Does the electronics industry need another low cost development board? After all, we already have nearly 1.5m Raspberry Pi boards shipped worldwide, as well as a plethora of Arduino and Beagle boards. There’s even the Galileo boards from Intel using the low cost, low power x86 X1000 Quark processor.
Imagination Technologies, which has a design centre in Bristol and its wireless division nearby in Chepstow and is a key player for technology in the region, has developed its own version of Raspberry Pi. The Creator C120 uses a MIPS-based processor from Ingenic and is the first board that combines Imagination’s MIPS, PowerVR and Ensigma programmable RF technologies.
The 90.2 mm x 95.3 mm board uses an Ingenic JZ4780 with a 1.2GHz dual core 32bit MIPS with a SIMD engine (for doing graphics quickly) and both single and double precision floating point FPU. It is also adding 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. For video and graphics, the PowerVR SGX540 GPU and dedicated video hardware support a suite of video codecs, including MPEG-4, H.264, VP8, MPEG-2, RV9, and others. There’s also two USB ports and an HDMI connector – there’s more details and comments on the background in the EETimes story I wrote.
The other interesting thing is to look forwards. Imagination has pointed out that this first board doesn’t use its Ensigma IP – what about a low cost Ingenic part with the Whisper WiFi IP (more on that here tomorrow!) and Warrior processor embedded as well? A low cost board with good WiFI out of the box running Android 4.4 KitKat? That is a compelling coder/developer board at $25-$35 that would also make a huge difference to ODMs – and don’t forget Imagination has a well established consumer electronics subsidiary (Pure) that already has volume board manufacturing deals. Add in Imagination’s Flow cloud software on this to make it easily part of a home system with some automatic discovery and it becomes compellingly easy to set up and use. Mmmmmmm, some very interesting opportunities there!
US microcontroller maker Microchip is in talks about acquiring CSR (Cambridge Silicon Radio) which recently opened its expanded WiFi design centre in Bristol
The first offer was rejected and Microchip has until 25th September to finalise any deal.
CSR developed a very interesting mesh overlay for Bluetooth that allows smartphones and tablets to easily control many Bluetooth devices in the Internet of Things.
Microchip uses the MIPS cores from Imagination Technologies (also with a design centre in Bristol) while CSR uses the XAP and ARM processors so there would be an interesting mix of technologies. Microchip’s recent acquisitions include flash memory maker Silicon Storage Technology (SST) and WiFi specialist ZeroG in 2010 as well as networking chip maker SMSC in 2012. Microchip also announced a deal in May with Taiwanese Bluetooth chip maker ISSC Technologies that will close in the third quarter this year.
Atego in Cheltenham, the world’s largest independent modelling tool company, is independent no more.
This month the $50m acquisition of the company by Massachusetts-based PTC was completed. PTC has a history in the region, having bought Bristol-based high performance computing and virtual reality pioneer Division in 1999 where they both worked with Airbus. PTC is itself potentially being pursued by GE and late last year bought a pioneer in the Internet of Things, ThingsWorx.
Atego was formed in January 2010 from the merger of Aonix and Artisan Software Tools, creating headquarters in the USA and Cheltenham with subsidiaries in France, Germany, and Italy. The acquisition enhances PTC’s portfolio of product lifecycle management (PLM) and application lifecycle management (ALM) solutions, and strengthens PTC’s commitment to supporting its customers’ systems engineering initiatives with powerful modeling capabilities. Atego launched its
Atego’s market-leading Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) solution connects requirements engineering, architecture modeling, physical product definition, and system verification functions. In doing so, it drives efficiencies and process standardization, allowing distributed teams to collaboratively build digital models of complex systems, while managing system variability and enabling reuse. These capabilities are increasingly important in a world of smart, connected products in which manufacturers must concurrently develop systems that consist of sophisticated mechanical, electrical, and software components.
Most of the cost associated with any product occurs early in the development process. As such, good decisions made early – while architecting ideas – are critically important. With digital models, manufacturers can ascertain product viability and predict product performance early in the development process, thereby reducing project time and decreasing project costs.
“This is an acquisition that makes perfect sense for PTC,” said Peter Bilello, president of analysts CIMdata. “Products are no longer simply mechanical systems. And model-based systems engineering supports collaboration across multiple disciplines (mechanical, electrical, software, and controls) and other enterprise functions (manufacturing, purchasing, finance, service, and project management). CIMdata believes that MBSE will become the pervasive paradigm for product development, supporting and promoting a systems thinking mindset.”
“Today, the competitive landscape is characterized by complexity, and manufacturers must employ a holistic approach when designing smart, connected products,” said Brian Shepherd, EVP of Enterprise Segments for PTC. “For customers in our focused markets, there is increasing importance for multifunctional teams to work in concert while modeling the interdependencies of mechanical, electrical, and software engineering components. The acquisition of Atego extends our existing ALM and PLM technologies, and directly supports customers’ needs to integrate multiple systems engineering disciplines.”
Over the past 12 months, Atego achieved approximately $20 million in revenue.
Bristol-based chip designer XMOS has signed one of the largest chip deals so far this year with a $26m investment that could drive the company into the Internet of Things. “There’s not many chip companies getting funded here or in the US so that is quite a standout event in itself,” said Nigel Toon, XMOS CEO.
The investment comes from Robert Bosch, Huawei and Xilinx Technology Ventures is to accelerate development of the next generation multicore, low latency, low cost processors and programmable I/O. XMOS is looking to expand its silicon design team as a result, says Toon.
