Innovation news in brief: Space mission; cyber; quantum technologies

The UK companies are focused on changing the way we access, use and evaluate data from satellites

Start-ups in space data mission

Seven space sector start-ups from the UK are travelling to the US this week to pitch for new business and investment.

The seven companies, Ecometrica, Rezatec Ltd, Terrabotics, Blue Skies Space Ltd, Geocento Ltd, Oxford Space Systems and Gyana all focus on how we access, use and evaluating data from satellites.

Space Mission 2.0, is taking place in Houston, Texas between the 15 and 20 November 2015. The UK delegates will attend the Space Commerce Conference and Exposition in Houston and will meet with companies and investors in the field of satellite applications and space technologies.

The delegates will also meet teams from NASA, network with leaders from the burgeoning US space industry and pitch their businesses to space investors.

The start-up ‘mission’ is being funded by Innovate UK, UKTI, and the Satellite Applications Catapult.

Government to create new cyber innovation centres

The government has announced it will create two new innovation centres focused on cyber excellence.

On his recent visit to the national Cyber Security Centre at GCHQ chancellor George Osborne revealed that Cheltenham will host one of two cyber innovation centres, reports the Gloucestershire Echo.

Osborne said: "[The]innovation centres are places where cyber start-ups can base themselves in their crucial early months, and which can become platforms for giving those start-ups the best possible support.

“I can announce that one of the two innovation centres will be here in Cheltenham, reflecting the extraordinary talent in this place and our aspiration that this talent should help our cyber sector."

Race to replicate Sun’s energy hots up

Lasers could make materials hotter than the Sun in less than a nanosecond, new research suggests.

Scientists from Imperial College London have come up with an extremely rapid heating mechanism that could heat materials to ten million degrees in much less than a million millionth of a second.

The proposed method, details of which were recently published in the journal Nature Communications, could be relevant to new avenues of research in thermonuclear fusion energy, where scientists are seeking to replicate the Sun’s ability to produce clean energy.

The physicists from Imperial suggest heating would be about 100 times faster than rates currently seen in fusion experiments using the world’s most energetic laser system. The race is now on for fellow scientists to put the team’s method into practice.

Roadmap published for quantum technologies

The UK National Quantum Technologies Programme (UKNQTP) has published a roadmap to help guide UK businesses and organisations working in the growing field of quantum science.

Quantum theory explains how light and matter behaves and new science developed over the last two decades can create and manipulate naturally occurring quantum effects.

The science is expected to have a major impact on the finance, defence, aerospace, energy and telecommunications sectors.

The new guidance, unveiled at a recent UKNQTP event at the Royal Society in London, identifies a series of technologies that have the potential for commercial application over the next few years.

These include:

  • Gravity imaging for use in oil and gas exploration, archaeology and space exploration
  • Quantum sensors for navigation, banking, trains, health monitoring, instant texting and defence
  • Quantum computing for the solution of complex problems or large challenges beyond existing computers

Manufacturers concerned about innovation support

Manufacturers are warning chancellor George Osborne that Britain risks squandering years of investment in hi-tech research and business support if he cuts support for innovation at the spending review next week, reports the Guardian

Manufacturers’ organisation EEF says its members are worried that Osborne’s new round of austerity will add to their uncertain outlook.

EEF chief economist Lee Hopley said: “Famine and feast is not good. We’ve got an ecosystem that manufacturers are starting to understand and the UK is becoming more competitive internationally.

“We are not looking for emergency measures, but a stable, predictable business environment.”

The chancellor unveils his comprehensive spending review on 25 November.

Technologies give hope to lung cancer and diabetic patients

A breath test to detect lung cancer and a wound dressing that brings oxygen directly to the wound are two of the latest NHS innovations being championed by Cambridgeshire MEP Vicky Ford.

The two Cambridge-based companies behind the technologies, Owlstone and Inotec AMD, have benefitted from reforms made in Brussels, which have enabled small companies to co-develop solutions for large public sector buyers such as the NHS.

Owlstone’s easy to use breath test technology has the potential to detect lung cancer cases earlier, and allow more effective and less expensive treatments. The project estimates it will save the NHS £82m each year.

Inotec AMD meanwhile is developing an oxygen therapy device for non-healing diabetic foot ulcers. Diabetic foot ulceration currently costs the NHS around £540m per year.

Vicky Ford said: “This breath test is effective and cost effective and is a credit to the scientists involved. Also deserving much praise are the local NHS staff who are determined to improve cancer detection and are seeking new solutions to assist their cause. So much innovation comes from small companies which is why I worked for rule change and these projects I believe are just the start of what can be done.”