A Bristol startup has developed an entirely new way of building static memory on a standard logic process that cuts the power in half without paying a penalty in area or speed.
Silicon Basis is based at the EngineShed and is developing the tools to help chip designers add memory to their devices in a way that uses less power, reduces the number of extra chips they need and gives them flexibility to move to different process technologies.
“Fundamentally memory has some real problems everyone does it the same way,” said Mark de Souza, chief executive at Silicon Basis and formerly at memory IP supplier Virage Logic. “They all take the TSMC arrays and put them together.” These arrays are specifically designed on a particular process.
Silicon Basis sees two key advantages for its technology it can save up to 50% of the power consumption and it can go below the bit cell voltage of the foundry memories. This lower voltage allows the memories to be powered by the same voltage source as the logic and so eliminates the need for a second DC-DC converter which adds cost and complexity to a design.
This also makes the technology foundry independent and scalable to new technologies such as FinFet, says de Souza. The company has produced all the models needed and is now working on 28nm silicon to prove the implementation.”We use our own bit cell so we are not restricted to the foundry’s Vmin which is a huge advantage,” said de Souza. “Dropping the voltage makes a huge difference.”
All of this comes from a new way of looking at the design of the cell which is currently being patented. “No one has seen this way of designing SRAM before,” he said. “We are talking to the experts in memory design and no one has seen this way of putting memory together. Its all using standard rules and standard CMOS. Its an architectural difference that means we don’t need to use sense amps and because we are using logic rules we can go down to the logic voltage floor and possibly below that.”
“Our cell size is about the same as the high speed cell from the foundry,” said Rob Beat, founder and chief technology officer of Silicon Basis and designer of the new cell. “There’s a compromise on area in the array but because the periphery is more efficient we are competitive in area especially on the smaller RAMs.”
The architecture brings advantages with the compiler that are not to be underestimated, he says. “Our single port compiler also outputs a one port register file,” he said. “Because of the way the bit cell is designed we can use the same bit cell for dual port so the dual port compiler will do the dual port register file and asynchronous dual port memory.” This avoids the problems of having up to five different compilers for each process technology with a significant support burden
The technology has been developed for the TSMC 40nm node and outperforms the high speed bit cell, says de Souza. “This took us a little bit by surprise as we didnt design for speed,” he said. “We did a lot of work at 40nm but what we are seeing from customers is that 28nm HPM is going to be a major node and we think there will be more new designs starting on 28nm than on 40nm.”
The technology is also fully compatible with FinFet vertical structures being used in TSMCs 16nm process node. “Our technology will work very nicely with FinFet right out of the box,” he said.
The technology has previously been used by Beat to develop low power FPGA fabric but has attracted more interest for the SRAM compiler. “For me, Silicon Basis starts here,” said de Souza.
Bristol and Bath is providing £2m to boost silicon and high tech startups.
Twelve startups and small companies in the region have been awarded close to £2m ($3m) from the West of England Growth Fund, with Blu Wireless Technology awarded £1m for its 60GHz programmable IP development. The Growth Fund administers UK and European matched funds for the region and has already awarded £11.85m to SME companies.
All the companies are in the Bristol or Bath centres of the SETsquared incubator.
Bath businesses receiving funding include app developer neighbourly (£94k), Clean Energy (£27k), Citeab (£26k), Tivarri , Envolve Technologies (£132k) and CloudFind (£90k).
”I’m delighted that our companies have benefited from this investment by the West of England Growth Fund – the grants will now leverage additional multi-million pound private investments into these companies,” said Simon Bond, Centre Director of Bath SETsquared and the University of Bath Innovation Centre.
Members of the Bristol SETsquared Centre in receipt of awards are Digital TV Labs (£233k), Blue Speck Financial (£220k), AptCore (£80k), Nanoscope Services (£40k) and SecondSync (£100k).
“Bristol and Bath has some fantastic tech businesses – in software, internet technology, electronics, semiconductor, biotech and across all sorts of sectors. These awards will make a massive impact into jobs growth here – and SETsquared has a track record of businesses growing steadily without failing, so these are high-value, sustainable jobs,” said Nick Sturge, Bristol SETsquared Director.
