Management Today cites Silicon Gorge in Bristol and chipmaker Icera (alongside Silicon Fen in Cambridge and Silicon Roundalout in East London) as a one of the eight ways to get Britian going again.
Bristol-based outsourcing and energy company Mitie has spent £14.6m on five businesses that are part of its start-up ‘Mitie Model’ scheme.
Bath-based Attinger Jack Interactive (AJi), which owns voucher codes website Promocodes.co.uk, has bought Whopaysfullprice.com for an undisclosed sum.
Cornish business Ethical Power has raised £2.4m to install and maintain solar PV panels through a new joint venture company. The business will install 50kw PV systems at sites throughout the South West after securing the money from Downing LLP.
The South West is set to benefit from faster connection speeds after the region was allocated £55.2m to improve broadband. It comes after the government allocated £362m nationally to improve broadband connections.
The number of mergers and acquisitions in the South West during the half of 2011 has fallen by 37 per cent, compared with the same period in 2010.
Three SW research labs are part of a new website that brings together some of the most advanced information and communication technology (ICT) projects in Europe.
The Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme of the European Commission has launched FET-House to help young people to understand what their options are as regards the career in science and technology, and bring across some of the excitement of people who have a passion for science.
The projects include the Bristol Robotics Lab, the International Centre of Unconventional Computing at UWE and the Science and Engineering of Natural Systems Group and Nano Research Group at the University of Southampton.
The website showcases topics such as zero-power computation and communication, robotics, quantum technology, understanding the brain, or data privacy. The themes will be linked to demos, videos and write-ups of a selection of related projects, as well as to people working in the field who are able to excite others about their work.
- SETsquared showcases cutting-edge SW technologies (swinnovation.co.uk)
- Smart City funding boost for Bristol (swinnovation.co.uk)
- £16million injection into SW creative industries (swinnovation.co.uk)
The submarine telegraph cable is one of the iconic technologies of the 19th century, enabling the British Empire to expand its business interests, communicate and manage its colonies around the globe.
Dr Richard Noakes, a historian at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus is researching the role of commercial telegraphic firms, such as the Eastern Telegraph and Associated Companies (ETAC), whose long-distance underwater cable went out from Porthcurno, Cornwall, to countries around the world.
Dr Noakes’ current research re-evaluates the British industrial approach to research and development in the Victorian period. He looks at how companies like the ETAC were involved in developing technical solutions to telegraphic problems.
The late 19th and early 20th century submarine telegraph business is often seen as being largely resistant to radical technological change. Historians generally believe that operators and manufacturers of cables saw improvement to cable design as being unnecessary and undesirable because of the longevity and cost of cables. The telegraph business was dominated by the ETAC, which faced weak competition and so had little incentive to develop new ways of delivering its service.
Through research at the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, Dr Noakes has found that the ETAC developed a form of research and development which was more extensive than previously assumed. Even though its scale was dwarfed by that in American electrical firms, it established an in-house laboratory in 1902 and hired a strong team of scientific consultants from and electrical staff who worked on complex problems of cable signalling.
“The case of ETAC demonstrates the need for a more nuanced understanding of British industrial resesarch and development,” said Noakes. “The ETAC focused on incremental improvements to existing technologies which was appropriate for a large service sector firms. It also sought to minimise the costs and risks associated with technological change.”
The British Society for the History of Science (BSHS) has also launched an online Travel Guide for places with ties to the history of science, technology and medicine including places like the Porthcurno Telegraph station.
- Exeter Vice-Chancellor honoured with knighthood (universitiesuk.wordpress.com)
- New group to spearhead science and technology innovation in Exeter (swinnovation.co.uk)
- Exeter pioneers 3D printing in chocolate (swinnovation.co.uk)
- Exeter develops magneto-optical sensor for detecting malaria (swinnovation.co.uk)
Bristol has received funding from the EU for its pioneering work combining energy saving and ICT. The European Commission has given the city council more than £300,000 for two projects as part of its Smart City Programme and work will start in the New Year.
The first project will develop a model to monitor energy usage within public buildings such as schools. The City Council will work in partnership with a British systems manufacturer and over 30 partners across Europe, including IBM and CISCO.
The second project will support the further implementation of electric vehicles in Bristol through the development of web-based tools to highlight important information for electric vehicle users such as charging locations and links to public transport options.
This follows the launch in the spring by Council Leader Barbara Janke of the first electric car charging units to be installed in city council car parks.
