GKN Opens Engineering Centre In Filton

July 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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GKN Aerospace has opened a new engineering and technology center at its site at Filton near Bristol. The centre is GKN’s fourth and will focus on future wing structure design and manufacture. The company expect to increase the engineers on the site from 5 to over 100.

via GKN Opens Engineering Center In Filton, UK | Aviation International News.

Bristol software firm develops first anti-virus protection for TVs

June 6, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Televisions are increasingly becoming ‘smart’ and connecting to the Internet, but protecting your TV against threats such as malware and viruses has been lacking. Ocean Blue software, a Bristol-based TV software developer that works with TV and set top box makers around the world has developed the first anti-virus protection for your TV using cloud technology.

It has partnered with IT security leader Sophos to develop a cloud-based antivirus solution that can be shipped either as part of the Ocean Blue middleware or as a stand-alone client for solutions with their own middleware.

According to Futuresource Consulting, by 2015 over 80 percent of new televisions and set-top boxes will be Internet-ready. As many of these products will be based on either Linux or Android, they will be capable of downloading and running remote applications. While this connectivity brings many new features, it also exposes these devices to potential viruses and other malware, making antivirus protection essential.

Block diagram

Anti-virus software for your TV

The new Ocean Blue software was a joint effort based on the combined forces of SophosLabs advanced antivirus expertise and the category-leading Ocean Blue Software Television and Set top Box middleware. The end result protects against the maximum number of threats, with the lowest demand on system resources.

“Almost all new connected TV products are at risk from malware” says Ken Helps, founder and CEO of Ocean Blue Software. “This partnership with Sophos will allow us to provide manufacturers with middleware already prepared to defend their products against attack.”

“Most consumers don’t realize that Smart TVs are just as vulnerable to threats as other devices,” said Michael Rogers, Vice president, global alliances and OEM at Sophos. “This partnership with Ocean Blue Software provides tremendous opportunity to allow consumers to take advantage of the features Smart TVs offer, while ensuring their home networks remain secure.”

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Experts warn of catastrophe risks of GPS system

March 3, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Safety critical experts are calling for an alternative network for timing alongside the GPS satellite network to avoid catastrophic system failures.

“Many organisations declare they have no dependence on GPS and hence no need for backup. They are wrong,” said Prof Martyn Thomas, visiting professor at Bristol University and one of the founders of consultancy Praxis, now Altran Praxis, in Bath, speaking to the industry at the Safety Critical Systems Club symposium in Bristol. “Ideally we need a global, diverse source of timing,” he said. “The safety community needs to watch out for accidental systems and I believe they are more common than we currently realise.”

GPS is used as a timing system for lots of systems, and if it were to fail, be jammed or hacked would have catastrophic consequences for transport and mobile networks. These would range from errors in navigation to complete system failure (see links below)  and could be triggered by a huge solar flare called a Carrington event which is increasingly probable. “We have never really had a massive coronal event in the era of satellites so we just don’t know what the effect would be,” he said. The risk of such a storm in the next decade is over 12% (see more links below).

One possible solution would be eLoran, a land-based, low frequency, high power alternative wireless timing signal that would be difficult to jam and cheap to run, he said. “It would cost just £1m to £2m a year to maintain the system across Europe, it’s a no-brainer but the question is who would pay for it,” he said.

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Bristol hospitals team with NPL to make breast cancer detection more reliable

March 3, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Initial tests show promising results for new ultrasonic screening technique

The main hospitals in Bristol are working with the National Physical Laboratory on a  initial trial of a new, potentially more reliable, technique for screening breast cancer using ultrasound. The team at NPL are now looking to develop the technique into a clinical device.

“Our initial results are very promising. Whilst it’s early days, we’re very excited about its potential and with the right funding, support and industry partners, we may well have something here which could have a huge and positive impact on cancer diagnosis and the lives of many thousands of women,” said Dr Bajram Zeqiri, who leads the project at NPL.

The project was funded by the research arm of the NHS, the National Institute of Health Research, under its Invention for Innovation funding stream and co-funded by the NPL Strategic Research Programme. University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust is a leading UK centre in breast screening using ultrasound and partnered with NPL on the initial tests. They are now working on a demonstrator and will look to work with a manufacturer to commercialise the technology.

