Bristol and Bath boosts silicon and high tech with £2m investment

February 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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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 pumps £2m into silicon and high tech 

IPL models Google’s copyright process for the digital economy

October 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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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.

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Bath plans £100m innovation quarter

September 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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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.

Bath Enterprise areas

Bath Enterprise areas

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.

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Seeing with your ears – new device offers alternative to blind people

July 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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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.

Read more here


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Global R&D consultancy offers £25K STEM bursaries at Bath

July 9, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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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.


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Xsilon creates a SIG to license M2M technology in the home – Electronics Eetimes

July 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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UK startup Xsilon is looking to open up its machine-to-machine (M2M) technology to the industry for connecting the Internet of Things in the home.

The Bath-based company has set up a Special Interest Group (SIG) to license its Hanadu communication protocol on an accessible FRAND basis, says CEO Russell Haggar. The SIG will work to complete the Hanadu specification, support it on its path to standardization, develop propositions for particular applications and markets, and support a widespread adoption of Hanadu technology. Haggar says he expects 5 to 10 members within the first year

The SIG will take over the development of the Hanadu specification from Xsilon, allowing offerings from multiple vendors to create a broad platform within the home in the same way as the Bluetooth, Zigbee and OpenET SIGs.

“Having worked hard to create the Hanadu concept and to develop its technology base, we are now moving on to the next level as we open out the platform to our partners,” said Haggar. “We’ve had nothing but positive responses to Hanadu from all our partners and customers throughout its gestation, and now they are working with us to build real momentum in the market for Hanadu products.”

via Startup creates a SIG to license M2M technology in the home – Electronics Eetimes.

West of England LEP launches High Tech newsletter

January 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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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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Bath researchers investigate energy network complexity

July 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Researchers from Bath are looking at new ways to make the energy network more efficient and robust.

The team from the University’s Department of Computer Science, in collaboration with Low Carbon South West and Grid Scientific, has funding from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to investigate how a ‘coherence engine’ could enable operators to achieve significant business and operational benefits and will consider the specific scenario of responding to failures in the network more efficiently.

The introduction of Smart Power Distribution to energy networks, as part of the evolving Smart Grid initiative, will see a sharp increase in the number of systems that rely on sensors and other intelligent devices. A coherence engine may support Distribution Network Operators in extracting the maximum value from data provided by these devices.

The role of the coherence engine could be of importance as software enabled devices become more prevalent, data proliferates, fault symptoms become less obvious and network and operations complexity increases.

By developing an understanding of the anticipated operational and technical impacts of the introduction of these technologies, the researchers would be able to support Grid Scientific with its development of a coherence engine that could improve operations processes in distribution networks.

Low Carbon South West, a membership organisation which creates sector partnerships between businesses, academia, investors and local authorities to promote the growth of environmental technologies and services in the South West region, is leading the partnership and will also disseminate the partnership’s findings across it membership.

Board member Simon Bond said: “Current systems for monitoring faults in the energy network rely on their independent view of activity. As the network becomes more complex and new technologies are introduced, this lack of communication between monitoring systems could become problematic.

“Through this project the partners are aiming to determine the feasibility of a centralised view of the network which will address these complications and deal with a proliferation of network data.”

Grid Scientific, a company which designs software to support the evolution of today’s energy networks, has been investigating the potential of data coherence for energy networks over the last year. The company also draws on over 20 years of experience in telecoms networks where similar changes can be viewed as an analogue for the changes now expected in energy networks. If the feasibility study is encouraging, Grid Scientific plans to develop new data coherence products for the energy network market.

Eric Brown, Managing Director of Grid Scientific, said: “The challenges and opportunities we are now seeing in energy networks are similar to those seen in telecoms when major changes took place in that sector in the 1990s. However, substantial differences between the electricity and telecoms environments mean that a level of technical and operational innovation will be required,” he said. “We’ll be working with the research group to determine where the latest thinking in computer science can be applied to deliver solutions for energy networks.”

Dr Rachid Hourizi, researcher in human and system interaction from the University of Bath’s Department of Computer Science, said: “Understanding the feasibility of coherence to successfully meet the smart power distribution data challenges will depend on collaborative and cross discipline innovation from the electricity, IT and communications sectors. If feasibility can be shown, this project could lead to the construction of a prototype coherence engine for fault management and the extension of the approach to address improvement in other processes in the electricity network.”

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SouthWest startup Xsilon launches in Barcelona

March 3, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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A startup from Bath has launched its technology to the world at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona aiming to connect up all the different bits of electronics in the home.

Xsilon’s HANADU “Whole Home, Every Home” technology is aimed at service operators and equipment makers and can handle any communications link whether it is wireless or wired, with low cost and low power.  It is initially aiming at smart meter connections in the home as s well as in difficult building deployments, in-home energy management solutions, appliance monitoring and maintenance applications, and telemedicine services.

A lot of wireless links struggle to reach devices that are located inside homes, as external wireless networks struggle to penetrate the shell of the building and internal wireless networks continue to face challenges with the obstacles, clutter and coverage deadspots within a typical home environment.

HANADU plus into the growth of machine-to-machine, or M2M, technology where machines in the home all talk to each other and so is low cost enough to work in your fridge or washing machine as well as with your phone or iPad. The key is that it reaches within the home to every point where M2M connectivity might be needed, and overcomes the deadspots and range problems typically associated with previous inhome  deployments. Unlike equivalent wireless offerings, costly but underused repeater points are not needed.