Paul Wilson, chief executive of the West of England LEP, says: “Through this fund we have already invested around £14m, which has attracted more than £41 million of private sector investment into the local economy, creating or safeguarding over 1,500 jobs. High tech is a significant area of growth for us – we already compete internationally and our region is nurturing a future generation of high tech businesses.”
Bristol-based gigabit wireless IP developer Blu Wireless Technology has won a £1m ($1.6m) grant from the local Growth Fund for its 60GHz IP development.
The initial markets for BWT’s technology include the emerging 60GHz ‘WiGig’ addition to the WiFi family and high-speed wireless links for the latest 4G mobile networks based around small cells. These low cost small cells will be mounted on street furniture such as signs and street lamps.
BWT is already starting work on applying the programmble baseband technology to the emerging 5G telecommunications standard.
The company has seen the investment from the West of England Growth fund that is administering UK and European matched funding to small companies in all sectors. The company has grown from a team of 7 at the beginning of 2013 to 17 and anticipates that by the end of 2014 it will have around 30 staff.
BWT is based in the Engine Shed in Bristol, alongside a growing cluster of high tech and digital businesses.”This grant from West of England Growth Fund, combined with the almost £2.4M we have raised from private investors over the last year, will allow us to complete the development of our prototype design by the end of 2014,” said Henry Nurser, CEO of BWT. “BWT already has a strong working relationship with the University of Bristol and these funds will ensure that these links are further strengthened. All feedback on our technology from the multiple international companies we have been in discussion with has shown us that we have an opportunity to become leaders in these exciting new markets. We are confident that customers will buy our Bristol designed technology as soon as it’s commercially available.”"This is the single largest amount we’ve awarded from the £25 million pot and it’s exactly the type of project we want to support,” said Paul Wilson, chief executive of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership LEP. “Through this fund we have already injected around £14m into the local economy, which has attracted more than £41 million private sector investment, creating or safeguarding over 1,500 jobs. High tech is a significant area of growth for us – we already compete internationally and our region is nurturing a future generation of high tech businesses.”The company has shifted from developing and selling a chip to focus on IP, and last month saw a deal with Interdigital to develop technology for small cell backhaul.
7Gbps 60GHz transceiver IC implemented in 40nm low-power CMOS
IMEC powers ahead with 60GHz building blocks
Infineon samples 60GHz chips for backhaul
UK startup closes $3.1m Angel funding round for 60GHz wireless IP
The UK tech sector has seen its best performance in almost a decade according to a new report from KPMG/Markit Tech Monitor.
Bristol and Bath’s leading tech startups meets the founders and executives at 16 of the most exciting tech startups in Bristol and Bath to find out what attracted them to the city and where they are heading
The University of Southampton has flicked the on-switch for the most powerful university-based supercomputer in England and the third largest academic supercomputing facility in the UK. ‘Iridis4’ will also enter the top ten of the UK’s elite supercomputers.
“Southampton is a leader in High Performance Computing (HPC) and Iridis4 allows us to take another leap forward to keep pace with the needs of our world-class researchers,” said Dr Oz Parchment, Director of Research Computing at the University. “There is an ever increasing demand for the use of supercomputing power for research and this new machine will provide the opportunity for even more academics to work on a greater number of projects, at faster speeds.”
In a deal worth £3.2 million, Southampton’s new supercomputer is powered by IBM Intelligent Cluster solutions and designed, integrated and supported by HPC, data management, storage and analytics company OCF. It is four times more powerful than its predecessor Iridis3 and has 12, 200 Intel Xeon E5-2670 processor cores, a petabyte (or one-million gigabytes) of disc space, with 50 terabytes of memory.
The new machine is one of very few in the UK to include to Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors, which can take control of some of the most demanding mathematical calculations to significantly increase its processing power. The Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors are each capable of running at one teraflop, (one trillion calculations per second).