“This recognition by the EU of Bristol’s pioneering work on the importance of green technology is very welcome. This is exactly why we commissioned one of the UK’s leading experts, Dr Chris Tuppen, to recommend how Bristol can take forward this agenda,” said council leader Cllr Barbara Janke. “His report shows that there are real benefits to be gained in terms of reducing our emissions through the use of user-friendly data and technology. The more information that we have as consumers, the more likely it is that we choose to go green and save energy.”
“Smart cities will rely on high quality information streams which are used for everything from effective energy management to integrated transport systems. This data will also need to be presented to users in simple and engaging ways. This new funding will help Bristol develop the necessary systems and help it on its path to becoming one of Europe’s leading smart cities,” said Dr Chris Tuppen.
Bristol’s Smart City programme was launched in March 2011 with the assistance of funding from the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change. The City Council commissioned Dr Tuppen to write the Smart City Bristol Study. His report recommends three key areas as a focus for Bristol’s smart city work:
- smart grid and meters,
- smart transport and
- smart data.
These areas could cover innovative energy efficient urban energy, transport, ICT, water and waste solutions.
- Smart Cities Conferences (urbanplanningblog.com)
- Why The U.S. Government Should Embrace Smart Cities (fastcompany.com)
The Department for Health at the University of Bath has developed new interactive technology to help improve the lives of people with dementia, the elderly and disabled people. The academics who have produced the two new applications: In Touch and If Only are now seeking feedback from patients and their carers.
In Touch is an easy to use video communication system developed specifically for elderly users and those with dementia to help them feel more socially included.
It has a touch-screen interface which enables people with dementia to participate in virtual visits with friends and relatives who can’t be with them in person through a two-way video link.
In Touch differs from current video links, such as web cams, as it provides a wide view of the family living room or kitchen, where the person with dementia could, for example, watch and hear their grandchildren playing.
The second application, If Only, is designed for smartphones and encourages users to upload videos and photographs of everyday problems encountered by elderly and disabled people.
For example a person who is only able to use one hand may find it difficult to operate a standard tin opener. These videos and images will then be viewed by designers who will endeavour to create innovative new products to tackle these issues.
The University is now asking people who could use this technology to test the new applications and provide some feedback.
Carers are being asked to comment on design aspects, such as whether they would prefer the system to be integrated with their television set or to remain as a separate screen.
Professor Christopher Eccleston, who led the development of the If Only application, said: “The goal is to bring together people with disabilities, behavioural scientists, and design innovators, and offer them a challenge to find ways to make more relevant and effective products.”
Lisa Austin from the University’s Bath Research & Development primary care consortium added: “Feedback bring us in direct contact with the public, which gives our local researchers encouragement for our ideas to make things better. By sharing thoughts and hearing the views and experiences of the group members, researchers are able to develop more relevant research into problems faced by carers and create innovative design solutions.”
If you are a carer, stroke survivor or chronic pain patient and would like more information, please email Inclusive Design Research Assistant Sarah Rook at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01225 383897 or visit this link
- €500,000 Grant for Dementia Database (prweb.com)
The University of Bath is to play a key role in a new Creative Hub for the region.
The Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has unveiled four new Hubs and pledged an investment of around £16 million over four years. The four new Hubs will have the task of building new partnerships and entrepreneurial capacity in the creative economy and increasing the number of arts and humanities researchers actively engaged in research-based knowledge exchange.
The University of the West of England (UWE) has been chosen to lead one of the Hubs and is teaming up with the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter and Cardiff, as well as Bristol’s Watershed and a wide range of creative industry partners, to form the new Research & Enterprise in Arts & Creative Technologies Hub (REACT).
Engagement with the partners was managed for Bath by the Research Development & Support Office (RDSO).
Dr Danae Stanton Fraser, Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, will sit on the Hub’s management committee. She added: “The University of Bath is co-investigator on this new Knowledge Exchange Hub which has been established to boost the region’s creative economy. We are delighted to be engaged in this exciting initiative working closely with the collaborating Universities and the Watershed to support transformative arts, humanities and technology research.”
The Hub will be based in the Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio, which was established in 2008 and brings together artists, technologists and academics to explore the future of creative technologies.
The UK’s creative economy – which includes the creative industries as well as museums, galleries, libraries, orchestras and theatres – is, relative to GDP, probably the largest creative sector in the world. As the major focus of AHRC’s new knowledge exchange and impact strategy for 2011-2015, the Hubs will encourage significant interactions between research and the Creative Economy which will generate wider social, economic and cultural benefits.
David Willetts, Minister for Universities & Science said: “Interaction between businesses and universities is crucial for driving growth. It enables businesses and organisations to benefit from our world-class research base, gaining new knowledge and ideas. This major investment will not only enrich the creative industries but is also a vote of confidence in the excellent arts and humanities research at our higher education institutions.”