The deal includes investment from Europe, the US and China. “Huawei is an interesting partner,” said Toon. “They are focussed on investing in Europe which is a small part of the reason but they are the number 3 supplier in smart phones and interested in the whole extension of that into the Internet of Things – there are quite a few overlap areas. And a partnership with a company like that in China is tremendous.” Last month Huawei announced it was setting up an R&D centre in Bristol.
The XMOS technology fits well with Bosch in automotive, industrial and consumer, and Hongquan Jiang, Investment Principle at Robert Bosch Venture Capital, will join the XMOS board. “XMOS is one of the most exciting young semiconductor companies around today and we see a huge potential for their intelligent multicore technology in various sectors of our parent company,” he said.
The third leg of the investment is FPGA vendor Xilinx. “There’s nothing explicit with Xilinx but we are both programmable companies, we are lower power, they are heavily focussed on infrastructure so there’s a lot of overlap in our general interests,” said Toon, who used to work for arch-competitor Altera. “We have some common distributors so we can benefit from that.”
More on Huawei and XMOS from the FT: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7de0d9d4-0e9a-11e4-a1ae-00144feabdc0.html
The £16.5m Enterprise Zone, announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, today, will provide incubation and grow on space for businesses specialising in robotics, biosciences, biomedicine and other high tech areas. It has been developed in collaboration with the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and the University of Bristol with strong support from South Gloucestershire Council, the University of Bath and the West of England Academic Heath Science Network.
The other three University Enterprise Zones are at Bradford with £12m for a digital health hub, Nottingham building a Technology Entrepreneurship Centre for big data, advanced manufacturing and aerospace, and energy, and Liverpool with £15m to become ‘Sensor City’.
UWE’s Zone in former HP Lab buildings at Frenchay will promote university-business collaboration, provide space for new and growing businesses, access to specialist facilities and expertise, and business support. The £16.5m project is supported by £4m from the government with match-funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership, business and UWE Bristol itself. The Zone is expected to generate over 500 new jobs, and generate more than £50m for the local economy. The 11,000 square metre building will provide laboratory space, offices and workshops, share start-up ‘studio’ space, communal space for networking and meeting, access to specialist equipment and technical support and business services.
Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Business Engagement at UWE, Professor Martin Boddy who led the project for the University commented, “The University has a strong track record of working with a whole range of partners to support innovation, business growth and the skills to meet business needs through innovation networks, knowledge transfer partnerships, the i4G Growth Fund and other initiatives.
“The University Enterprise Zone now provides a tremendously exciting opportunity to build on this success with a new venture that will help to drive forwards the major cluster of high growth, innovative, technology-based businesses in the West of England. This is one of a small number of national ‘pilot’ projects which provides the opportunity to demonstrate how collaboration between business and universities can drive innovation, jobs and business growth.
“This will be much more than just a building. It will provide access to the sorts of facilities and expertise that would otherwise be out of reach for new and growing businesses, it will provide ‘wet labs’ – currently a real gap in the market, it will promote collaboration and networking between businesses, university researchers, students and graduates and there will be dedicated business support and services from the University, Bristol Business School and partner organisations. It will complement Bristol and Bath Science Park, the LEP Enterprise Zone and Enterprise Areas and the Engine Shed Incubation Centre at Temple Quay and Bath Innovation Centre – together these provide a fantastically rich and fertile ecosystem to support business growth and innovation across the whole city-region.”
West of England LEP chair, Colin Skellett, said, “The Government’s support for the proposal from the University of the West of England and University of Bristol to establish a University Enterprise Zone with £4m of additional funding is extremely welcome, and recognition of the strengths our region offers. This will create opportunities for greater university-business collaboration, providing grow-on and incubator space alongside leading-edge university research and R&D facilities. The West of England is being seen more and more as a leader in a number of areas, including robotics, high tech, creative and digital innovation, which also form a key part of our strategic economic plan. The University Enterprise Zone very much complements our plan.”
High Tech Bristol & Bath (HBB) is recruiting a part time experienced network manager as its CEO. This is a board level appointment to the newly formed CIC company that will run a range of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) on vertical and horizontal technologies in the West of England area.
These include wireless technologies, high performance computing, smart city, digital health, education & skills and high tech marketing. These groups are led by SIG champions who determine work plans and deliverables.
The network manager will:
- Organise SIG meeting
- Liaise with SIG champions, recruit replacement champions from membership
- Sign up new members locally, nationally and internationally with the support of board members
- Promote HBB activities locally, nationally and internationally
- Manage membership list
- Organise & manage voting for SIG champions where necessary
- Develop new SIGs with new members
- Develop new revenue streams and raise sponsorship
- Liaising with network partners, sponsors, members and the High Tech sector group of the West of England LEP
The role is initially 1-2 days/ week but there is potential to turn this into a full time role depending on the revenue raised. We currently have members from universities, companies and local authorities in the region. The network manager will report to the board of HBB and also sit on the High Tech Sector group of the Local Economic Partnership which acts as the advisory group to the HBB board.
- Self starter
- Experience with running networks
- Electronics industry knowledge
- Innovative thinker
- Collaborative worker
The backgrounder for the HBB activities is here
Deadline for applications is Friday 25th July. Interviews will be in the week of 28th July 2014, date to be confirmed to successful applicants. To apply, please forward your CV and covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions please contact Nick on the email above or on 07710 236368
The Bristol and Bath region has an internationally-significant and fast-growing high tech sector according to an influential new report.
The high tech, creative and digital media innovation cluster is showcased in a new report by the Centre for Cities and McKinsey & Company which recommends more Government investment in key clusters to stimulate growth in the UK economy.