Around 46,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK every year, mostly using breast screening based on X-ray mammography. Only about 30% of suspicious lesions turn out to be malignant. Each lesion must be confirmed by invasive biopsies, estimated to cost the NHS £35 million per year. Ionising radiation also has the potential to cause cancer, which limits the use of X-rays to single screenings of at risk groups, such as women over 50 through the National Breast Screening Programme.

There is a compelling need to develop improved, ideally non-ionising, methods of detecting breast lesions and solid masses. Improved diagnosis would reduce unnecessary biopsies and consequent patient trauma from being wrongly diagnosed.

Ultrasound ticks many of the boxes: it is safe, low cost, and already extensively used in trusted applications such as foetal scanning. However the quality of the images is not yet good enough for reliable diagnoses.

Part of the problem lies with the current detectors used. Different biological tissues have different sound speeds, and this affects the time taken for sound waves to arrive at the detector. This can distort the arriving waves, in extreme cases causing cancellation them to cancel each other out. This results in imaging errors, such as suggesting abnormal inclusions where there may be none.

The new method works by detecting the intensity of ultrasonic waves. Intensity is converted to heat that is then sensed by a thin membrane of pyroelectric film, which generates a voltage output dependant on the temperature rise. Imaging detectors based on this new principle should be much less susceptible to the effects caused by the uneven sound speed in tissues.

This technique, when used in a Computed Tomography (CT) configuration, should produce more accurate images of tissue properties and so provide better identification of breast tissue abnormalities. The aim of tomography is to produce a cross-section map of the tissue, which describes how the acoustic properties vary across the tissue. Using this map, it is possible to identify abnormal inclusions.

An initial feasibility project has proved the concept by testing single detectors using purpose-built artefacts. These artefacts were designed to include well-defined structures, enabling the new imaging method to be compared with more conventional techniques. The results confirmed that the new detectors generated more reliable maps of the internal structure of the artefacts than existing techniques.

NPL is now seeking funding to develop the work further. They hope to produce a demonstrator using a full array of 20 sensors, which should allow more rapid scanning and move the idea towards a system which might eventually be used clinically. It is hoped that this will provide both a suitable resolution and fast enough scanning to become a viable replacement for current clinical scanners.

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Cabinet Office Approves Bristol’s Open Source Plans

October 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Bristol City Council has been given the green light to push ahead with its open source strategy following a meeting with CESG, the cyber security arm of the UK intelligence services.

The move is a key step in stimulating innovation in software for government systems.

via Cabinet Office Approves Bristol’s Open Source Plans | eWEEK Europe UK.

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Bristol wins £2m centre for 3D printing

April 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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R&D collaboration for aircraft and cars


Aircraft maker EADS and GKN Aerospace are launching a £2m research centre to examine industrialising the next generation of manufacturing process known as Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM), which is essentially ‘printing’ objects in 3D.

The collaboration will be supported by a £1.96m investment provided through a Government Regional Growth Fund grant for the use of ALM in aerospace but also for making parts and accessories for cars.

The project will be based in a new shared facility at Filton in Bristol and is expected to create up to 30 new sustainable engineering jobs and develop a new supply chain of companies in the region.

“Promoting innovation is vital if we are to drive growth in our local communities,” said Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk. “We have received a large number of ambitious and highly competitive bids to the first round of the Regional Growth Fund, which will help a number of businesses across the country, and I am delighted to announce funding for this collaboration between EADS and GKN Aerospace. Aerospace is one of Britain’s international successes and one that we should be proud of. We are number one in Europe and number two in the world with a 17 per cent global market share. I look forward to seeing the collaboration build further on this success, creating more jobs here in Bristol and providing an invaluable boost to the local economy.”

The ALM process grows solid 3D shapes from powdered raw material. The shape is created as a digital model which is split into horizontal slices. A laser or electron beam then traces the shape slice by slice onto a bed of powdered material, heating the material, melting it and bonding it to the layer below.  It then quickly cools to form a solid. The process is repeated slice by slice by sweeping a fresh layer of powder over the top each time.

