Innovation news in brief: UK Space Agency; Sensor City; Zika virus

UK Space Agency expands business incubation network

The UK Space Agency is expanding support for business incubation centres across the UK, providing funding that will enable a network of incubators to support start-up companies across the breadth of the space sector.

The funded incubators, located in the North, North Wales and east Midlands, will provide small businesses with access to facilities and resources and will be part of a network of incubators that will collaborate on events and initiatives.

Colin Baldwin, UK Space Gateway programme manager at the UK Space Agency, said: “North England, the Midlands and north Wales all have the potential to make a significant contribution to our thriving space sector. There are opportunities for a range of companies developing innovative products that can match the needs of the space industry. We’re committed to nurturing business and research in these regions, and showing small businesses how they can benefit from our £11.8 billion space industry.”

The incubators receiving funding include Business Durham, Science and Technology Facilities Council, Glyndwr Innovations, Leicester Dock, UNIP Management Ltd and Loughborough University.

A dozen new clients join Cornish innovation centre

The award-winning Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre (HWIC) in Truro has welcomed 12 new clients in the last quarter as it marks its third anniversary.

Since opening in spring 2013, HWIC has become home to 36 fast-growing companies, including nine office-based and three affiliate clients who moved into the purpose-built incubation facility during the last quarter. Existing client businesses at HWIC have enjoyed record annual growth averages of up to 68 per cent in one year.

Karen Murray, manager of HWIC, said: “The Innovation Centre is really an accelerating environment, as well as a place to support innovation itself. It’s enormously rewarding for our team to see how the support we provide, coupled with the state of the art facilities here at HWIC, is helping Cornish businesses to grow, expand and reach their full potential at a far faster rate, whether they are newly-established start-ups based in our Formation Zone or larger companies expanding their teams.”

The Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre (HWIC) at Treliske in Truro is one of three Cornwall Innovation Centres operated by Plymouth University on behalf of Cornwall Council. Pool Innovation Centre opened first in 2010 followed by Tremough Innovation Centre in Penryn in 2012 and finally HWIC in 2013. Plymouth is the first University to receive the NEF Innovation Institute award.

Liverpool’s Sensor City project receives £5 million boost

A joint venture between the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University to create a hi-tech sensor hub in Liverpool has received a £5 million EDRF funding boost.

The £15 million ‘Sensor City’ facility could create 1,000 jobs and house 300 new businesses over a 10 year period in a bespoke 2,500 sq m building.

The Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) backed project will support companies as they develop and implement novel sensor systems, integrating sensors, firmware and advanced algorithms.

Vice-chancellor at the University of Liverpool, Prof Janet Beer, said: “The sensor market is growing at more than 10% per year, creating 73,000 jobs in the UK alone. Our universities will provide the entrepreneurial talent to translate innovative ideas from the laboratory to the factory floor, benefitting new and established businesses across the country.”

The UK sensor industry generates £13 billion each year and supports 70,000 jobs, producing £6 billion in exports. Around 1.4 million people in the UK are employed in sensor-aligned professions of which 159,000 are in the North West and 27,000 are in the Liverpool city region.

Funding boost to tackle Zika virus

UK funding for rapid research into tackling the Zika virus is set to increase to £4 million, the government has announced, as British scientists continue to lead the way in tackling this global emergency.

The development of an online database to allow visual information on cases to be studied by scientists across the globe and plans to study the link with birth defects are just some of the vital projects that will be able to go ahead thanks to the investment.

Cloud computing on the rise

Almost two-thirds of UK businesses planning to migrate their entire IT estate to the cloud and three quarters expect to increase their cloud usage in 2016, new research suggests

These are the findings of the Cloud Industry Forum, which surveyed 250 UK firms. With businesses increasingly consuming IT in an on-demand, as-a-service way, common reasons for switching to the cloud include greater flexibility, scalability and 24/7 availability of services, as well as cost and time savings.