Iridis4 will mainly be used for research by University staff and students across a wide variety of disciplines, from Engineering to Archaeology – Medicine to Computer Science. 2 It is estimated around 350 projects are likely to run on the machine in the first year.
“Staying ahead of the game in High Performance Computing is vital to help the University stay competitive. Simulation and computation enabled by HPC are recognised globally as the ‘third pillar’ of modern research and this investment will ensure we remain world leaders in this field,” said University of Southampton Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor Philip Nelson.
“The growth of Big Data and the availability of computing power like Iridis4 means that the range of research areas that are enabled by supercomputing continues to grow. We look forward to seeing its impact on the University’s research, already recognised for the range and importance of the science conducted on the supercomputer’s predecessor, Iridis3,” said Steve Legg, IBM’s University Programs Manager in the UK.
Iridis3 will remain in operation, providing an important resource for industrial research through the e-Infrastructure South Consortium that also includes Bristol, Oxford and University College London and operates a ‘Centre of Innovation for the Application of High Performance Computing’. This was set up in 2012 with £3.7 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to upgrade Iridis3 and install resources at Rutherford Appleton Laboratories near Oxford.
Copyright is a thorny problem for the digital economy and companies around the world, and Google’s copyright and takedown process can be a mystery that has dramatic consequences.
Bath-based IT and consultancy firm IPL specialises in data analysis and has publishes its independent report on Google’s copyright notice and takedown process for links in its search results.
Using data gathered on Google’s takedowns over a 12-month period between April 2012 and March 2013, IPL developed a mathematical model to show how well the process is currently working and pinpoint the internal and external factors that affect consistency.
“Our involvement on a high-profile data analysis project such as this one underlines IPL’s strengths in this field and our ability to tackle the problem in an innovative way by modelling a complex process,” said IPL’s CEO Paul Jobbins. “We’re delighted to be informing the debate on what is a very important global issue.”
The report found that despite the volume of requests that Google receives having grown significantly (from less than two million in April 2012 to more than 18 million in March 2013), Google’s performance in terms of timeliness and accuracy has remained consistent.
As well as enabling Google to assess its performance over time, the model can be used by other companies who have to deal with similar takedown requests to perform similar analysis, and to compare this to Google and anyone else using the model.
Moreover, by modelling the relationship between the volume of requests, accuracy and timeliness, Google and others can assess the likely impact of changes to legislation – such as the imposition of a time limit for each takedown request.
“How best to fight copyright infringement online while protecting freedom of expression is a thorny problem,” said Simon Morrison, Google’s EMEA Copyright Public Policy Manager. ” This research shows that Google has done well at balancing these important aims even as the volume of content online has increased enormously.”
You can register for free to access the report on IPL’s website.
A team from the University of Bristol has developed a way to provide feedback from a screen without touching it.
Ultrahaptics in action
The team from the University of Bristol’s Interaction and Graphics (BIG) research group has used a phased array of ultrasonic transmitters to focus high frequency sound onto a target in mid-air. This would be used to provide positive feedback for a gesture-based user interface.
The research paper, to be presented at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) 2013 by Tom Carter from the Department of Computer Science, will unveil UltraHaptics, using ultrasonic vibrations for the first time to deliver tactile sensations to the user. The ultrasonic transducer array emits very high frequency sound waves that can be steered by changing the phase. When all of the sound waves meet at the same location at the same time, they create sensations on a human’s skin.
By carrying out technical evaluations, the team have shown that the system is capable of creating individual points of feedback that are far beyond the perception threshold of the human hand. The researchers have also established the necessary properties of a display surface that is transparent to 40kHz ultrasound.
The results from two user studies have demonstrated that feedback points with different tactile properties can be distinguished at smaller separations. The researchers also found that users are able to identify different tactile properties with training.
Finally, the research team explored three new areas of interaction possibilities that UltraHaptics can provide: mid-air gestures, tactile information layers and visually restricted displays, and created an application for each. Tom Carter, PhD student in the Department of Computer Science’s BIG research group, said: “Current systems with integrated interactive surfaces allow users to walk-up and use them with bare hands. Our goal was to integrate haptic feedback into these systems without sacrificing their simplicity and accessibility.