Three of the 12 high-growth, globally-significant UK clusters identified in the report are based in the South West – they are the region’s high tech, aerospace and tourism sectors. Technology is also identified as key to many of those 12 clusters.
Stand-out strengths of Bristol and Bath’s cluster are its diverse combination of industries and strong networks, according to the report, which highlights the region as an in-depth case study.
“It is this diversity of connected sectors, skilled workforce, world leading academic research and brilliant quality of life that make Bristol and Bath so distinctive and attractive,” said Professor Joe McGeehan, chair of inward investment agency Invest Bristol & Bath and special advisor to Toshiba. “Industries ranging from high tech to creative and digital media, and from robotics to aerospace, work collaboratively to drive innovation. Major global players are increasingly setting up operations in the Bristol and Bath region as they seek to benefit from this offering as part of their plan for business growth.’
The cluster covers electronics manufacturers, animation and computer graphics firms, as well as digital start-ups and university spin-outs. This ‘melting pot’ of companies ranges from larger players such as Aardman Animations, HP and Toshiba to small 3D printing and robotics technology start-ups.
Specialist hubs such as Bristol & Bath Science Park, Watershed and the Engine Shed are also highlighted as a vital component of this thriving cluster, along with networks which connect talent, companies, universities and investors across sectors.
Clusters are a major contributor to economic growth, an important source of well-paid jobs and also bring wider business advantages such as a strong understanding of customer demand and support for innovation. As a result, clusters are well placed to attract investment and talent, according to the report.
Inward investment agency Invest Bristol & Bath has recognised the strength of the cluster to secure a flurry of investment and interest from national and international high-tech firms wanting to establish a base in the area.
Chinese telecoms giant Huawei is setting up an R&D facility in Bristol, while Somo, the largest independent mobile solutions company, has chosen Bristol to set up a specialist engineering centre, and digital solutions company Kainos has also invested in opening a new office in the city. Leading online takeaway service JUST EAT has also announced it is expanding its technology development by opening a new specialist hub in Bristol.
The Centre for Cities report also highlights a range of barriers to the development of a successful cluster, including the challenge of securing recognition on a global stage. “Clusters are an essential feature of an innovative and dynamic economy, and the Government needs to support them and remove the barriers to their growth,” said Lord Sainsbury, who commissioned the report.
“We know that relatively small, but targeted investments in areas such as skills and infrastructure can make a significant difference in the UK’s economic output,” said Centre for Cities chief executive Alexandra Jones. “Improving local business environments and increasing the flexibility of our cities to respond to their specific challenges will not only support existing clusters to reach their potential, but encourage the emergence of new clusters and high-growth firms in all sectors across the UK.”
Joe McGeehan who was at the launch of the report, “Just over a year ago, we established Invest Bristol & Bath, the area’s inward investment agency to promote the region at a national and international level. This move is already paying dividends as Invest Bristol & Bath, which is backed by funding from the Government’s Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, has created over 700 jobs in the past year.”
David Sproxton, chairman and co-founder of Aardman, said: ‘It is excellent to see a report focusing on the importance of industrial clusters as powerhouses for the economy, and highlighting Bristol and Bath for its undoubted strengths across the high tech, creative and digital-media space. We definitely need to raise the profile of UK clusters so they can continue to compete on the global stage.’
Bonnie Dean, chief executive of Bristol & Bath Science Park, says: ‘It is the collaborative approach of Bristol and Bath’s technologists, business leaders and academics, combined with its rich network of interlinked, complimentary sectors that make the tech cluster here particularly successful. The region has excelled in creating a lively ecosystem of enterprise, where knowledge, expertise and ideas are shared, innovative thinking is stimulated and business success is accelerated.’
A vibrant and innovative cluster, Bristol & Bath’s tech industry is producing animated films, the latest breakthroughs in analysing ‘big data’ and the world’s smallest drones.
Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson responding to the news said: “This is a very welcome report that recognises Bristol and Bath as one of the most important clusters of economic activity in the UK. Our growing expertise in the creative and digital sector is getting attention and attracting more and more companies to relocate here.”
See also: Bristol is the best tech cluster outside London at http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Government-urged-backing-Bristol-s-key-clusters/story-21315283-detail/story.html#ixzz36P1AKREE
The deadlines for two health technology funding competitions in the SouthWest are approaching.
The telehealth competition run by the SW Microelectronics iNet and West of England Academic health Science Network (WEAHSN) closes on 4th July for expressions of interest for innovation vouchers worth up to £10,000
The competition is seeking applications from innovative small to medium-sized enterprises in the South West of England for telehealth projects focusing on the delivery of health-related products, processes and services via telecommunications technologies.
If you are interested, and would like to find out more information please email email@example.com for the form.
The deadline to submit Expression of Interest form is Friday, 4th July. There is also a matchmaking workshop on Wed 16th July to put projects in touch with each other.
The latest competition from SBRI Healthcare, an NHS England-funded initiative to develop innovative products and services that address unmet health needs, has £2.5 million available to support small business development across England. Businesses will be able to submit applications for the competition from now until 12:00pm on 10 July 2014.
SBRI Healthcare will be working in partnership with the West of England and Wessex Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) on medicines adherence, which is one of the five key areas of healthcare that the national competition will focus on.
Businesses in the West of England are encouraged to submit products and services that will help improve how patients follow treatment recommendations to ensure that patients are getting optimum benefit from all the treatments they have been prescribed.
