West of England LEP launches High Tech newsletter

January 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Exclusive, News 

A new publication is now covering the high tech activities in the wider Bristol and Bath region from the Future Smart City to the latest chip developments.

HighTech News comes from the High Tech Sector group of the West of England Local Economic Partnership (LEP). The group supports the wide  range of  activities in microelectronics and embedded software and systems and feeds back into the LEP that determines the wider strategies for growth and development in the region. The West of England is the only LEP to have a group specifically focussed on technology, demonstrating the  strength and skills in the region.

The six page February issue covers new funding for Future City developments, as well as a proposed £24m growth fund for innovation in the region. New technology centres are being set up by power company TDK-Lambda and subsea technology from GE. Bristol silicon chip maker XMOS is now supplying the widest range of  multicore microcontrollers in the industry, while the Universities of Bath and Exeter are collaborating in a joint graphene research centre.

High Tech News is published by SW Innovation News.

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Bristol wins £3m ‘second prize’ for Future City development

January 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Events, Exclusive 

While Bristol lost out to Glasgow for the Future City demonstrator project, the TSB judges rated the city’s bid very highly, so much so that they have awarded a £3m ‘runners-up’ prize.
“While there is some disappointment that we did not gain the main prize, Bristol is now the only city in the UK to have won funding from Government to be both a Super Connected City and a Future City.” said Mayor George Ferguson. “Bringing these awards together gives us a pot of nearly £15m with which we can move really quickly to lever-in additional funding and support from business to help deliver our plans.”
“We are fast becoming the UK’s creative capital, a city of experimentation and a city that offers a warm welcome,” he said. “Our achievement in beating more than 30 other cities to win government funding for Future Cities is testament to our ambitions and our strong partnership approach with both the city’s universities, businesses and partners such as Watershed and Knowle West Media Centre.”

A round up of the tech news from the Bristol and Bath region is in February edition of the the new LEP High Tech newsletter

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£600m science and technology opportunities for SW region

January 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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David Willetts

The UK government has detailed funding to boost its vision of science and technology, with the South West seeing significant opportunities.

The key investment is £189 million for big data and energy efficient computing to build on the research base’s capacity for analysing big data sets, in areas like earth observation and medical science, but there are other significant areas of funding.

There is a £35 million for centres of excellence in robotics and autonomous systems aiming to bring together the research base and industry. The Bristol Robotics Lab is the largest in Europe and at the forefront of such developments. Science and universities minister David Willetts (right) also announced a £1m Technology Strategy Board competition to help to accelerate the development of concepts where robots are able to interact with each other and humans.

There will also be £25 million of additional funding for the National Space Technology Programme for the development of commercial products and services using space technology and data from space-based systems which can benefit space technology companies in the region such as SciSys in Bristol.

There is also £45 million for new facilities and equipment for advanced materials research in areas of UK strength such as advanced composites, high-performance alloys, low-energy electronics and telecommunications, as well as £28 million to the National Composites Centre in Bristol.

In newer areas such as smart grid, the government plans to invest £30 million to create dedicated R&D facilities to develop and test new grid scale storage technologies, an area where the region is strong withthe Low Carbon South West group.

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South West research universities team up in new GW4 group

January 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Collaboration, Events 

The Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter today announced a formal collaboration, to boost research expertise and capability in the South West of England and Wales.

The collaboration will explore and identify opportunities for combined research to address global challenges, while also maximising the impact of and return on investment from research funding.

The group of four research intensive universities, each of which have significant research capabilities and which represent a total turnover in excess of £1,300 million, will be known as the GW4. There are already strong partnerships across the four institutions and the collaboration seeks to build on these.

Professor Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, said:  “Regional groupings of research intensive universities are a rapidly emerging and important evolution, enabling the sharing of research infrastructure and the identification of thematic areas of expertise.  These will be increasingly important in order for universities to address grand intellectual and societal challenges.”

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Bath, said: “The collective strength of the new grouping is much more than the sum of its individual parts. Taken together, the breadth and depth of our research expertise is truly impressive providing a powerful new contender in the increasingly intense competition for research funding on both the national and international level.”

Cardiff University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan, said: “We want to enhance Cardiff’s world-leading research and reputation by creating a critical mass of research excellence with other UK universities. In a competitive higher education sector we need to find new ways for Wales to compete for research income.

