Innovation news in brief: Manufacturing; space; STEM; cardiovascular science

Dr Ruth McKernan, chief executive of Innovate UK

Conference to highlight innovation supply chain opportunities

Manufacturers in the North East are being urged to collaborate with high-tech companies earlier to take advantage of opportunities in the lucrative innovation supply chain.

This will be one of the messages innovation leaders will be sharing when they gather at a science park conference in County Durham next week.

Speakers at the Innovation Supply Chain Conference, which will be held at the North East Technology Park (NETPark) in Sedgefield, County Durham on March 10, will explain how firms can make the most of the hundreds of opportunities created by high-tech companies based at the park.

The event has attracted key speaker Dr Ruth McKernan CBE, chief executive of Innovate UK as well as Dr Graham Hillier from NETPark-based CPI and PolyPhotonix CEO, Richard Kirk.

Business Durham’s innovation and business growth director, Catherine Johns, said: “We know that NETPark creates high quality home-grown jobs, both on site and off site. Every job on a science park generates between 1.5 and 3.6 jobs in its local supply chain. By collaborating with local companies at an early stage we can ensure that they are the first to benefit from the future expansion of NETPark, in turn boosting the economic productivity and prosperity in the region.”

To find out more, visit

UK and United Arab Emirates increase collaboration in space

The UK Space Agency and UAE Space Agency have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create a strategic space partnership.

The MoU allows for extensive cooperative activities in the field of space between the UK and the UAE, including partnerships in scientific missions and outreach efforts.

The agreement builds upon decades of friendship and strategic partnership between the UK and UAE.

David Parker, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said: “We are extremely proud of this memorandum. This collaboration in the space field is a sign of the strong desire of our two countries to work together, and confirms the commitment of the UK to become a partner of the UAE Space Agency.”

The MoU includes conception and implementation of joint studies and projects, the exchange of scientific data and information, an exchange of personnel and training of specialists between the two agencies, as well as government activities related to space policy, public outreach and human development.

H.E Dr Khalifa Al Romaithi, chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said: “The UAE enjoys a strong relationship with the United Kingdom in various fields, including education, business, science and culture. We are looking forward to further augmenting this relationship via the new MoU, which is in line with our strategic plans to expand collaboration with the UK.”

Edinburgh Technopole helps inspire young women into STEM careers

Edinburgh Technopole is helping to encourage girls into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers at special event at the Midlothian science park.

Female pupils from Newbattle, Penicuik and Lasswade High Schools will visit Bush House at Technopole on March 8 to hear about the careers and academic studies of four renowned women currently working in STEM occupations.

Confirmed speakers include Julie Wood of Benchmark Vaccines Ltd, Dr Janine Robb of Quotient, Katherine Garden of Xilinx and Dr Nicola Stock of the Roslin Institute.

Judith Sanderson, Edinburgh Technopole park manager, said: “I think encouraging girls into STEM careers is so important in our modern world and although as a country we have made progress over the past few years, the problem remains. More than 50% of STEM graduates are female, but this translates into only 14.4% of the workforce. This ‘leaking pipe’ is a huge issue and ‘plugging’ it has untold benefits to society. I think it is crucial that we do whatever we can to show girls the varied and exciting careers they can have within STEM occupations and I hope this afternoon will do just that.”

Norwich Research Park welcomes new financial controller

Norwich Research Park has appointed Paul Reed as its new financial controller.

Reed, who joins the team from the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association, brings with him an outstanding wealth of accountancy experience, gained working for a diverse range of major East Anglia-based businesses.

Paul said: “It is wonderful to be at the centre of such a forwarding-thinking organisation that is dedicated to supporting innovative developments. Having previously worked for start-up and corporate organisations, I can very much identify with challenges both new and established businesses face.

“I am absolutely delighted to join the team and finding out more about life here at Norwich Research Park.”

Norwich Research Park chief executive officer Dr Sally Ann Forsyth said: “Financial controller is a pivotal role and we are really pleased to welcome such an experienced financial manager as Paul to our senior team. I am very much looking forward to working with him.”

Red meat link to acute heart failure, new research suggests

A new University of Leicester study shows a possible link between red meat and heart disease.

Patients with acute heart failure often have high levels of the metabolite trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) – of which red meat is a major dietary source – according to researchers from the University of Leicester.

In previous studies TMAO has been association with mortality risk in chronic heart failure but this association in acute heart failure is still unknown.

The team, led by Prof Toru Suzuki from the University of Leicester’s Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, measured circulating TMAO levels in approximately 1,000 patients admitted to University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust with acute heart failure.

The study, published in the journal Heart, was the first to investigate association of TMAO levels in acute heart failure patients, a condition associated with high mortality and morbidity – and suggests involvement of the gut microbiota and diet in outcomes of acute heart failure.