“It is estimated that between a third and a half of prescribed and dispensed medicines are not used as recommended and many end up being wasted,” said Sue Ladds, Chief Pharmacist, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. “This has a significant negative effect on patients, the healthcare system and society at large so it is imperative that we find an innovative patient-centred solution to reduce the non-adherence and suboptimal use of medicines.”
The SBRI initiative is a three-phased approach which starts with a six-month feasibility phase with an award of up to £100,000 and then moves on to more detailed product development and NHS validation, where companies can secure up to £2 million in funding support.
“The support we have received from SBRI and the West of England AHSN has been fantastic. We have been able to further the development around our handheld ECG monitory device which can be synced up to smartphones and PCs to help primary care and ambulance staff to identify arrhythmias,” said Steve Cliffe, Business Development Director, Plessey Semiconductors won the last SBRI competition earlier in the year
“We are really encouraging organisations to get involved as this is a fully-funded opportunity for businesses to access support to bring their innovative products and services to new markets,” said Dr Elizabeth Dymond, Deputy Director, Enterprise and Translation at West of England AHSN.
“We have partnered up with the West of England AHSN on this competition because we feel that this is a topic that businesses in our area could really contribute to, said Andy Burroughs Director of Wealth and Enterprise, Wessex AHSN.
There is growing market traction for the Ensigma Series4 ‘Explorer’ radio processor unit (RPU) cores designed in Chepstow as more companies integrate 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 and other connectivity into their Systems-on-Chips (SoCs).
New customers for the Ensigma WiFi/Bluetooth combo IP cores from Imagination Technologies include Ineda, Toshiba, Toumaz and multiple fabless companies from Korea and China including Rockchip and others from around the world who will be announced publicly at a later time. Among the target applications are streaming media devices, tablets, wearables, IoT devices and standalone WiFi combo chips. The new Ensigma WiFi licensees join the growing Ensigma RPU customer base, which also includes Qualcomm, STMicroelectronics, S2-Tek, Frontier Silicon, Orca Systems and others.
“Moving forward, virtually every device will be connected,” said Martin Woodhead, EVP for Ensigma Communications at Imagination. “To address this, the Ensigma RPU offers the flexibility to design for a range of connectivity and broadcast standards using just one on-chip radio system, so customers can create one design for multiple markets and also have a built-in roadmap for emerging standards. With our end-to-end connectivity solutions including RF, baseband, firmware, software, support and certifications, Imagination is uniquely positioned to help customers address new market opportunities quickly and cost-effectively.”
Imagination has a graphics hardware and software design centre in Bristol as well as the radio design team in Chepstow. The company’s program of WiFi Alliance certifications ensures interoperability. Imagination has recently achieved WiFi Alliance certification for Miracast and Passpoint, adding to a growing list of certifications including WiFi CERTIFIED, WiFi Direct, WPA, WPA2, WMM and WiFi Protected Setup.
The Ensigma Series4 RPUs provide a unique universal and highly scalable solution for integrating global connectivity and broadcast communications capabilities into SoCs. By combining the latest software programmable radio techniques with a multi-processor architecture, a wide range of communications standards are fully supported. The flexible hardware architecture of Ensigma Series4 RPUs means that the engine can be easily scaled to address everything from the smallest most cost-sensitive embedded connected processors to the most advanced connected smart TVs and tablets targeting global markets.
Ensigma RPUs support all key standards for connectivity including 802.11a/b/g, 802.11n with up to 4×4 MIMO, 802.11ac with up to 2×2 MIMO, as well as Bluetooth. They also enable global TV products supporting DVB-T2, DVB-T, ISDB-T, ATSC, GB20600-2006 (CTTB), DVB-S2, DVB-S, ISDB-S, DVB-C, J.83B, ISDB-C; analogue TV; mobile TV including T-DMB, 1-Seg ISDB-T; and broadcast radio standards including DAB/DAB+, HD Radio, 3-seg ISDB-T, ISDB-Tmm and FM.
Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) has opened a new Research and Development facility in Bristol to drive further innovation in WiFi technology.
The new site, opened today, is staffed by 33 engineers from a wide range of companies in the area such as ST, Nokia and Imagination Technologies and from all around the world, including India, Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic.
“We were building a WiFi team in Bristol but we needed a step change in capability,” said Joep van Buerden, CEO of CSR at the opening (below). “We had the opportunity to acquire the WiFi team lock stock and barrel from ST-Ericsson 16 months ago but then we discovered how good a place Bristol was. There is a steady supply of graduates from the university and leading companies around with a vibrant community of engineers with all sorts of expertise.”
Since the opening of CSR’s original R&D site at the Bristol & Bath Science Park in 2012, the size of the team has grown to 33 employees and CSR expects to continue this expansion. The new R&D facility, at Almondsbury in Bristol, will better support the needs of the existing team and enable growth over the coming years.
This expansion will create a number of job opportunities in the local area, especially for graduates from South West universities. “We have some spare capacity but I could very easily see this office growing further,” said van Beurden.
“At CSR, we’re passionate about developing cutting-edge technology that helps our customers turn great ideas into market leading products, and to do that we need to invest strategically in R&D,” said Anthony Murray, Senior Vice President, Business Group at CSR. “That’s why we’re opening this new, larger facility in Bristol. Bristol has a vibrant technology scene and with high quality universities that are developing the next generation of engineering talent on our doorstep it is a great place to expand our R&D capabilities.”
SETsquared has been ranked as the top university business incubator in Europe and second best in the world.
The ranking, published by the University Business Incubator (UBI) Index, places SETsquared as one of the world’s leading three incubators, ahead of SCUT Science Park at South China University of Technology and just behind number one, The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University Houston.
