting of buildings using a robot
  • BuffaloGrid – social impact technology of the year for its mobile power and internet service
  • Perpetual V2G – transport technology of the year for its anti-idling technology
  • Powervault – solar innovation of the year for its energy storage system
  • Whitefox Technologies – clean and cool award for international impact
  • Cyan Technology – future city technology of the year for its smart city communication platform
  • Intelligent Energy – breakthrough of the year and technology of the year for its fuel cell powered telecom towers
  • Toby Peters of Dearman – innovator of the year

Five of the businesses – BuffaloGrid, Perpetual V2G, Whitefox Technologies, Cyan Technology and Intelligent Energy – have taken part in recent Clean and Cool Missions, supported by Innovate UK, where they were able to meet like-minded companies overseas and talk to potential investors.

Entries were judged on three criteria – innovation, scalability and demonstrable success.

Networking opportunity for science and technology providers

The Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE), which is part of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), is holding a networking event for science and technology providers in London on 10 February 2016.

Speakers include Jim Pennycook, head of operations at CDE, who will introduce CDE and give an overview of proof-of-concept research funding opportunities for innovative science and technology providers.

Technical experts from Dstl will also provide information about the themed competition: synthetic biology for novel materials. This competition has up to £750,000 available for fully funded phase-1 projects.

There will be networking opportunities with other potential bidders, currentDstl suppliers, CDE, Dstl and military experts.