This technology has the potential to advance the design and manufacture of parts in ways that cannot be achieved today, delivering lighter, purpose made parts which use less material, generate less waste and produce lower emissions.  Early results indicate that manufacturing waste could be reduced by up to 90% – particularly significant in industries where high-cost materials are used, such as the aerospace sector.

“This collaboration takes a significant step towards bringing this unique technology into industrial reality. As a more efficient, sustainable process, ALM has the potential to revolutionise industrial manufacturing and secure the UK’s position at the forefront of high tech innovation,” said Ian Risk, Head of EADS Innovation Works UK.

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Report highlights aerospace issues for SouthWest

March 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Over the next 10 years, the large emerging markets of China and India will drive global civil aerospace growth says a new report from UK Trade and Investment (report here). This is increasingly important for the SouthWest with many of the key players – Airbus, Rolls Royce, GKN and AgustaWestland – on the Science Park and Airbus building  £70m Technology Park in Filton in North Bristol.

The opportunities in these markets for UK aerospace companies will principally focus around the formation of partnerships and technology collaboration and it is key that the UK positions itself as a long-term strategy partner with these markets, asys teh report.  The principal opportunities in the next 10-year period are likely to be on new Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, COMAC and Embraer programmes due to their sheer volume and the fact that there will be options for new supplier entries.

There are also significant opportunities for UK suppliers to win international business on new rotorcraft,business aircraft and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) programmes, which will also drive the need for innovation in microelectronics and electronic system integration

The globalisation of the supply chain and current market conditions require that UK aerospace companies and UK Government co-operate even more closely than before to maintain and expand their share of this important part of the advanced engineering sector.

Successive UK Governments have recognised the importance of aerospace as a strategic sector and have been supportive in helping it to develop and grow its international civil and defence aerospace business. Advanced manufacturing sectors such as aerospace and defence also continue to be seen as important to maintaining a balanced economy in the UK.

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Bristol wins £6 million project to develop a new generation of composites

March 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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A collaboration between Bristol University and Imperial College London has been awarded a £6m grant to develop a new generation of high performance, fibre reinforced polymer composites.

The team from Bristol’s Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science and The Composites Centre at Imperial College London have been awarded the six-year programme grant by EPSRC.  The aim of the project is to create a new generation of high performance, ductile fibre reinforced polymer composites capable of sustaining large deformations without breaking.

The team is led by Professor Michael Wisnom at the University of Bristol and Professor Alexander Bismarck at Imperial College London, and supported by partners including BAE SystemsdstlHalliburtonHexcelMouchelRolls-Royce andVestas.

Advanced composites, based on carbon, glass and aramid fibres, are a vital low weight material technology that also offer operational savings and extended service lifetimes.  These materials are being implemented in rapidly increasing volumes, with the UK supply of advanced composite systems currently around £1.6 billion per year and growing rapidly.

Professor Wisnom, Director of ACCIS, said: “Conventional polymer matrix composites offer high strength and stiffness, low weight, and low susceptibility to fatigue and corrosion, and we are witnessing a rapid expansion of their use in aerospace and other applications, such as wind turbine blades, sporting goods and civil engineering.

“Despite this progress, a fundamental limitation of current composites is their inherent brittleness.  Failure can be sudden and catastrophic, with little warning or residual load carrying capacity.”

Professor Bismarck added: “High performance ductile composites will enable robust panels, which dent without significant loss in performance, and super-light, complex structures which indicate an overload by significant deformation but continue to support load without catastrophic failure.

“Such materials will provide greater reliability and safety, together with reduced design and maintenance requirements, and longer service life”.

Ensuring materials are ductile will overcome reticence for their use in safety critical or damage vulnerable applications, thereby significantly increasing their attractiveness for mass-market applications.  Also, the widespread use of high performance ductile composites could achieve a very significant reduction of up to 15 per cent in the overall greenhouse gas contribution of transport.

To achieve such an ambitious outcome will require a concerted effort by the team to develop new constituents and exploit novel architectures, in order to obtain fracture toughness and ductility comparable to that of metals, and with considerably superior strength, stiffness and density.  This programme grant will scope, prioritise, develop, and combine these approaches, to achieve High Performance Ductile Composite Technology (HiPerDuCT).