CEO of the AHRC and Chair of the assessment panel which made the awards Professor Rick Rylance, added: “The UK is outstanding at many things and leads the world in some. Of these the quality and innovation of our research and the dynamism of our creative economy are two that stand out. These AHRC Creative Economy Hubs offer the opportunity to unite these sectors to the benefit of both sides and the country as a whole. The successful consortia emerged from an exceptionally strong field. We congratulate them; look forward to working closely with them over the next four years; and to welcoming the results of their work.”
Two University and NHS research partnerships in Bristol have been awarded £11.5 million for research into cardiovascular disease, nutrition, diet and lifestyle. The funding forms part of a Government initiative to enable the country’s top scientists to develop new scientific discoveries into groundbreaking medicines, treatments and better care for NHS patients.
“This investment will see scientists in Bristol contribute to the UK-wide development of exciting new science into tangible, effective treatments that can be used across the NHS,” said Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley. ”It means that patients will see real improvements in early diagnosis, survival rates and living a more independent and better quality of life.”
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) award is part of an £800 million five-year investment to leading NHS and university partnerships, representing the UK’s largest ever Government funding in ‘early stage’ health research to develop advances in disease diagnosis, prevention and treatment.
The £11.5 million award will be used to fund medical research at two Biomedical Research Units (BRUs) at the University of Bristol and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust to benefit patients with diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
“This is a fantastic demonstration of the quality of the science undertaken at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Bristol, it is a very welcome award that will directly benefit patients in the future,” said Professor Wynick, Director of Research for University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and North Bristol NHS Trust.
The Bristol Biomedical Research Unit at the University of Bristol Dental Hospital aims to optimise nutrition to improve the health of children with chronic disorders, develop nutritional and lifestyle interventions in men with prostate cancer, optimise the nutrition of people undergoing surgery or other major hospital treatment, develop interventions to reduce sedentary time in people with Type II diabetes and to identify further interventions for patients. The unit will also provide training in nutritional research methods for clinicians and non-clinical scientists to strengthen future clinical research in this area.
The Bristol Biomedical Research Unit at the Bristol Heart Institute will conduct research into cardiovascular disease.
Professor Gianni Angelini, Director of the Cardiac Unit at the Bristol Heart Institute, British Heart Foundation Chair of Cardiac Surgery at the University of Bristol and Co-Director of the Bristol Cardiovascular BRU, said: “The award of the NIHR BRU has created a state-of-the-art facility, inspiring collaboration between scientists and clinicians to translate new research insights into benefits for patients. We can now perform internationally competitive research and at the same time train the next generation of cardiovascular scientists and clinicians.”
The BRU into cardiovascular disease will enable some of the best health researchers and clinicians to lead studies into a broad range of areas such as heart disease in children, research into stem cell and platelet function as well as imaging.
The partnerships announced today will collaborate with industry and charities, helping to develop the country’s science and research base and secure the UK as a world leader in health research.
“The NHS in England has become one of the best environments in the world for undertaking cutting edge translational research,” said Sir John Bell, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences. “This is creating real opportunities for improving the health of patients, as well as positioning the UK as a preferred site for clinical development by the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. Much of this capability is the result of careful and strategic investment in research infrastructure by the NIHR. The Biomedical Research Centres and Units are an excellent example of this investment and have transformed the relationship between hospitals and the research community.”
The £800 million funding over five years through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is part of the Government’s £4 billion investment in Research and Development.
JISC Digital Media is hosted at the Institute for Learning and Research Technology (ILRT) at the University of Bristol.
StartUp Britain has chosen to start it’s summer bus tour in Bristol, identified as one of 14 entrepreneurial hotspots.
Experts from the SETsquared Business Acceleration will be on hand to offer business mentoring support and coaching as part of the initiative, which will be stationed at The Paintworks, Bath Road, on Monday, 22 August between 9am and 11.30am.
The aim is to celebrate, inspire and accelerate new and existing small businesses by providing expert advice and mentoring.
StartUp Britain was launched by the private sector in response to the Government’s call for an ‘enterprise-led’ recovery from the financial crises and has been backed by David Cameron.
SETsquared will be one of the selected business leaders, experts and entrepreneurs offering business advice, speed mentoring and speed networking aboard the bus.
Nick Sturge, Centre Director of SETsquared at Bristol University, said: “It’s great that this tour kicks off in Bristol, one of the leading locations for technology companies in the UK. We are delighted to be offering expert mentoring support to Bristol’s up and coming talent.”