“To achieve this, we have designed a system with an ultrasound transducer array positioned beneath an acoustically transparent display. This arrangement allows the projection of focused ultrasound through the interactive surface and directly onto the users’ bare hands. By creating multiple simultaneous feedback points, and giving them individual tactile properties, users can receive localised feedback associated to their actions.”
A SouthWest firm is taking delivery of a new 60GHz chipset for gigabit wireless links over several kilometres.
Infineon Technologies has started the production of its BGTx0 chipsets for wireless backhaul communication systems, shipping to Sub10 Systems in Newton Abbot.
The lead customer Sub10 Systems is currently qualifying BGT70 and BGT80 E-band transceivers for an FDD (Frequency Division Duplex) system. Mark Stevens, Chief Technology Officer at Sub10 Systems, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with Infineon on integration of the BGT70 and BGT80 chipset into our newly developed E-band transceiver. We expect high performance and high reliability at the same time, therefore we have chosen the best solution in the market.” The targeted system supports a data rate of more than 1 Gbit/s with link distances of about 2.5 kilometers.
Infineon’s BGTx0 family simplifies system design and production logistics by replacing more than 10 discrete devices by a single device. Due to their low power consumption the single-chip high-integration transceivers also help to reduce operating expenses in high data rate millimeter wave infrastructures
The transceiver family provides a complete radio frequency (RF) front-end for wireless communication in 57-64 GHz, 71-76 GHz, or 81-86 GHz millimeter wave bands. Paired with a baseband/modem, the system solution requires less space, offers improved reliability and lower cost for the critical wireless backhaul links needed in mobile base stations that support LTE/4G networks.
“The wide bandwidth available in V- and E-band millimeter-wave frequencies supports the exploding usage of mobile data with great growth opportunities for Infineon. With our process technology and RF design leadership we offer exactly what the emerging small cell infrastructure requires: highly reliable and easy to use packaged millimeter-wave transceivers,” said Philipp von Schierstaedt, Vice President and General Manager of the Business Unit RF & Protection Devices at Infineon Technologies. “The great interest of customers shows that our BGTx0 family perfectly meets their requirements.”
Each mobile communication standard uses specific frequency bands to transport data. Current standards operate below 43 GHz, known as microwaves. As future standards – like latest LTE/4G – will require more capacity and higher data rates, public authorities have released V- and E-band using millimeter waves. Network operators are expected to invest heavily in small cell infrastructures in the years ahead in order to provide mobile phone users with high speed internet and full network coverage.
Engineering samples of BGTx0 transceivers are already available. Volume production is planned for spring 2014.
The September 2013 newsletter for the High Tech sector group is out now at http://www.swinnovation.co.uk/high-tech-news-newsletter/
- Region launches High Tech Special Interest Groups
- STMicro to close it’s Bristol site
- NVIDIA opens £2m design centre in Bristol
- Bristol opens up quantum computing in the cloud
- Bath plans £100m Innvoation Quarter
- Regions startups raise over £5m
A revolutionary new project called “Qcloud” run by the Centre for Quantum Photonics at the University of Bristol aims to to make the resources for quantum computing available for everybody via the Internet.
Few quantum computers exist and most are currently used in academic research at organisations such as Google and NASA. However, from Friday 20 September, the quantum processor housed at the Centre will become the world’s first open-access system, allowing researchers from anywhere in the world to access it remotely via the internet.
Using the website bristol.ac.uk/quantum-computing schools, academic research institutions and members of the public can log on and access a quantum simulator, which will be accompanied by user guides and manuals to help users get to grips with the basics of quantum computing. Once users are satisfied with the results of their simulation, they can submit their experiment to be run on a real quantum photonic processor.
The move has the potential to place Bristol at the heart of a new capability in apps for quantum computers.
The research team behind this new initiative are keen to open up the possibilities of quantum computing to the next generation of engineers, mathematicians, scientists and entrepreneurs – those in the classroom, as well as the lab, creating a quantum version of the successful Raspberry Pi low cost computer.
