Accolades for innovation

27 May 2009 16:05:00.000


Two original and exciting commercial projects based on pioneering research at The University of Nottingham have been shortlisted for international awards for innovation.


The projects, ‘Promethean Particles Ltd — Formulating solutions with nanomaterials’ and ‘Microwave Exfoliation of Vermiculite’, made the shortlist (of 14) from more than 70 other entries from institutions across the world. The Impact Awards are staged by the UK’s leading body of research commercialisation professionals, UNICO. The awards recognise and celebrate the process of turning knowledge and expertise from research centres into real commercial products and services that benefit society and the economy.

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Entries for the awards had to show that the project submitted had achieved, or had the potential to achieve, public impact and that knowledge transfer was a crucial part of that process.


Dr Susan Huxtable, Director of Technology Transfer at The University of Nottingham, said: ”We are delighted that the University has been short-listed in two out of three categories for these new awards. It is entirely in keeping with Nottingham’s status as Entrepreneurial University of the Year. Both of these and the many other technologies arising from the University's research base highlight the important contribution that academia has to make to the future prosperity of UK plc.”


In the Business Impact category Promethean Particles is a recent spin-out company from The University of Nottingham established to exploit unique nanoparticle production technology and expertise developed by Dr Ed Lester and his colleagues. Inorganic nanoparticles are used in diverse fields such as electronics, cosmetics, biomedical, energy and optoelectronics. During the first year of operation the company has successfully worked with global corporations based in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan. Initial orders have enabled staffing to grow and will underpin future growth.


In the Environmental Impact category an innovative process technology is generating significant market interest. The global vermiculite (a naturally occurring mineral widely used in fireproofing and horticultural markets) industry is a significant energy consumer that derives from the requirement to ‘exfoliate’ the raw material into the low weight-high volume product. Traditionally this has been carried out in highly inefficient gas or oil-fired furnaces. Whilst microwave processing has shown significant promise in reducing energy consumption, a commercial process has never been developed. Professor Sam Kingman and his team in the National Centre for Industrial Microwave Processing have worked closely with the Technology Transfer Office to successfully develop a unique process technology that consumes significantly less energy whilst also enabling wider environmental benefits such as reduced dust creation and compact footprint.


Chair of Unico, Professor David Secher said, “Unico is delighted to be associated with these exciting new awards. The range of entries evidences the depth and breadth of knowledge transfer that is taking place and show how that knowledge transfer is driving innovation. The Impact Awards will raise the profile of the projects and the teams.”


Judging Panel Chair, Dr David Owen, added, “It’s exciting to be invited to chair the judging panel of The Impact Awards in its inaugural year. It was a tough challenge to decide which entries should be shortlisted and even harder to pick the winners. Without the combined skill and expertise of the independent judging panel; this task would have been much more difficult.”


Winners of The Impact Awards will be announced at The Impact Awards ceremony, held at the Unico Conference Gala Dinner, Brighton Racecourse, on Thursday evening, June 11 2009.


— Ends —


Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.


More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.


The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.


Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives ( in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.


About UNICO:


Unico is the UK's leading representative body of professionals realising the potential of university and public sector research through commercialisation.

Unico members maximise the impact of UK research to benefit society and strengthen the economy by identifying markets for research discoveries; protecting intellectual property; licensing new research; creating quality 'spinout' companies; and providing businesses with the world-class expertise and facilities to solve growth-inhibiting challenges.


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 More information is available from Dr George Rice, Research Innovation Services on +44 (0)115 843 2190,

Emma Rayner - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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