“SETsquared did really well on our Global Benchmark and beat numerous business incubators based at top universities,” said Dhruv Bhatli, Co-founder and Director of Research at UBI Index said. “They are one of the best incubation places in the world and certainly the best in Europe, as evidenced from their performance on our global benchmark. It is an outstanding business incubator that provides exceptional quality to its client companies and produces growth companies and high economic impact.”
SETsquared hosts centres in Bristol at the EngineShed and at the Bath Innovation Centre, as well as at the Universities of Exeter, Surrey and Southampton, giving it a strong presence across the SouthWest. Since its inception it has worked with more than 1,000 high-tech start-ups that have raised over £1bn in investment.
SETsquared success stories include companies that have developed swine flu detection kits, microchips that speed up connection to the internet, and security systems that protect against terrorism without impeding world trade.
“I’m delighted by the recognition in this year’s UBI Index – it’s an honour and validates our focus and commitment to entrepreneurs and the businesses that they create,” said Simon Bond, SETsquared Innovation Director who is based in Bath.
“The high ranking also comes with responsibility – the UBI Index highlights that Europe’s university business incubators have to work more effectively in order to compete on the world stage. SETsquared must now reach out to like-minded organisations to form partnerships and collaborations that add value for our entrepreneurs and client businesses,” he said.
UBI Index is the first global index to benchmark performance and best practices of University Business Incubators. Around 800 incubators in 60 countries were involved in the 2014 survey.
Notes to editors
Simon Bond from SETsquared is available for interviews. To arrange please contact Laura Downton on the details below.
About the UBI Index
UBI Index is the first global index to benchmark performance and best practices of University Business Incubators.
Every year there is a nationwide shortfall of 10,000 engineering graduates but the problem is particularly acute among women. Just seven per cent of the UK’s 2.3 million engineers are women, the lowest in Europe. As a job, engineering fares even worse in attracting women than other traditionally ‘male’ careers, such as politics (where 22 per cent of MPs are women). To help meet the government’s aim of doubling the number of female engineering and technology graduates by 2030, the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) is promoting engineering as a career for women.
The fellowships include a five year collaboration with Airbus and NASA on aerospace technology for Dr Alicia Kim from the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She will lead a five year project in aerospace research under the EPSRC’s Fellowship for Growth programme.
“In order to meet drastic demands and ensure affordable air travel in the future, it is essential that aircraft are made lighter and use minimal fuel,” said Dr Kim. “Future aircraft concepts will look very different from present day models. A wing is a highly complex structure to design as it needs to consider the complex interaction between aerodynamics and structural behaviour. This fellowship will allow me to determine the best combination of advanced material and structure configuration, and therefore design an optimum aircraft wing to support different flight missions.”
Dr Marianne Ellis from the Department of Chemical Engineering was recently named as an Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) ‘Rising Star’ – an award that recognises and celebrates scientists and engineers leading research innovation in their field.
She has received a Royal Academy of Engineering /The Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship in order to further her research exploring ways of using tissue engineering to prevent rejection of skin transplants. Her work focuses on the production of cells that ‘teach’ the body to accept the skin grafts, preventing the need for the often problematic immuno-suppressant drugs which leave patients highly susceptible to infection.
Commenting on the issue of recruiting women into engineering, Dr Ellis said: “Unfortunately engineering can sometimes suffer from a bit of an image problem – especially among girls – and it is not widely recognised for the exciting, dynamic careers that it offers. Role models of successful female engineers are really important. At the University of Bath we are trying to raise awareness of engineering as a subject through our schools outreach activities, in order to increase the proportion of girls considering engineering.”
Dr Laura Torrente Murciano from the University’s Department of Chemical Engineering has been awarded a five year EPSRC-funded fellowship to create a novel manufacturing process to enable the large-scale production of metal nanoparticle-based catalysts and nanostructured materials.
Her cutting edge engineering research will deliver innovative technology to bridge the gap between laboratory experimentation of nanomaterials and their industrial applications with direct social and sustainable benefits. The technology will promote distributed manufacturing and provide competitive advantages to the UK.
The Dean of the University of Bath’s Faculty of Engineering & Design, Professor Gary Hawley, said: “It is hugely encouraging to see promising women researchers recognised for their work and furthering their careers in engineering. The University of Bath is committed to engaging with activities at all levels to promote engineering as an exciting, inclusive and rewarding career for young women.”
Earlier this year the University of Bath’s Faculty of Engineering & Design launched a set of web pages to support and celebrate the Faculty’s female students, staff and alumni. In April a Student Women in Engineering Group was also formed to build a stronger support network around women studying engineering and further career development and mentoring opportunities.
To find out more about life as a female engineer, follow the Twitter feeds of Dr Ellis (@MarianneJEllis) and Dr Kim (@OptimiserAlicia).
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EMC directive 2014/30/EU was agreed in April and will come into effect when the first EU member nation enacts legislation in the next few months. The dramatic increase in enforcement is a result of impact assessment which showed that the CE mark was not being enforced. This was highlighted in Germany where 25% of all Luminaire LED lighting products didn’t meet EU approvals, says Didier Bozec, business development manager at test lab York EMC which has a site in Yate.
The enforcement is likely to include measures such as random audits of up to 20% of all products on the market, with fines paying for testing, he says.
Member States will also have to lay down rules on penalties and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are enforced, including criminal penalties for serious infringements, says says German compliance lab TÜV Rheinland. This will cover manufacturers, authorized representatives, distributors and importers.