Project leader, Professor Jeremy O’Brien said: “This technology has helped accelerate our research and is allowing us to do things we never thought possible. It’s incredibly exciting to think what might be achieved by making this more widely accessible, not only to the brightest minds already working in research, but to the next generation. I hope that by helping schools to access this technology, and working with the British Science Association to provide educational content around quantum computing, we can achieve incredible things.”
Professor Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel Laureate and President of the Royal Society said. “it is very exciting to see this kind of technology being made accessible, not only to research institutions, but to the next generation of scientists. The fact that we can give budding young talent access to some of the most advanced computing technology is something that we, as a nation, should be extremely proud of, and I wish the University Of Bristol the very best of luck with it”
Quantum computing is a stranger affair than classical computing, relying instead on the qubit as its unit of information. The qubit can exist in multiple states at the same time (a phenomenon known as superposition). Calculations are performed by manipulating the state of the qubit. Theoretically, the nature of qubits means they calculate all answers to a mathematical problem simultaneously, and various algorithms can help the computer to indicate which of the solutions the qubits show is the correct one. This can make complex computations exponentially faster than on a classical machine.
Quantum technologies have demonstrated ultra-secure communications through the exchange of Quantum Keys; measurement beyond the classical limits of precision and calculations such as factoring numbers or solving optimisation problems. This has generated considerable interest in quantum computing as its power becomes more widely understood and new applications are developed. Recent publications have described quantum approaches to numerical simulations such as those used in computational fluid dynamics. As quantum technologies become more widely available novel solutions to society’s biggest problems are likely to emerge
A £100m Innovation Quarter in Bath is aiming to create 2500 new high tech jobs in the region.
Bath Innovation Quay will create a business location for the growing ICT, low carbon and creative sectors within the city and will link with the research and academic base in the city’s two Universities. The development, which the Council will be encouraging to come forward by around the start of 2019, would create around 400,000 square feet of modern business space centred on the University of Bath Innovation Centre with up to 170 low carbon homes.
The University Innovation Centre is a core component of the plans. Dr Rob Head, Director of Research Development and Support at the University, said, “Our strong and successful programmes convinced us of the potential to build on these achievements and establish what we have termed our ‘Innovation Campus’. We have been working with the Council on these plans and I am delighted to see this important progress towards creating around 2,500 high technology related jobs within Bath.”
“Bath & North East Somerset Council wants to create a unique, compelling offer for businesses in the creative, digital, and knowledge sectors to relocate,” said Councillor Paul Crossley, leader of Council.
“The prospect of having hi-tech businesses, University research facilities, and places for people to live combining with the buzz of the city and World Heritage Site is simply mouth-watering in terms of opportunities for local people and prosperity for our area. A healthy, smart, zero carbon development will be created that will become the hub for imagination and creativity not just regionally, but worldwide as we take the area’s internationally respected reputation for digital expertise to the next level.”
The development costs for the plan would be around £65 million with the Council seeking a combination of Government money through the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and the private sector.
The main locations that would be used are Newark Works, Avon Street Car Park and Coach Park. Investment worth £7.6 million has already been captured to tackle flood mitigation, highways works, and new footbridge over the river. The Council will also look to obtain £800,000 of funding to relocate the Coach Park.
No details are yet available about those private sector enterprises who would take workspace in Innovation Quay, although the Council says it is fielding considerable interest.
Bath Innovation Quay is one part of the Enterprise Area alongside the Residential Quarter where the Council, Crest Nicholson, Homes and Communities Agency and Curo Group are working together to create new homes and commercial space;
Commercial Quarter, of which Innovation Quay is the main part and the City Gateway comprising of Bath Riverside East and Green Park Station offers the opportunity not only for Sainsbury’s to develop their proposals for a new retail store, but also around 160,000 square feet of office, creative, and bar/ restaurant space.
