New inventions, ranging from a technology to remove chewing-gum to an interactive yo-yo that teaches children the importance of hand-washing, were brought together at an innovation expo held recently at The University of Nottingham’s Innovation Park.
The Innovation Fellowships programme, coordinated by The University of Nottingham, aims to facilitate the commercialisation of ideas, products and processes, and increase the flow of new technology from universities to business
A stepping stone for commercial investment
Involving all universities from across the region, the Innovation Fellowships programme provides a stepping stone for academics in East Midlands institutions on their way to securing commercial investment or industry contacts.
Since its founding in 2000, the Innovation Fellowships Programme has supported more than 230 projects, deploying almost £3m into early stage commercialisation projects, many of which have gone on to become successful spin-out companies.
Visitors to the expo were given the opportunity to view a range of stalls, mini-demonstrations, and to speak to the researchers behind some of the Programme’s most exciting new technologies.
A diverse range of technologies
The expo highlighted some of the most exciting projects to have emerged from the Innovation Fellowship Programme over the past few years. Fifteen fellowship holders from Loughborough, Nottingham, Nottingham Trent, De Montfort and Leicester universities came together to showcase their work in developing a diverse set of new and technologies from a broad range of academic disciplines.
Dr Kim Hardie, from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham, was also among the exhibitors. Dr Hardie attended to showcase the Glo-Yo, a child friendly and interactive gadget that teaches children how to wash their hands properly.
The Glo-Yo works by dispensing a non-toxic UV-iridescent lotion onto a child’s hands. A screen on the Glo-Yo then instructs the child on how to wash their hands properly. After they have done so, the child can push a button to shine a UV light onto their hands and see if there is any lotion left on their skin. It is hoped that by educating young children on the importance of good hand-washing practices, the Glo-Yo could help to prevent the spread of tummy bugs and other infectious diseases.
Dr Hardie said: “The Innovation Fellowship provided me and my team with the opportunity to receive support and advice about commercialising our invention directly from experts.
“As a result, we signed a licensing deal with a local company, we gained media attention, and developed a new set of prototypes to use in field trials which have successfully shown how effective the Glo-yo is in a healthcare setting. We now need help to embark on large scale manufacture of the Glo-yo, which we firmly believe will make a long-term difference to hygiene.”
Taking their first steps towards commercialisation
Dave Southall, Innovation Fellowships Coordinator for the East Midlands, who is based at The University of Nottingham, added: “This is the first time we have been able to showcase these emergent technologies from institutions across the region in one place. Prior to receiving the support from the Innovation Fellowships Programme, many of these ideas were only at the concept stage and it was great to hear the buzz of excitement at seeing so many tangible examples of innovation now taking their first steps to being adopted by industry.”
Some of the other technologies exhibited at the Innovation Fellowships Expo included a new way of removing chewing-gum from clothing (Dr Randolph Arroo and Dr David Elizondo, De Montfort University); an innovative tinnitus treatment that uses tinted lights to relieve symptoms (Dr Mike Mulheran, the University of Leicester); ingenious voice recognition and verification software (Dr Tony Allen, Nottingham Trent University); and novel and more accurate way to determine the interlaminar shear properties of composite laminates (Dr Gang Zhou, Loughborough University).
The Innovation Fellowships Programme is currently part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is used to tackle regional disparities across Europe and supports regional development through actions such as business innovation and support and regeneration.
Photo shows: Dr. Kim Hardie from The University of Nottingham, with the Glo-Yo.