All sorts of different ‘ad hoc’ approaches are supported with auto-discovery routing algorithms where the system looks around for waht avaiable and then connects to it automatically, and the bandwidth scales to support many dozens of connected endpoints within a single home.
HANADU comes with a radically lower power consumption than legacy approaches and state-of-the-art network security keeps householders’ privacy fully secure.

Xsilon’s experienced technology team in the South West has created HANADU using more than two man-centuries of communications technology development and product experience. Other communications technologies deployed in the home were originally designed for other areas, and compromises in performance or connectivity have inevitably been encountered during deployment as an In-Home M2M offering. Rather than accepting such compromises, the Xsilon team designed HANADU using a cleansheet approach with three design goals in mind: superior performance within the home environment; direct relevance to the needs of in-home M2M applications; and, compatibility with all
legacy in-home technologies.

Xsilon has generated its own intellectual property in designing HANADU, and it will be opening the technology up to standardisation activities in the near future. The first products will allow vendors and service providers to evaluate the connectivity advantages of HANADU technology, followed by connectivity modules for integration into equipment.

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University of Bath develops weather satellite

March 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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A micro-satellite project from the University of Bath has won a position to be sent into space as part of the UK’s first CubeSat mission.

More here


SW Microelectronics iNet

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Medical electronics spotlight in Bath

March 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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i-Med: How medical electronics will deliver patient power

Thursday, 24 March 2011 and Friday, 25 March 2011, Bath Ventures Innovation Centre, Broad Quay, Bath, BA1 1UD

Experts in medical electronic systems are gathering in Bath next week for the SiliconSouthWest iMed seminar. This looks at the increasingly important area of medical electronics and applications, particularly with the use of wireless networks. Speakers from the NHS, silicon and embedded systems companies and applications developers will explore the opportunities for developing the next generation of medical systems and their place in the healthcare ecosystem.

Confirmed Speakers:

Plus healthcare expert panel led by Dr Nigel Harris, Director, Bath Institute of Medical Engineering

  • Stephen Hope, Docobo
  • Angus Donald, NHS Innovations South West
  • David Rogers, Ex President and Chief Executive, Lucent EMEA

Register Here





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picoChip powers next generation small cellular basestations

February 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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A chip and software from picoChip in Bath are being used for a new next generation small cell basestation developed by Airspan of the US.
The picoArray technology has been used to implement LTE and other wireless processing in Airspan’s new multi-standard ‘small cell’ basestation, the AirSynergy. This provides high-performance data capacity to densely populated urban hotspots for the next generation LTE phones and is easy to deploy in metropolitan areas on buildings, strand-mounted from utility poles or on lamp posts.
AirSynergy is designed for deployment at “non-telco” locations such as city centers and business districts. With a small size and embedded wireless backhaul/relay through Airspan’s iBridge system, AirSynergy is aimed at rapid and cost-effective deployment in sites where traditional base stations cannot deliver the capacity required.
“LTE carriers need to fill service gaps in their networks with small cell base stations, such as AirSynergy, to deliver the promised download speeds and capacity to their customers. Picochip is helping us to make this possible,” said Paul Senior, CTO, Airspan. “We needed a cost-effective solution with low power consumption and high RF performance; Picochip, as a leading technology supplier for small cells, was the obvious choice.”
Picochip recently also made the first announcement of end-to-end interoperability between an LTE femtocell and commercially available user equipment (UEs), in partnership with Wavesat and Continuous Computing.

“This year will see the femtocell market expand from its foundations in residential applications, to include metropolitan and rural deployment, in 3G and LTE,” said Nigel Toon, CEO of Picochip. “Airspan’s selection of Picochip for LTE is a strong validation of our leadership and a continuation of our long standing relationship. For LTE to deliver its potential, the network must be optimized around high performance small cells, with a dense deployment of cost-effective solutions like AirSynergy.”

SW Microelectronics iNet

Bath’s ‘green’ buildings in £8m TSB study

February 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Two of the University of Bath’s innovative buildings are to be tested for their green credentials.

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) is funding a total of 17 developments in the first phase of a four-year, £8m programme that aims to help the construction industry as a whole to better understand the performance of different building types, design strategies, construction methods and occupancy patterns, and the relative contribution of various factors to the eventual performance of the buildings.

Dr Andy Shea, from the University’s Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, will be undertaking an in-depth, two-year study of the buildings within his research group BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials. “This research will allow us to look in very fine detail at exactly how each of the buildings is performing,” he said. “Typically there is a significant difference between the calculated environmental standard of a building on paper and that achieved once a development is in use. This research will be enormously helpful in not only advising the University of any changes that could be made to the two buildings, but also in providing the industry as a whole with information that can be applied to future developments.”

The research will involve a team of people examining in detail the exact way both buildings are used, the functions performed in them and the equipment used.

“The findings of our research into energy consumption and building usage of Woodland Court will be quite unique and have the potential for impacting on student accommodation design across the country,” said Dr Shea.

Research at the University of Bath will begin in April and continue for two years

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SouthWest electronics firms shine in Barcelona

February 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Deltenna in Chippenham is highlighted in the Computer Weekly roundup of UK firms making a splash at the global gathering of mobile phone companies in Barcelona, Mobile World Congress, later this month. The story at  looks at what Deltenna is doing with a specialist antenna system for the home to boost reception and provide broadband WiFi access in rural areas.

But there are several others from the region: chip makers picoChip in Bath, Icera in Bristol and Nujira, which has a design centre in Bath, are also at the show showing the latest mobile phone technology, while equipment makers Ubiquisys of Swindon and AceAxis, with a radio design centre in Bristol, are also present at the show and chip and system maker IPWireless is also driving mobile phone technology forward from Chippenham  with deals with Ericsson and Apple.

SW Microelectronics iNet

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