SETsquared is the enterprise collaboration between five universities – Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey. It supports new businesses, both university spin-outs and from the wider community, through its business incubation and acceleration centres.
At the Bristol centre alone, SETsquared has helped its members raise investment funds of over £53million in the last four years.
Emma Jones, Co-founder and Interim Chief Executive of StartUp Britain, said: “We will be meeting with students and helping them turn ideas into ventures and we’ll be visiting employees moving from employment into self-employment. I look forward to welcoming hundreds of start-ups and small businesses on board.”
- Bristol hosts technology ‘mission’ from London (swinnovation.co.uk)
- SETsquared showcases cutting-edge SW technologies (swinnovation.co.uk)
- SETsquared links up with local angel group as funding recovers (swinnovation.co.uk)
- The future of UK business 2011: Super Cities and Local High Tech Heroes (thenextwomen.com)
Michael Leach, chief executive of ITSO talks about the challenges of smartcard systems for the proposed integrated transport in Bristol and the South West
Dramatic simplification paves the way for building a quantum computer
An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bristol has demonstrated a new technique that dramatically simplifies quantum circuits, bringing quantum computers closer to reality.
Dr Xiao-Qi Zhou and colleagues at the University of Bristol’s Centre for Quantum Photonics and the University of Queensland, Australia, have shown that controlled operations — ones that are implemented on the condition that a ‘control bit’ is in the state 1 — can be dramatically simplified compared to the standard approach. The researchers believe their technique will find applications across quantum information technologies, including precision measurement, simulation of complex systems, and ultimately a quantum computer — a powerful type of computer that uses quantum bits (qubits) rather than the conventional bits used in today’s computers.
Unlike conventional bits or transistors, which can be in one of only two states at any one time (1 or 0), a qubit can be in several states at the same time and can therefore be used to hold and process a much larger amount of information at a greater rate.
A major obstacle in building a quantum computer is the complexity of the quantum circuits required. As with conventional computers, quantum algorithms are constructed from a small number of elementary logic operations. Controlled operations are at the heart of the majority of important quantum algorithms. The traditional method to realize controlled operations is to decompose them into the elementary logic gate set. However, this decomposition is very complex and prohibits the building of even small-scale quantum circuits.
The researchers now show a completely new way to approach this problem. “By using an extra degree of freedom of quantum particles, we can realize the control operation in a novel way. We have constructed several controlled operations using this method,” said Dr Xiao-Qi Zhou, research fellow working on this project. “This will significantly reduce the complexity of the circuits for quantum computing.”
“The new approach could be the most important development in quantum information science over the coming years,” said Professor Jeremy O’Brien, director of the Centre for Quantum Photonics. “It provides a dramatic reduction in quantum circuit complexity — the major barrier to the development of more sophisticated quantum algorithms — just at the time that the first quantum algorithms are being demonstrated.”
The team now plans to apply this technique to implement some important quantum algorithms. The paper, ’Adding control to arbitrary unknown quantum operation‘s by Xiao-Qi Zhou, Timothy C. Ralph, Pruet Kalasuwan, Mian Zhang, Alberto Peruzzo, Benjamin P. Lanyon and Jeremy L. O’Brien is published in Nature Communications
- Novel breakthrough brings quantum computers closer to reality (news.bioscholar.com)
- Researchers Reduce Complexity of Circuits for Quantum Computing (azonano.com)
The leading role of the silicon industry in the SouthWest has been profiled in The Economist. The piece focusses on Prof David May of XMOS Semiconductor as well as Nigel Toon of Icera and now CEO of picoChip.
Bristol University’s SETsquared incubator unit for innovative new technology businesses last week hosted a get-together of some of the UK’s leading young technology companies. Prominent amongst these were a number of new Bristol technology firms, including DocCom who have helped organise the visit.
In January 2011 SETsquared-based healthcare technology company DocCom was identified by the UK Technology Strategy Board as one of the UK’s top 20 emerging health tech companies. This resulted in DocCom being invited to participate in the UK Trade and Investment’s “Future Health Mission” trip to Silicon Valley USA, where the best of new British healthcare technology was showcased to the American high tech and investor communities.
“Bristol is always an exciting place for ideas-led new technology companies, and today we are really pleased to have the chance to give our London-based innovator friends a taste of that atmosphere,” said Dr Jonathon Shaw, co-founder of DocCom. “SETsquared is the obvious place to host any coming together of the brightest and best in emerging UK technology companies, as they are noted for the support and encouragement given to emerging South West technology businesses like DocCom or Brightpearl. We are looking forward to a stimulating day of shared ideas and best entrepreneurial practice, as well as an opportunity to show off Bristol’s new technology credentials”.