The research programme team are the University of Bristol: Professor Michael Wisnom, Professor Ian Bond, Professor Kevin Potter and Professor Paul Weaver and Imperial College London: Professor Alexander Bismarck, Professor Milo Shaffer, Dr Paul Robinson and Dr Joachim Steinke.


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Bristol frees up its IP for innovators

March 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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In a dramatic move, Bristol University is to open up its research and give away the rights to patented technology for free. The University has world leading research in many areas, including microelectronics, materials science and biotech, and is looking to use its intellectual property to build collaboration with industry, says Dr Neil Bradshaw, Director of Enterprise and the man responsible for commercialising the university’s innovation

Interview here

Bristol’s first Health Innovation Showcase

March 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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A unique exhibition, the first of its kind to be held in Bristol, will showcase the outstanding health innovation achievements in the city and offer a glimpse into the future at what new developments might bring.

The Bristol Health Innovation Showcase is the first exhibition from BRIG-H (Bristol Research and Innovation Group for Health), a partnership of  universities and NHS Trusts committed to improving the health of people in Bristol and beyond through research, innovation and closer collaboration.

The Showcase will take place at UWE’s Exhibition and Conference Centre on Wednesday 30 March from 5.30 to 8.30 pm.

The event will provide an opportunity for professionals and members of the public to see first hand 30 exciting innovations on display which have been developed by members of the partnership.  Clinicians, researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs behind the latest developments and innovations will be on hand to answer questions and explain their inventions, new procedures and advances in health services.

The BRIG-H partners are: the University of Bristol, University of the West of EnglandAvon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS TrustNorth Bristol NHS TrustUniversity Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust, in association with Bristol City CouncilNHS North Somerset, and NHS South Gloucestershire.

Scientists, clinicians, and health executives from these organisations have worked together to create new innovations and processes that have benefited health in Bristol.

Deborah Evans, Chief Executive NHS Bristol and Chair of the Bristol Health Leadership Executive, said: “We know that Bristol is regarded as a beacon of innovation.  Innovation in health is changing the lives of patients and the city: inventions, research, new companies, treatments, devices and tools are transforming the care and quality of the lives of patients. This event is an ideal opportunity to be inspired by examples of Bristol innovations that have changed people’s lives and talk to the people who have made it happen.”

Professor Richard Luxton, Director Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology, UWE, said: “This event demonstrates how the partners working together can make huge gains.  We want to encourage other researchers and clinicians to get involved in innovation and applications for their research.  There are many projects which would not have happened without the expertise and innovation of both universities, and the support of the NHS Trusts.  We hope this event will show just how much we have achieved together, and the enormous potential there is in the city for further innovation and health improvement in the city in the future.”

The innovations on display range from medical innovations, through to novel improvements to service delivery and community health initiatives. Innovations on display include:

The TOBY trial: – A new treatment pioneered by Professor Marianne Thoresen (University of Bristol) with partners North Bristol Trust and funded by the Medical Research Council, Olympic Medical and SPARKS aims to prevent brain damage caused by lack of oxygen (Asphyxia) at birth by giving cooling treatment within the first six hours of life.  The novel treatment lowers the affected babies’ body temperature to 33.5°C and induces hypothermia for 72 hours before gradually rewarming the baby in intensive care.  After clinical trials the treatment was introduced in Bristol’s two neonatal intensive care units in 2006 and 60 per cent of babies now survive without significant injury compared to 30 per cent previously in Bristol.  In May 2010 the treatment was recommended by NICE for asphyxiated babies.  Professor Thoresen is now working with Professor John Dingley (Swansea University) and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust to improve the prognosis for these babies even further by adding inhaled Xenon gas to the cooling regime.