ASIC designer SWINDON Silicon Systems is celebrating thirty five years of trading. From small beginnings in 1978 in Swindon, the company has grown to become the UK’s largest fabless supplier of high performance mixed signal Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) with a turnover of £21m and delivering 50 million ASICs annually. ASICs allow almost any analogue or digital circuit to be implemented on a single chip, replacing traditional discrete components. Only a few years ago a bespoke integrated circuit was no more than a dream for most industrial designers, but SWINDON has put them within the reach of any technology sector.
By 1987 SWINDON had set up a test department and moved to its current premises with a separate production facility added in 1999. The company’s success in the automotive market led to it becoming part of Tomkins Plc in 2007, assisting it’s sister company, Schrader Electronics, to become the global leader in tyre pressure monitoring systems. Schrader International was acquired by Madison Dearborn Partners in 2012, bringing SWINDON the benefits of being part of a large multinational whilst maintaining its autonomy to pursue other markets. SWINDON is expecting its growth to continue, and a move to a new custom built facility is planned to accommodate this growth.
Bristol-based wireless startup Blu Wireless Technology has closed a $3.1 million (£2m) funding round to customise and productise its chip design for the next generation of high speed wireless connections.
The funding will allow the company to double in size to 30 staff, and complete the development of its HYDRA programmable baseband IP that supports both 802.11ad next generation WiFi (WiGig CERTIFIED) and 4G mobile network backhaul applications that use the 60GHz frequency band rather than today’s 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, giving much higher speed links.
The funding round was lead by Qi3 Accelerator, who represented a syndicate of over $1.5m (£1m) of London Business Angels private investors, including Wren Capital. A further $0.9 million (£0.6m) was invested by the Angel Co-Fund, several additional investors made up the remainder.
Blu Wireless’s baseband technology uses a programmable parallel processing architecture to efficiently support the complex modulation schemes required for emerging multi-gigabit wireless communication standards. The IP is currently optimised for chipsets used in both advanced WiFi and 4G small cell deployments, and can be simply scaled to support the anticipated future standards as they move to 20Gbps and beyond.
The firm is already working with several of the world’s leading chip and system companies in these markets, says CEO Henry Nurser with the same customers using the IP for both 802.11ad and for wireless backhaul. The IP will be sold under license agreement to chipset manufacturers that compete in, or want to enter, markets that exploit the unlicensed 60GHz frequency band.
“With the completion of this funding round, we will be executing our plan to become the leading supplier of baseband system IP to manufacturers in the 60GHz sector,” said Nurser.
“This is a very exciting sector and we are convinced Blu Wireless will be a global leader in 60GHz technology,” said Tim de Vere Green of London-based Qi3 who will also join the board. “We believe 60GHz applications in both consumer WiGig and telecoms backhaul are set for rapid growth, and Blu Wireless is already working with several of the world’s leading Semiconductor companies in these markets. The thorough due diligence we have conducted has given us great confidence in the team’s technical and management capabilities, as well as their deep knowledge of their target markets.”
Wiltshire based contract electronics manufacturer Exception EMS has today announced that its students Henri French and Chris Bogdiukiewicz have both been shortlisted to be part of six South West Regional Finalists for their contribution to business.
The Year in Industry is a scheme run by the Engineering Development Trust (EDT) to provide high quality, paid placements for students in their gap year before or during their degree course. Placements are for students interested in all areas of engineering, science, IT, e- commerce, business and marketing. Exception EMS has worked with the EDT since 2007 by supporting 2-3 YINI placements each year.
Chris, who will be studying Software Engineering at Southampton University, worked with the Operations team at Exception EMS to develop a process to improve the turnaround time and organisation of customer returns. He did this by devising a developing a companywide standard business practice and developed a database to track returns and quality issues. As a result, Exception EMS is now able to track non-confirming products to the source and eliminate causes, decrease return turnaround time and improve overall customer satisfaction.
Mark Davies, Operations Director explains “Chris has bought huge value to our organisation, the completion of this project will support and accelerate our continuous improvement programme and leave a positive legacy of working with YINI students”.
Chris commented, “Working at Exception EMS has given me the opportunity to work on, and own, a variety of projects improving systems and working practices in the company. My YINI has been the most incredible learning experience and has massively developed me as an individual.”