The Technology Mission from London to Bristol brings together innovative, entrepreneurial technology companies for a day of ideas exchange, as well as allowing out-of-town technology firms to see first-hand what gives Bristol its reputation as a breeding ground for technology innovation and successful start-up businesses.
“London companies need to get out more. Bristol is a fantastic city and home to some great companies,” said Oli Barrett, senior account manager for Polecat which helped to organise the US trip. “This is a one-day ‘mission’ which will help companies based in London and Bristol to meet, share and plot together”.
In addition to DocCom, new technology companies and their followers who took part in the Mission day include:
Viadeo, Coull, Netsight, Glow Creative, X-Digital, OneLeap, SubHub, Firebox, Level 29, The Sandpit, The Long Run Venture, Shell Livewire, Skyscanner, Brightpearl, NetTek Ltd, TechHub, The Filter, Like Minds, Cognac Systems, Plexus Technology Ventures, Churnbar Ltd, Cassie Robinson, WildIrishGuy Productions, The Mowgli Foundation, Conscious Solutions, Eden Ventures and Science City Bristol Ltd.
- Rumor: Bristol to develop 200 mph hybrid supercar (inautonews.com)
- Brightpearl aims at the US from Bristol (swinnovation.co.uk)
- SETsquared showcases cutting-edge SW technologies (swinnovation.co.uk)
- Bristol professor to give Christmas Lectures (swinnovation.co.uk)
- SETsquared links up with local angel group as funding recovers (swinnovation.co.uk)
- Bristol starts offering its research for free (swinnovation.co.uk)
- Wave power drives SETSquared international studentship (swinnovation.co.uk)
- Brightpearl scores another $5m from Notion and Eden for its cloud-based solution for SMEs (eu.techcrunch.com)
The first Student Conference on Complexity Science is taking place this week in Winchester with feature over 80 presentations demonstrating how the discipline is addressing challenges such as global sustainability, energy, climate, finance and technology.
The conference is being organised by PhD students from the University of Southampton’s Institute for Complex Systems Simulation (ICSS) and will bring together complexity science students from across the UK and particularly the UK’s three EPSRC Doctoral Training Centres at the Universities of Bristol, Southampton and Warwick.
The students will present their current work during the conference, addressing research problems spanning a broad range of scientific disciplines such as social science and economics, climate and earth science, biomedical and neural systems, ecosystems, biodiversity and sustainability, physical systems and materials science, cell biology, molecular biology and biochemical systems, the web, critical infrastructure and techno-social systems, networks science, evolution, and language.
Lord Robert May, distinguished professor, former president of the Royal Society and chief Government scientist, will deliver a keynote speech on Friday 5 August in which he will present his latest work with the Bank of England’s Executive Director for Financial Stability, Andy Haldane, on how techniques pioneered to model complex biological ecosystems can be used to deal with systemic risk in financial “ecosystems” in order to avoid financial disasters such as the ones experienced globally over the last half-decade.
The second keynote speaker on Saturday 6 August is Luis Amaral, Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Northwestern University, who is a world authority and pioneer in network science. His research aims to address some of the most pressing challenges facing human societies, including the mitigation of errors in healthcare settings, the characterisation of the conditions fostering innovation and creativity, and the growth limits imposed by sustainability.
The students will address a wide range of subjects. A public engagement study by James Crossley at Manchester Metropolitan University will look at how complexity science can be used to conduct studies of zombie, vampire and werewolf attacks on a population. Other interesting contributions involve using complexity science for mathematical modelling of cell fate regulatory networks by Sonya Ridden, University of Southampton; decoding the statistics of neural networks by Marc Box, University of Bristol, and game theoretic models of crime prevention by Hemant Pasi, University of Warwick.
The conference main themes are:
• Core Research in Complexity Science
• Physical and Engineered Complexity
• Biological and Environmental Complexity
• Socio-economic and Socio-technological Complexity.
Professor Seth Bullock, who directs the Institute for Complex Systems Simulation (ICSS) at the University of Southampton, said: “The UK is investing significant sums in training and supporting the next generation of complexity scientists because they are able to bring a new set of tools to bear on critically important interdisciplinary research challenges, such as those surrounding issues of global sustainability, energy, climate, finance and technology. This conference is the first chance for the UK’s complexity science PhD students to come together as a community and learn from each other.”
- Southampton engineers produce plane with 3D printer (swinnovation.co.uk)
A high-performance supercar and superbike designed to smash the stereotype of electric vehicles are among the show stoppers at a major international environmental trade show and conference being hosted in Bristol in October at UWE.