The new directive covers products which are new to the Union market when they are placed on the market and it applies to all forms of supply, including distance selling. It shall not apply to custom built evaluation kits destined for professionals to be used for research and development.
Some additional requirements on technical documentation have been added in the new directive, including conceptual design and manufacturing drawings and schemes of components, sub-assemblies and circuits, and the explanations necessary for the understanding of those drawings and schemes and the operation of the apparatus. These have to be part of the conformance documents a manufacturer supplier to distributors that are maintained for ten years.
The UK is expected to be one of the last to enact legislation by April 2016 but any equipment sold in the rest of the EU has to comply earlier than that.
The legislation is being handled by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). “We are working on the implementation of Directive 2014/30/EU, alongside a wider package of similar single market Directives,” said a spokesperson for BIS. “The new EMC Directive primarily aligns the Directive with key provisions of EU Decision 768/2008/EC and Regulation 765/2008/EC (collectively known as the `New Legislative Framework’). It does not amend the scope of the current Directive (2006/108/EC) [the amendment to the original 2004/108/EC EMC directive] or its technical requirements.”
There will be consultation particularly on enforcement which is currently the duty of Trading Standards departments of local councils in a complaints driven system, and of Ofcom where it interferes in the existing radio and TV spectrum.
There are more than 20 directives setting out the product categories requiring CE marking. The essential requirements that products have to fulfil, eg safety, are harmonised at EU level and are set out in general terms in these directives.
“We will keep all stakeholders informed and involved through formal and informal means during the implementation process, which will also include consideration of how to enforce the new Directive,” said the spokesperson at BIS. “We regularly communicated with our stakeholders throughout the negotiation process at EU level and we will continue to keep in touch with them as UK implementation progresses.
The £125m centre will recruit 30 high-calibre R&D employees and focus on researching ICT chips, software, and analogue chip technology. This is to complement its existing Ipswich-based optoelectronics R&D office. All together, the number of UK-based R&D jobs will increase to 140 by the end of 2014, and as previously announced will reach 300 by 2017. The new Bristol R&D centre is expected to open later this year.
” The UK is forward-thinking, progressive, and fosters innovation,” said Guo Ping, Huawei Rotating and Acting CEO. “This creativity is a major asset to our R&D efforts and gives us the perfect platform to continue pioneering the new, ground-breaking technologies that are building the future. We are committed to working with our customers and partners in the UK to leverage our global presence and customer-centric approach to innovation, bringing value to the UK ICT industry and helping its products and technologies go global.” Huawei first opened its operations in the UK in 2001 and now has 15 offices and over 900 employees in the UK, planned to rise to 1,500 by 2017.
Huawei has set up 18 joint customer development centres across Europe and now has over 7,700 staff in the region.
“The ancient ‘Silk Road’ connected China and Europe for the first time. Today, the ‘Silicon Road’ of the ICT industry makes the connection even closer,” said William Xu, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer. “Europe enjoys a long tradition of innovation and has high-calibre talents and open business opportunities. As a key player in Europe’s innovation ecosystem, Huawei has been jointly innovating and openly collaborating with carriers, partners, and academic institutions to achieve win-win outcomes. These initiatives have improved the competitiveness of the ICT industry in Europe and support EU Commission’s objective of building a single digital market and to create a better connected Europe.”
“Huawei now has over 7,700 employees in Europe, 850 of which are engaged in R&D activities. In the next five years, Huawei will hire 5,500 additional employees in Europe and the number of R&D employees increasing to more than 1,700,” he added.
Currently Huawei has established 28 customer centres around the world, 18 of which are located in Europe, in areas such as wireless access, network communications technologies, business support systems, energies, and industry solutions. Vodafone, BT and other leading carriers granted Huawei several innovation awards based on these JICs.
“Technology is one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK, which is why I am determined to make Britain the centre of tech industries,” said George Osborne, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer. “When I went to China, I visited the Huawei headquarters and met with CEO and Founder, Mr Ren, to highlight the opportunities in Britain. I am delighted that today Huawei are announcing a new R&D centre in the UK. The decision of the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker to innovate in Britain is testament to the outstanding quality of our highly skilled workforce and further evidence that our long term economic plan is working.”
Pulsic shows first complete automated layout tool for transistor-level analogue and custom digital designs
Bristol-based design tool developer Pulsic has launched a patent-pending technology that for the first time creates multiple electrically-correct layouts directly from schematics, allowing designers to quickly explore multiple results concurrently.
The company is demonstrating the Animate tool for the first time at the Design Automation Conference in San Francisco this week.
Existing approaches to automating analogue and custom digital integrated circuit (IC) designs have attempted to improve on portions of the design flow, but have not managed to generate “manual-quality” layout without significant user intervention. Pulsic has drawn on over a decade of experience helping leading-edge customers such as memory chip designers with physical design challenges to deliver a completely automated solution that overcomes the problem for analogue and custom-design layout.
Animate is the first complete automated layout system built from the ground up for transistor-level analogue and custom-digital design. It offers designers a simple, easy-to-use layout solution that delivers multiple layouts from a schematic using automatic constraint extraction and considers place and route concurrently, producing optimal-quality results. Animate automatically generates constraints based on netlist topology analysis, eliminating the need for time-consuming manual constraint entry and management.
Unlike any other analogue layout system, Animate uses a novel patent-pending technology it calls PolyMorphic Layout with a database and algorithmic architecture that derives many potential layout variations for a design. These variations crystallize into multiple, complete, DRC/LVS-correct layouts in minutes. Designers can explore these complete layout options in a fraction of the time needed to produce just a single layout option by hand. As Animate produces layout results quickly, parasitics are available for simulation early in the design process, further speeding the entire design cycle. Animate places and routes simultaneously, ensuring that each process is informed by the other and that “manual-quality” results are achieved.