Adults with Asperger Syndrome: plugging the service gap – The Bristol Autism Spectrum Service (BASS) was established to fill the service vacuum for adults with Asperger Syndrome who are unable to access support from mainstream services.   It has received national recognition as an example of best practice and contributed to the government’s strategy for adults with autism. The service model is being replicated in other UK regions.  BASS facilitates assessment and diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome for adults, provides a programme of post-diagnostic support and provides training for mainstream providers. By plugging the service gap for adults with Asperger Syndrome the new service helps to improve mental wellbeing and life outcomes for individuals. Training has been delivered to 500 health and social care professionals, employment agencies and JobCentre Plus staff.  The project leaders from Bristol Autism Spectrum Service, AWP are: Dr Ian Ensum, Matt Trerise, Annie Alexander, Amy Baddeley, Dr Rona Aldridge, Dr Peter Carpenter, Simon Allen and Gemma Allen.

OdoReader – Diagnosing bacterial infections at the bedside – OdoReader  is a prototype device which accurately and rapidly identifies disease causing bacteria in diarrhoea such as the bacterium Clostridium difficile, which is highly infectious and causes a severe form of diarrhoea.  OdoReader captures and analyses the chemicals in the smell of the diarrhoea and is able to give an accurate diagnosis within 20 minutes.  This new prototype device is robust and reliable and can help prevent the spread of infection. There are plans to develop similar devices for other infections and this device is ideal for use in the developing world.  The project leaders are Professor Chris Probert, (University of Bristol) and Professor Norman Ratcliffe (UWE) collaborating with North Bristol NHS Trust and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust.  OdoReader is being developed with the support of the Wellcome Trust and will be ready for launch in 2013.

The BRIG-H consortium will also be hosting a Health Innovation Challenge during the afternoon before the exhibition, bringing together scientists, researchers, clinicians, patient representatives and others from Bristol, to generate new ideas and facilitate  collaborations and initiatives to improve health in the city.

Researchers look at using virtual antennas

March 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Virtual antennas – using several antennas of equipment nearby – can improve the performance of wireless devices in some cases, say researchers at the University of Bristol’s Centre for Communications Research (CCR)

Details here

CCR has also launched a £10m Doctoral Centre opening next week

SW Microelectronics iNet


Martin McCourt, CEO of Dyson, interviewed at UWE

March 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Martin McCourt, CEO of Dyson, on the challenges posed by the recession, Dyson’s model of investing in innovation and the need for great people coming through a great education system to drive business forward.

Martin McCourt, CEO of Dyson, interview at UWE

The film is part of the Distinguished Executive Address series of talks organised by the Bristol Business School at UWE Bristol.

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Bristol physicists move closer to efficient single-photon sources

March 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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A team from Bristol has taken a big step toward efficient single-photon sources that could be used for completely secure optical communications.

Fluorescent “defect centres” in diamond act like atomic-scale light sources at toom temperature but need to be etched to generate the best source, and this is a huge challenge.  them strong contenders for use as sources of single photons (the quantum light particle) in secure quantum cryptography schemes, says J. P. Hadden, a Ph.D. candidate in the Centre for Quantum Photonics at the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Bristol.

“Defect centres could also be used as building blocks for ‘solid-state quantum computers,’ which would use quantum effects to solve problems that are not efficiently solvable with current computer technology,” Hadden says.

“We managed to show an improvement in the brightness of these defect centres of up to ten times by etching hemispherical ‘solid immersion lenses’ into the diamond,” he said. “This is an important result, showing how nanofabrication techniques can complement and enhance quantum technologies, and opens the door to diamond-defect-center-based implementations of quantum cryptography and quantum computation.”

More recently, Hadden and colleagues developed a technique that allows them to reliably etch these structures over previously characterized defect centres to a precision of about 100 nanometers — another significant step toward a practical and repeatable combination of nanotechnology and quantum optics.

The team presented its findings in Applied Physics Letters, a journal published by the American Institute of Physics.

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Bristol to be part of high-value manufacturing Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC)

March 18, 2011 by · 1 Comment
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The National Composites Centre (NCC) at the University of Bristol has been named as a partner in the first of a UK-wide network of elite technology and innovation centres

Bristol’s NCC is one of seven highly capable and internationally recognised research centres around the country which will make up the new Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC) for high-value manufacturing which is distributed right across the UK.

The centre will be one of a network of about six in which the Government will invest a total of more than £200 million over the next four years with the aim of enabling British businesses to commercialise the results of world-class research in the UK and access major new high-tech markets.