Henri will be studying Aerospace Engineering at Bristol University and his project was the implementation of a lean manufacturing production cell, which he designed to overcome particular quality issues. Through a process of identification and analysis of the issues, Henri was able to design his proposed solution and secure the required funding. As a direct result of Henri’s cell the internal and external reject rates have fallen considerably with tangible financial benefits for the Company.
Mark Davies continued, “in successfully implementing this project, and within timescales, I believe Henri has learnt valuable lessons in many areas as well as providing a genuine solution and benefit to both Exception EMS and its customers, whilst continuing a successful partnership with EDT and YINI.”
Henri commented, “My YINI placement at Exception EMS has given me the skills and experiences that I will take with me wherever I go in the future.”
Henri was one of two winners selected to represent the region at the National Final to be held at the Royal Academy of Engineering on 19th September 2013. He will battle against eight others to become the YINI National winner with a prize of £1000.
The company is headquartered in Calne in the UK, and has offices in Europe and Asia. The CEM business, both in the UK and via its international partners has an electronics manufacturing heritage stretching back over 60 years and serves customers across a variety of sectors including aerospace and defence, transport, oil and gas, automotive, communication architecture, medical, marine, semiconductor, and renewable energy.
Technology company Blur Group is to set up a new R&D centre in Exeter as it said the South West shares the same characteristics for tech clusters as Silicon Valley.
The London company, which develops an e-commerce platform, said it has chosen to establish an R&D centre in Exeter as it is in a “prime position” to become the UK’s leading tech region.
Blur highlighted the area’s universities, track record in innovation and amount of investment secured for start-ups in the region as the main reasons for its choice of location. ”The South West combines innovation and technology excellence, a great mix of universities with both academic and venture focus, and an established reputation in attracting hi-tech firms while providing great incubation and support for earlier stage business,” said Blur chief executive Philip Letts. “”It’s a combination that has worked well for the US and has the potential to do the same in the UK.”
“Choosing this location was very straightforward. In doing so, we’ve received exactly the kind of support from local universities and the county council that reinforces why the South-West will assume the UK tech cluster crown,” he said. “And one ingredient that everyone overlooks in finding the next Silicon Valley was pointed out to me on the first day of my tenure in the Valley – and is very prevalent here – the sea.”
Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council cabinet member for economy and growth, added: “It’s a great story for Devon when successful UK tech ventures decide to locate here and proves our superb infrastructure is teed up for this kind of business.
Blur is headquartered in West London and also has an office in Dallas. It floated on AIM in October.
Justin Rattner, who just stepped down as Intel CTO, discusses mobile computing, the future of Moore’s Law and the new optical interconnect business.
Today, even as the PC market shrinks and the giant company struggles to convince phone and tablet makers to use its chips, Intel spends $10.1 billion on research annually. Justin Rattner, who has been the company’s CTO until stepping down last week, recently met with MIT Technology Review to argue that this investment will help Intel’s mobile chips overtake those of its competitors and create new businesses.
A device that trains the brain to turn sounds into images could be used as an alternative to invasive treatment for blind and partially-sighted people researchers in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath have found.
The vOICe sensory substitution device helps blind people to use sounds to build an image in their minds of the things around them.
A research team, led by Dr Michael Proulx, looked at how blindfolded sighted participants responded to an eye test using the device.
They were asked to perform a standard eye chart test called the Snellen Tumbling E test, which asked participants to view the letter E turned in four different directions and in various sizes. Normal, best-corrected visual acuity is considered 20/20, calculated in terms of the distance (in feet) and the size of the E on the eye chart.
The participants, even without any training in the use of the device, were able to perform the best performance possible, nearly 20/400. This limit appears to be the highest resolution currently possible with the ever-improving technology.
Dr Michael Proulx said: “This level of visual performance exceeds that of the current invasive technique for vision restoration, such as stem cell implants and retinal prostheses after extensive training.
“A recent study found successful vision at a level of 20/800 after the use of stem cells. Although this might improve with time and provide the literal sensation of sight, the affordable and non-invasive nature of The vOICe provides another option.