“As geometries shrink, and as leading-edge processes such as FinFETS reach the market, manual analogue design is no longer sufficient,” said Mark Williams, co-founder and CEO of Pulsic. “To get routable placement, you need to know what the routing will look like, but if you place and then route, you can’t know this. As DRC rules increase, iterations between layout and design are becoming onerous, but with Animate, you can generate multiple layouts, extract them all, and then choose the optimal one for the desired performance criteria. A much bigger problem space can be explored, with better results”
Designers can use Animate at an early design stage, with minimal constraints, to explore possible layout architectures and extract early parasitics for simulation of layout-dependent effects (LDE). This approach can also provide far more accurate analogue block/design size estimation during floorplanning than has ever previously been possible.
With Animate, transistor-level designers gain not only the productivity of automation, but also the ability to explore many more design options, faster than ever before. The final result is comparable to that of an expert manual layout, but is produced in a fraction of the time.
More details are on the datasheet (registration required)
Researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Southampton have helped to develop pioneering ‘tweezers’ that use ultrasound beams to grip and manipulate tiny clusters of cells, which could lead to life-changing medical advances, such as better cartilage implants that reduce the need for knee replacement operations.
The team worked with test equipment maker Agilent, Crystapol International, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), Leica Genetix, Loadpoint, Piezo Composite Transducers (PCT), Weidlinger Associates and IKTS-Fraunhofer.
Using ultrasonic sound fields, cartilage cells taken from a patient’s knee can be levitated for weeks in a nutrient-rich fluid. This means the nutrients can reach every part of the culture’s surface and, combined with the stimulation provided by the ultrasound, enables the cells to grow and to form better implant tissue than when grown on a glass petri dish.
The tweezers, developed with £3.6m of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funding, involve multiple, tiny beams of ultrasonic waves that, in a typical device, point into a 10 mm-diameter chamber from all around. With the aid of a powerful microscope to monitor the procedure, the forces generated by the waves can then be manipulated so that they nudge cells into the required position, turn them around, or hold them firmly in place. The ‘four year Electronic Sonotweezers: Particle Manipulation with Ultrasonic Arrays’ programme started in 2009 and also includes researchers from the Universities of Dundee and Glasgow.
By holding the cells in the required position firmly but gently, the tweezers can also mould the growing tissue into exactly the right shape so that the implant is truly fit-for-purpose when inserted into the patient’s knee.
“Ultrasonic tweezers can provide what is, in effect, a zero-gravity environment perfect for optimising cell growth,” said Professor Martyn Hill, Head of the Engineering Sciences Unit at the University of Southampton, who led the cartilage tissue engineering work in collaboration with colleagues Dr Peter Glynne-Jones, New Frontiers Fellow in Engineering Sciences, Dr Rahul Tare, a Lecturer in Musculoskeletal Science and Bioengineering, and Professor Richard Oreffo, a Professor of Musculoskeletal Science. “As well as levitating cells, the tweezers can make sure that the cell agglomerates maintain a flat shape ideal for nutrient absorption. They can even gently massage the agglomerates in a way that encourages cartilage tissue formation.”
Professor Bruce Drinkwater of Bristol University, who co-ordinated the programme, said: “Ultrasonic tweezers have all kinds of possible uses in bioscience, nanotechnology and more widely across industry. They offer big advantages over optical tweezers relying on light waves and also over electromagnetic methods of cell manipulation; for example, they have a complete absence of moving parts and can manipulate not just one or two cells at a time but clusters up to 1mm across – a scale that makes them very suitable for applications like tissue engineering.”
The research programme has also shown that ultrasonic tweezers can be used to build up cell tissue layer by layer, which could for instance, help to reconstruct nerve tissue after severe trauma such as limb amputation.
This research will enable ultrasonic tweezer technology to be refined and miniaturised and specific uses to be explored and developed in the next few years. The first real-world applications, in sectors such as bioscience and electronics, could potentially be developed within around five years.
David Manners in Electronics Weekly is highlighting that the US also suffers from a lack of understanding of the needs of the silicon industry, which is suffering from an ‘innovation deficit’ says the CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), Brian Toohey.
“One threat to the semiconductor market’s continued growth and America’s overall economic strength is the innovation deficit – the gap between needed and actual federal investments in research and higher education,” says Toohey,
“Policymakers should act swiftly to close the innovation deficit by committing to robust and sustained investments in basic scientific research and higher education,” he said. This also applies across the UK and European industry.
The worldwide semiconductor industry had a record quarter with sales of $78.47 billion in Q1. March sales were $26.16 billion. “Sales in March increased across all regions and every semiconductor product category compared to last year, demonstrating the and diverse strength,” says Toohey.
Regionally, year-to-year sales increased in the Americas 16.1 percent, Asia Pacific 12.9 percent, Europe 8 percent, and Japan 0.4 percent, marking the first time in more than three years that year-to-year sales increased across all regions. Sales were up compared to the previous month in Europe 3.9 percent, Asia Pacific 1.4 percent, and Japan 0.3 percent, but down slightly in the Americas -4.3 percent.
“The global semiconductor market has demonstrated consistent momentum in recent months, and sales are well ahead of last year’s pace through the first quarter of 2014,” says Toohey.
Easyjet is developing drones to inspect its fleet of Airbus aircraft using technology from the Bristol Robotics Lab, reports BBC News, and may introduce the flying maintenance robots as early as next year.