“Working in collaboration with fellow research-intensive Universities will help us to succeed in research and tackle some of society’s biggest research challenges. Critical mass is the key to success and the combined research excellence of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter will give Cardiff – and Wales – a new and competitive edge that will place us at the forefront not only in the UK, but internationally.”

Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter, said: “This is a vital development for ensuring the growth and development of world class research in the South West and Wales. It gives us the critical mass and the quality to succeed in an increasingly competitive and research-intensive environment. The four universities already have a strong tradition of working together and GW4 will take that collaboration to a new level.”

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Bristol ‘too affluent’ for smart city cash

January 25, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: News 

Bristol has lost out to Glasgow for the £24m Future City demonstrator, with the affluence of the region being a key factor.

“Glasgow has some quite extreme challenges – it has the lowest life expectancy of any city in the UK for instance – and the hope is that if we bring together energy, transport, public safety and health it will make it more efficient and a better place to live,” said Scott Cain, the TSB’s project leader for Future Cities, talking to the BBC.

That view was backed up by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts. “With more people than ever before living in our cities, they need to be able to provide people with a better quality of life and a thriving economy,” he said. “From transport systems to energy use and health, this demonstrator will play a key part in the government’s industrial strategy and give real insight into how our cities can be shaped in the future,” he added.

Bristol made the shortlist of four for the demonstrator but the choice of Glasgow was a surprise, even though  it was the first UK city to win the smart city status from IBM in March 2011, and gained key experience on IT systems and sensors. Bristol’s Smart City programme was also launched in March 2011 with funding from the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change and in August 2011 it over

£300,000 from the EU for two projects as part of its Smart City Programme.

“Industry expectations have been overturned throughout this competition, and this result, too, will surprise many,” said Joe Dignan, Chief analyst for European Public Sector at market researcher Ovum. Initially, the smart money was on Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds + Bradford or Manchester to scoop the prize, given their level of preparation. However, only Bristol joined the shortlist alongside Glasgow, Peterborough and London. Peterborough was considered the wild card, while most felt London had already been given more than its fair share of the public purse in the lead up to the Olympics.

“Glasgow’s success reflects a global trend in the development of future cities being presaged by a major global event. Although it was considered the outsider in this race, its preparation for the 2014 Commonwealth Games was the catalyst to get the right people around the table to look at the performance of the city as a whole,” he added. ” There is no doubt that the judging process was objective and Glasgow’s bid excellent, but one can be sure that Westminster is happy to show its commitment to Scotland at the current time.”

The demonstrator will include better services for Glaswegians, with real-time information about traffic and apps to check that buses and trains are on time. The council will also create an app for reporting issues such as potholes and missing bin collections.

Other services promised by the council include linking up the CCTV cameras across the city with its traffic management unit in order to identify traffic incidents faster.

It will use analytical software and security cameras to help identify and prevent crime in the city and monitor energy levels to find new ways of providing gas and electricity to poorer areas where fuel poverty is a big issue.


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Street furniture comes alive in Bristol in world’s first digital playground

January 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

Lamp posts, bus stops and post boxes will soon play an even more important role in how Bristol operates as the result of a £30,000 award which will change the way people interact with the city.

The Watershed has announced Hello Lamp Post! as the winner of Bristol’s first ever Playable City Award, which attracted 93 entries from around the world.

The new art and technology project invites audiences to tune in to the secret conversations of the city and communicate through lamp posts, bus stops, post boxes and other street furniture this summer. Part game, part story, anyone can play by texting in a unique code found on the city’s familiar street objects.

“Hello Lamp Post! is hugely exciting and the University is pleased to support this fantastic initiative which supports Bristol’s rightful place on the global cultural map,” said David Alder, Director of Marketing and Communications at the University of Bristol

Lamp posts, bus stops and post boxes are the goosebumps of the city and so ubiquitous that they have become invisible. The ‘smart city’ approach is to augment them with technologies like digital displays, but Hello Lamp Post! seeks instead to make them playable, using existing city infrastructure to make an open, hospitable and playful experience which encourages people to notice and interact with what is around them.

The project will utilise the codes that city councils and public servants use to tell one object from another when a light bulb needs changing or a bus stop is in need of repair. For the first time, city dwellers will be able to use these codes too in order to play a game and tell a story.

The £30,000 commission seeks to create an original, future-facing work, which uses creative technology to explore the theme of the playable city and is supported by a network of organisations who exemplify Bristol’s strength in creative technologies, including the University of Bristol which acts as a partner and ambassador for the project.

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