Innovation news in brief: Digital councils; energy saving devices; White City hub; liqueur entrepreneur

The new report argues residents, businesses and communities would significantly benefit from digital technologies

Digital councils could unlock £14.7 billion every year

Local councils that offer their services online - and are ‘digital by default’ - could save as much as £14.7 billion every year, new research from innovation foundation Nesta and the Public Service Transformation Network suggests.

The new report, Connected Councils, presents a vision of councils in 2025 and argues local residents, businesses and communities would significantly benefit from digital technologies that improve the delivery of services and help councils navigate tightening budgets. It also argues that the UK can learn from exemplar digital councils around the world such as New York City and Copenhagen.

Energy-saving tap adapter wins Ecobuild award

An energy-saving adapter for taps which makes washing of hands both more luxurious and water efficient has won an innovation award.

The Waterblade impressed the judges at the Ecobuild Big Innovation Pitch. Waterblade will now have the opportunity to work with Mark & Spencer on a potential trial of its device in the company’s stores.

Company owner Nigel Bamford said: “At the time I invented the Waterblade I was working full time on a different business venture and did not have any spare time or design capacity.

“This all changed when I won an innovation voucher to work with Brighton University’s product design department. I now have international intellectual property protection for the Waterblade and we are actively exploring markets in the UK, Europe and globally.”

Imperial College London tops out on new White City hub

Imperial Colllege London has recently completed the structural building work for its Molecular Science Research Hub and Translation and Innovation Hub.

The two interconnected hubs form one of the first major parts of the innovation ecosystem for the College’s new White City Campus, which is set to co-locate research, business and healthcare on a scale unprecedented in London.

The Translation and Innovation Hub will house co-located laboratories with major corporate partners, new start-ups and fast-growth technology companies. Scheduled to open in summer 2016, it forms part of a larger innovation ecosystem, managed by Imperial College ThinkSpace, which provides high-spec laboratory and office workspaces to companies at every stage of their growth.

Due for completion in 2017, the Molecular Science Research Hub will be a state-of-the-art science building housing research from Imperial’s Department of Chemistry to seed a new molecular sciences neighbourhood, connecting with work in synthetic biology, data sciences, digital and health.

Norwich Research Park to house new Quadram Institute

A new centre for food and health research, the Quadram Institute, is to be located at Norwich Research Park.

The initial investment for the Quadram Institute is being provided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council together with its three Norwich-based partners: the Institute of Food Research; the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; and the University of East Anglia.

Work on the new £81.6 million facility begins this month, with an anticipated opening in 2018.

Liqueur entrepreneur claims £10,000 prize

A coffee liqueurs business, which began life as part of a student’s Enterprise Placement Year, has won the grand-final of a major national ‘young entrepreneurs’ competition – TestTown – and has been granted a substantial first prize of £10,000.

Called Panda’s Kitchen, the enterprise is the creation of Huddersfield advertising design graduate Stephen Bond and only began after an earlier business collaboration, on a web-based publication, fell through during Stephen’s placement year.

After being urged by the University’s Enterprise Team, which is based in The Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Centre, to try his hand at another venture, Stephen immediately thought of a special interest that he had pursued since the age of 18 – devising recipes for flavoured liqueurs.

Now, since its official opening in Huddersfield’s Byram Arcade less than 12 months ago, Panda’s Kitchen has gone from strength to strength.

“Winning was never my main goal going into the competition,” said Stephen. “I saw TestTown as an amazing chance for me to test my obscure products on a tough market and there were many other fantastic businesses and entrepreneurs who competed, but nevertheless winning is the icing on my liqueur-filled cake!” he added.