“Sensory substitution devices are not only an alternative, but might also be best employed in combination with such invasive techniques to train the brain to see again or for the first time.”
The findings are reported in the paper How well do you see what you hear? The acuity of visual-to-auditory sensory substitution, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, as part of a special topic in Cognitive Science on synaesthesia research.
The research team included the inventor of The vOICe sensory substitution device, Dr Peter Meijer of The Netherlands, and Alastair Haigh and Dave Brown of Queen Mary University of London.
Prof Peter Higgs, the scientist who gave his name to the Higgs boson or ‘God particle’, is to be awarded the freedom of the city of Bristol.
The retired Edinburgh University physicist – who went to Cotham Grammar School - predicted the existence of the subatomic particle, which is thought to have been detected by the Large Hadron Collider last year. The school was visited by Prof Higgs in May last year and he will be recognised for his work at a ceremony this week.
“I think it is a wonderful thing and it is great that Bristol has recognised somebody who is clearly an original and creative scientist,” said Dr Malcolm Willis, headteacher at Cotham School.
Almost 40 years after Prof Higgs wrote two scientific papers on his theory, the discovery of a new particle that fitted the description of the elusive Higgs was announced at Cern in Geneva.
Dr Joel Goldstein, from the Cern project and a University of Bristol physicist, said: “Peter Higgs made some very important contributions to fundamental physics in the 1960s and his work really underpinned our current understanding of the way that the fundamental laws of nature work.
“Every physics student in their final year as an undergraduate or when they become a graduate student, learns about the theory that Higgs and his colleagues developed and everyone learns about the particle, so he is one of those big names that everyone has to know about. As a UK citizen, as a Bristolian and as a physicist, I am really very proud of what Higgs achieved and the recognition he is getting.”
Bristol was also the birth place of another famous physicist, Paul Dirac (1902-1984) who was born in the city and developed a key equiation for quantum mechanics.
Science and engineering students have until 16 September to apply for paid bursaries totalling £25,000 with a leading global research and development consultancy.
Sagentia, which undertakes innovation, technology and product development work globally on behalf of leading organisations and start-ups in the medical, industrial and consumer products sectors, is offering 10 bursaries of £2,500 to support science and engineering students during the academic year starting September 2013.
Bath is one of four universities to benefit from the new bursaries which are on offer to students currently studying or have accepted a place on a range of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) courses. The others are Cambridge (where Sagentia is based), Oxford, Southampton, Loughborough, Surrey and Imperial College London.
Dan Edwards, Managing Director at Sagentia, commented: “Sagentia has a strong track record of providing exciting career opportunities to talented STEM students, who join us in applying cutting edge scientific and engineering thinking with the world’s most innovative and successful businesses. The company is launching the Sagentia STEM Bursary Scheme to help financially support the brightest prospects in the next generation of innovators as a key component of Sagentia’s graduate programme and focus on innovation.”
“This investment in the education of British STEM students aligns PLC corporate social responsibility with the future requirements of Sagentia as a science and engineering company,” said Bath alumni Martyn Ratcliffe, Executive Chairman and lead investor in Sagentia. “The UK has a well-deserved reputation for innovation, built on the UK’s world leading science and engineering universities. Sagentia’s future growth is dependent on increasing this excellent resource pool and the success of the company in recent years enables Sagentia to now make this investment.”
Professor Bernie Morley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning & Teaching, said: “Innovation is a top priority at Bath, and we believe that the best young talent shouldn’t be held back by financial worries. That’s why we’re delighted to be part of the Sagentia bursary scheme. It will help us to attract and retain the next generation of bright minds in STEM subjects, improving skills and employability for students from low income families.”
Eligible courses include Chemistry, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, Engineering, Life Sciences, Mathematics, Materials Science, Mechanical Engineering, Physics, Product Design, or similar. Successful applicants will also be given preferential consideration for paid 10 week summer placements with Sagentia in 2014. Sagentia has provided opportunities to interns since 2000 with many going on to work for the company after graduating.
More information about how to apply can be found here. Deadline for entries is 16 September 2013.