Innovation news in brief: Utilities; cyber security; healthcare; sports

UTTO consists of a cloud-based platform, a mobile tablet app and a networked locator device.

Utility companies set to benefit from locate technology

A breakthrough locate service which has been developed with help from product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants could save utility companies millions of pounds.

Developed by US-based IPEG Corporation, UTTO consists of a cloud-based platform, a mobile tablet app and a networked locator device.

IPEG Corporation approached Cambridge Consultants for help with the complex system integration – including wireless communications hardware, app development and server-side software.

“We believe this new technology will revolutionise the locate industry,” said Alan Haddy, president of IPEG Corporation. “Since the first underground pipes and cables were laid, utility companies and skilled field technicians have had to search repeatedly to find their assets. Now, they can map and relocate those assets with the support of our cloud-based technology – saving time and money, and reducing mislocates.

“We chose to work with Cambridge Consultants on this project as it has the multidisciplinary expertise necessary to solve our complex technical challenges fast – and has enabled us to link together all the elements into a complete platform from core to cloud.”

Cyber security awareness boosts demand for IT professionals in finance

Demand for IT professionals in the financial services sector has risen considerably over the past 12 months, according to specialist service provider giant.

The growing demand has been attributed to increasing awareness of cyber security risks with a recent study by PwC, indicating 71% of businesses believe that cyber threats have increased over the last two years.

The latest analysis of giant’s contractor database found that IT professionals expect the financial services sector to be one of the biggest providers of job opportunities over the next 12 months. Analysis also indicated that the average number of days between assignments is shrinking and 77% of professionals expect remuneration to rise over the next year.

Matthew Brown, managing director of giant group, said: “The data from our analysis highlights what is already very clear – that there is a shortage of IT professionals operating within the financial services market. This upward trend is one we expect to continue as cyber security becomes a key business focus for the financial services sector. With a reduced number of permanent experts in the market, firms are increasingly relying on the expertise of specialist contractors.”

“A recent study from KPMG revealed 57% of UK businesses find it difficult to recruit cyber security staff and with companies in financial services some of the most vulnerable, it’s unsurprising they are looking to contractors to ensure they are not at risk of data breaches.”

“The rise in remuneration on offer to contractors also comes as no surprise. These professionals boast a wealth of experience and with the cyber security landscape continually evolving, extensive up-to-date knowledge is vital.”

SBRI Healthcare backs emergency healthcare innovation

Fourteen companies will share £1.4 million funding to develop products that can significantly impact the increasing pressures being put on urgent and emergency care services, SBRI Healthcare, an NHS England funded initiative, has announced.

The number of attendances at A&E has risen significantly in the last decade putting pressure on urgent and emergency care services and increasing waiting times.

According to the Kings Fund, 21.7 million visited A&E in 2013/14, a greater than 30% rise in the last decade. More than 70% of hospital bed days are occupied by A&E admissions and 80% of A&E admissions who stay for more than two weeks are patients aged over 65.

With an average award of £98,000, the successful companies (and supporting Academic Health Science Network) are:

Preventing admissions: Serket Technology (Eastern AHSN), Mologic (East Midlands AHSN), Microbiosensor (Greater Manchester AHSN), Renephra (Greater Manchester AHSN), Careflow Connect (West of England AHSN) and Farewill (Imperial College AHSN)

Coordinating admissions: Ubisense Ltd (Eastern AHSN), Biovici (Wales), IXICO (UCLPartners) and Kernow Health Solutions (South West AHSN)

Resource planning: 365Response (Yorkshire & Humber AHSN), Snap40 (Scotland), SA IP (West of England AHSN), Cambridge Clinical Management Analytics (Eastern AHSN) and Ubisense Ltd (Eastern AHSN)

Jon Siddall, director of investment partnerships at South West AHSN, said: "Emergency and urgent care is a very challenging area of work for the NHS. The innovative ideas that we are announcing funding for today will hopefully bring new and creative solutions into this space that will improve care for patients and efficiency for the NHS."

University announces new Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Science

A new Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Science has been announced by the University of Sheffield.

Prof Nigel Clarke, who is currently head of the physics and astronomy department will take up his new role in June 2016.

Prof Clarke previously worked at Durham, Leeds, Manchester and Southampton universities and has an excellent track record in supporting growth and developing international collaborations with associated funding.

He said: "I am thrilled at being given this opportunity to lead the Faculty of Science, which has one of the largest Science student populations in the UK and an impressive range of research interests from pure mathematics to social, health and environmental psychology.

"It is clear to me that what we have in common is a love of science and a passion for scientific discovery. I am looking forward to building on this shared identity, enabling colleagues from across all our departments to inspire and learn from each other.

“In this way we will continue the growth of our international reputation for excellence in both teaching and research as a faculty, doing our part for the success of the University of Sheffield.

Dutch University scientists transform vehicle into power plant

Researchers at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands have successfully engineered and installed a socket on a Hyundai vehicle which serves as an electrical outlet.

Working in collaboration with Hyundai they converted the zero-emission fuel cell electric vehicle into a power plant on wheels – a European first.

Frank Meijer, head of fuel cell electric vehicles at Hyundai Motor Europe , said: “The researchers led by Prof Ad van Wijk at TU Delft are the first ones in Europe who have managed to make the next big step towards a more sustainable future based on fuel cell cars as a clean source of energy,”

He added: “Fuel cell cars produce electricity, heat and clean water out of hydrogen that can be used in homes, schools and offices.”

Wanted: Global sports innovation

Patras Science Park in Greece has launched an international sports innovation competition for start-ups.

The aim of the competition is to bring together bright young entrepreneurs, researchers and students focusing on building innovative products and technologies that will disrupt the world of sports (IoT, wearables, swimming, running technologies, APP’s, medical equipment, etc).

The competition will take place in Rio de Janeiro during 2016 Olympic Games. Ten start-ups, each representing a different country, will make it to the finals after going through a selection and preparation process.

Finalists will get the opportunity to pitch their ventures before an audience comprised of top VCs and angel investors, as well as key players and influential figures from the sports industry.

More details available here