The drones will be used to scan and assess Easyjet planes and report damage back to engineers.
“Aircraft inspection is a great application for drones,” said Dr Arthur Richards, head of aerial robotics at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory which is a collaboration between UWE and the University of Bristol. “Coupled with smart navigation and computer vision, they can get accurate data from really awkward places.”
The robot can be remotely controlled, but Easyjet wants to automate drone flights. They are fitted with high definition video cameras, but can also use lasers to scan the outside of the aircraft, Easyjet head of engineering Ian Davies told the BBC.
“We could zoom [the laser scanner] up and down the aircraft and map the surface,” he said. “If we’ve mapped the aeroplane we can have a complete history of its full life.”
He added that it is safer to have drones working at height than humans having to go up on a rig.
One of the main challenges for the drones is how to get them to work outside in windy conditions, Mr Richards said.
The drones are built to be light in weight, but that can make them vulnerable to gusts of wind on an airfield.
They plan to use research into how animals such as bees and birds cope with blustery weather to “see how nature solves the same problem”.
Another challenge is to automate drone flights, he added.
At the moment engineers and pilots email pictures and call Easyjet’s control centre to try to resolve issues over the phone, but Easyjet is planning to use hi-tech glasses that can relay high definition video images back to base.
Engineers could be directed to do repairs by a team looking at the video stream coming from the glasses, Mr Davies said. The technology also uses “augmented reality”, where a computer image is superimposed on the view as seen through the glasses.
For example, an engineer can compare an image of a fuselage projected onto the glasses with the actual fuselage, to see what work needs to be done.
At the moment, the data is transmitted using 4G, but Easyjet is discussing options for satellite links with communications company Iridium, Mr Davies said.
Samsung is looking to meet SouthWest companies with interesting technology in sensors, camera technologies, wearables, embedded software and new materials
June 16th, techUK offices, 10 St Bride Street, London
Successful companies will be invited to exhibit at Samsung’s Technology Innovation Exhibition in Korea this October
Samsung Electronics are continually scouting for new technology or innovations that will deliver enhanced value to their product and service portfolio. Their technology scouting team invite technology providers to demonstrate how new innovations can enhance the performance, quality and functionality of their products and services.
At this Open Innovation event, you will hear directly from Samsung’s technology sourcing team who will outline their future technology needs. If you have technology IP or capability or wish to collaborate in the following areas, then Samsung’s technology sourcing team would be happy to meet with you:
- Sensor technologies (Temperature, Distance, Vital Signs, Biometrics, Spectroscopy)
- Sensors for Office Automation (Paper, Colour, Character, Density)
- Wearable device technologies
- Camera technologies
- Energy & Power technologies
- Software Solutions & Applications technologies
- New materials, finishes or packaging
- Sensor technologies (Fibre, Image, Face, Emotion, Dust)
- Samsung’s New Technology Requirements.
To participate, simply register and provide your details. There is a small delegate fee to cover the event day costs and administration of the one-2-one brokerage process (see below).
When you register, you will be asked to briefly outline your company capability, and to indicate how you can match any specific technology needs that Samsung have identified.
You will be allocated a private meeting schedule for the day, accessed from this website, and will be able to schedule meetings directly with the Samsung team.
Successful delegates, who demonstrate to Samsung an innovative technology that matches their needs will be invited to Korea to exhibit at their global conference in October 2014.
Delegate Fees as follows:
- techUK Company Member: no charge (included in your subscription fee)
- techUK Network Plus Member: £52.50 + VAT
- techUK Network Member: £75 + VAT
- Non-Member: £225 + VAT
For more details and to register: http://samsung.easy2partner.com/techweek.aspx
Bath startup Thalia Design Automation has raised its first equity funding to commercialize natural algorithms such as those used by ants for analogue, mixed signal and power design tools and is set to launch the beta versions of two new tools.
The key is that the Amalia and Emera tools use algorithms borrowed from natural processes such as ant movements to optimize placement and routing in these designs. This is traditionally regarded as a black art, needing highly skilled and scarce engineering resource, relatively long design cycles and often multiple design iterations to get to a production product, so using natural algorithms is a way to automate the design process further. Optimizations which typically took several days to weeks to complete can now be performed in a matter of hours says the company.
“Analogue design methodology has remained unchanged for a long time,” said founder and CEO Sowmyan Rajagopalan. “I have seen the technical and time consuming efforts analogue designers have had to live with in order to design and optimise their circuits. Thalia’s tools will enable users to meet more challenging design requirements within shorter time frames. Custom chip design companies will benefit from reduced design times, shortened redesign cycles, better performing parts and more effective use of scarce skilled design resource.”
A further benefit is that the toolsets can be used to rapidly retarget existing designs to alternative silicon foundries for cost reduction and sourcing flexibility.
Thalia has now completed its initial equity funding round with Mercia Fund Management and Finance Wales. In addition the company has secured grant support from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the Welsh Government.
“We are extremely pleased to have invested in a company that has developed solutions that not only address a technical challenge but also bring productivity gains for customers,” said Everard Mascarenhas, Investment Manager at Mercia Fund Management. “Thalia has developed a truly disruptive technology in a multi-billion dollar worldwide market where the incumbents grow and expand their offer through acquisition.”
Thalia provides two suites of EDA design tools; AMALIA, an intelligent analogue design optimisation and automation toolset and EMERA, a unique power device optimiser, schematic and layout generator. As well as offering these tools on a time-based software license, Thalia will also offer a design optimisation service directly and through partners.