Greg Clark, MP, Minister for Universities, Science and Cities recently visited the University of Nottingham Innovation Park (UNIP) to gain an insight into how it is commercialising technologies and supporting small businesses and student enterprises.
During his tour, Mr Clark visited the University’s unique Technology Demonstrator room, used to showcase a range of recent University inventions and technologies, where he met with student and academic entrepreneurs.
In the Technology Demonstrator, the Minister met with Undergraduate engineering students, Tom Shorten, Tom Dryden, David Alatorre and Peter Storey, who have created the ‘Freefall Camera’. The students created the autonomous ‘Freefall Camera’ as part of a group design and manufacture module. The freefall camera robot tracks skydivers in freefall and deploys its own on board parachute to pilot itself to a safe location on the ground, ready to be used again.
Mr Clark also saw the technology developed by another business which has benefitted from working with the University - Shadow Innovations. Thermal imaging cameras are used in many sectors of modern life: military and policing, surveillance and security, rescue and recovery and is growing in significance in other sectors including: maritime and industrial applications. However, they are usually large and expensive. Shadow Innovations saw a gap in the market for a smaller affordable camera.
Rob Reeve and Aaron Ventura, Directors of Shadow Innovations were inspired to work with the University after attending an Ingenuity breakfast event about 3D printing. The company received support from an ERDF funded University of Nottingham Innovation Voucher, in order to work with specialists at Nottingham. This funded the time of an academic expert who, in conjunction with Shadow, has optimised a unique circuit board for a new thermal imaging camera.
Hands-free heart sensor
Mr Clark also met with Dr James Carpenter, Chief Executive of University joint venture business, HeartLight Systems. Dr Carpenter demonstrated the HeartLight sensor, a device which provides a way of continuously monitoring the heartbeat of new-born babies by attaching a small sensor to their head. It is designed to give a constant indication of the baby’s heart rate without the need to have to stop to check the heartbeat with a stethoscope during resuscitation. This technology is now being developed to make HeartLight a commercially viable product.
At the end of his visit, the Minister also met with Professor Herve Morvan and students involved in the Nottingham Institute for Aerospace Technology (IAT) formed to bring together the different strands of aerospace technology at Nottingham. Since the inception of the IAT the research portfolio at Nottingham has doubled to reach short of £70m.
While at the University’s Aerospace Technology Centre, Mr Clark formally signed the Growth Deal for the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership before an audience of partner organisations and guests from the LEP. The growth deal will secure £174.3m from the government which will be used to create jobs and drive economic growth investment in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
Encouraged by success
Speaking about his visit to The University of Nottingham, Greg Clark said: “I really enjoyed meeting innovative businesses and budding young entrepreneurs at The University of Nottingham, and seeing some of the exciting technologies which are being developed there. Both businesses and universities benefit tremendously from working together, and it is encouraging to see the success of these partnerships in Nottingham.”
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Karen Cox, who escorted the Minister during his tour of the Innovation Park, added: “We are very pleased that Greg Clark came to visit us to meet some of the students, academics and businesses who are doing such exciting work here at The University of Nottingham. We are aware that we have an important role to play in helping businesses of all sizes to innovate, develop and compete effectively in today’s global marketplace.”
For more information about the University of Nottingham’s work with businesses, visit www.nottingham.ac.uk/servicesforbusiness