Innovation news in brief: North East; climate data; energy technologies; defence enterprise

Hans Moller (NELEP), Michelle Medhat (IKE), Jon Vincent (TyneMet College), Paul Smissen (TyneMet College) and Prof Sa’ad Medhat (IKE).

New institute to drive innovation in the North East

Tyne Metropolitan College has partnered with the Institute of Innovation and Knowledge Exchange (IKE) to establish the new Northern Institute of Innovation and Knowledge Exchange.

The Northern Institute of Innovation and Knowledge Exchange will provide a key force in helping to drive innovation forward in the region.

Jon Vincent, principal and chief executive of TyneMet College said of the partnership: “TyneMet is widely acknowledged as a regional leader in delivering forward thinking and innovative strategies that fulfil economic demands. The establishment of the Northern Institute of Innovation and Knowledge Exchange further cements our commitment to sharing innovative practices with employers on a local, regional and international scale.

“In the North East, we have a long established history as a region which pioneered and embraced industry, this unique heritage underpins our future and how we focus on skills that matter, by moving forward with current and emerging industries.

"By working with employers to collaborate on innovative practice, we can develop our curriculum to precisely suit the requirements of employers, skills in which they can harness, this helps to close the skills gap and provides our future workforce with the necessary qualifications industry demands.”

Prof Sa’ad Medhat, IKE’s chief executive said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with the Tyne Met College. We work extensively with businesses and we know that the common denominator in terms of capability-gap is in innovation. Some of the early offers the Northern Institute of Innovation and Knowledge Exchange will be providing to the North East business community are specialist courses in innovation for professionals and business leaders to energise the region’s appetite for innovation.”

Mum scoops Entrepreneur of the Year award

A mum in her mid-thirties, who had doors shut in her face when trying to return to work after having a child, has been crowned Entrepreneur of the Year in Pitman Training’s International SuperAchievers Awards, after she set out to create her own opportunities and now runs a global franchised business.

Sam Willoughby, founder of What’s on 4 Little Ones, harnessed the most support from the public vote, and received unanimous support from the judges to secure her victory.

After having her daughter, Sam was looking to return to her project manager role on a flexible working basis. Unfortunately her employer quickly closed that avenue so Sam decided to resign from her position and build a flexible career that would suit her needs.

Her business idea came about when looking at what family activities were going on in and around her local area to keep her then toddler entertained. She quickly realised there wasn’t a central point of reference that listed all the classes and activities going on in one ‘go-to’ place and saw a gap in the market for an online directory style listing, the business ‘What’s on 4 Little Ones’ was born.

That initial business concept was put in action ten years ago in 2006. Today, with Sam still at the helm as Managing Director, What’s On 4 is now franchised worldwide with a million visitors a year and thousands of attendees to live events.

Climate data from space

The UK Space Agency (UKSA) and the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) are funding a project that will provide a seamless supply chain of climate data from space.

The UK Climate Data from Space computing zone will help boost growth and innovation in the UK’s climate services industries by providing data processing facilities, community tools and software to allow regular production of climate data from currently flying satellite instruments.

The CDS-zone will provide dedicated infrastructure and software support to the UK Climate Data from Space community, hosted on JASMIN-CEMS, for an initial period of two years.

Beth Greenaway, head of earth observation at UKSA, said: “This further UK investment... has put us in a really great place to make the tangible changes needed to create a seamless supply chain of climate data."

It is anticipated that commercial, societal and scientific benefits to the UK will result from projects hosted.

Prof John Remedios, director of the NCEO, added: "The UK environmental sciences community have an international reputation for the quality of their climate data sets. Such data sets not only allow us to understand current changes in climate but provide real information on likely impacts. The benefits range from evidence for policy to market information which allows businesses to build environmental considerations into their operations."

Businesses showcase energy technologies

More than 25 innovative businesses working in the energy sector are showcasing their technologies to potential customers, partners and investors at the 2016 All Energy conference in Glasgow.

All Energy, which takes place on May 4 -5, is one of the UK’s leading renewable and energy exhibition and conferences.

Among the businesses are Ceres Power Ltd, which is working with Catal International to improve the efficiency of its Steel Cell fuel cell technology for remote power generation, and ACT Blade Ltd, which is developing a lighter more cost and energy-efficient wind turbine blade.

Other business showcasing their technologies include Recycling Technologies, which is developing a technology to convert plastic waste into a fuel that can be used to generate electricity, and ICAX Ltd, which is developing heat sharing networks for buildings.

Rob Saunders, head of energy for Innovate UK, said: “The businesses that will be showcasing their technologies are a snapshot of ones that have either been supported by us or by DECC over recent years. Through the event we are hoping to facilitate connections with new collaborators, first customers and potential investors."

CDE to host networking event

The Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) is holding a networking event for science and technology providers at The County Ground, Edgbaston, Birmingham, on 30 June 2016.

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

Technical experts from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) will provide specific information about the themed competition: ‘seeing through the clouds’, which has up to £500,000 available for fully funded Phase-1 projects.

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

Register here