“I am delighted for the NCC to be working with the five other centres – the Centre for Process Innovation in Wilton & Sedgefield, the Advanced Forming Research Centre at the University of Strathclyde, the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Rotherham and the Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick – in the formation of the high-value manufacturing TIC,” said Peter Chiver, Executive Director of the National Composites Centre (NCC),

“This is fantastic news for Bristol. Today’s announcement recognises the world-class expertise in advanced manufacturing in the South West and the fantastic potential of this industry to secure jobs and prosperity for decades to come.  On a more practical level, it will enable Bristol to solidify its position at the forefront of composites, an industry that is growing at eight per cent per year. This is a huge opportunity for the National Composites Centre.”

Guy Orpen, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Bristol, said: “There is no doubt that composites will form a vital part of the UK’s manufacturing renaissance. This key part of the UK economy will be driven by closer collaboration between industry and the very best of academia and we are proud that the University of Bristol and the NCC’s initiating partners are playing such a significant role in this important part of the UK’s economy going forward. This is very good news for Bristol, the region and the UK.”

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XMOS pulls in chip veterans for advisory board

March 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Company expands globally as it enters high growth phase

Bristol-based chip developer XMOS has appointed a new advisory board to provide it with valuable business and technical guidance from some of the semiconductor industry’s most experienced and successful members. A sales and business development office has been opened in Austin, Texas and XMOS is also establishing a new software product support and development center in Chennai, India.

More here

SW Microelectronics iNet

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Bristol wins funding for open-innovation universities and free intellectual property

March 15, 2011 by · 1 Comment
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Bristol and two other leading universities to have won funding from the Intellectual Property Office to pioneer easy access to its intellectual assets.

The Universities of Bristol, Glasgow and King’s College London have won £80,000 in funding from the Intellectual Property Office – the government body responsible for granting Intellectual Property (IP) rights in the United Kingdom – to pioneer easy access to their intellectual assets.

Earlier this year, Glasgow became the first UK university to offer Intellectual Property, including groundbreaking medical and scientific research, to business and entrepreneurs free of charge. The award will be used to fund a collaborative project to move the free IP concept on to create a consortium of open-innovation universities.

The project aims to collectively promote free IP opportunities to industry and increase awareness of the vital role universities have in stimulating innovation and economic competitiveness.

Dr Kevin Cullen, Director of Research and Enterprise at the University of Glasgow, who is leading the project, said: “We hope to run an open and accessible project which aims to embed and test a new approach to licensing whilst stimulating debate around the issues of university and company collaboration, and the role which universities have in encouraging innovation for the benefit of UK society and the economy.”

Dr Neil Bradshaw, Director of Enterprise at the University of Bristol, said: “This pioneering project will advance the use of IP created by our three Universities by innovative growth companies and offers a new way for Universities to contribute to the growth required in the UK economy.”

Dr Alison Campbell, Managing Director, King’s College London Business, said: “This project allows us to capitalise on our ethos of open innovation at King’s. Our ambition is that it enables more effective engagement with industry across the sector.”

Please contact Neil.Bradshaw@bristol.ac.uk for further information.


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Top eight innovative ideas line up for Bristol entrepreneurs competition

March 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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A birdsong recognition system and a ‘smart’ water-meter development to encourage water saving are just two of the innovative entries submitted for the University of Bristol’s New Enterprise Competition.

The annual event, which is open to students, staff and recent graduates of the University, attracted stiff competition. There is a prize fund of £35,000 along with free professional advice and managed office space at the Bristol SETsquared Centre, to help bring the winning ideas to the market place.

Eight teams have been shortlisted to go through to the final of this year’s competition. The teams are, SunHub – providing solar power systems to rural India, Rapunzel – a new hair-care product range, Gym2 – a new strategy to encourage gym-use, Tweeter – a birdsong recognition and identification system, Puddle – a ‘smart’ water-meter development to encourage water-saving, CheapAFM – the production of affordable Atomic Force Microscopes, and EventBand – a new identification and proof-of-age system for festivals. Your Child Starts Piano – a video tutorial system for teaching the piano was the ‘wild-card’ entry put through by Basecamp, the student business incubator.

The shortlisted entries include thirteen undergraduates, one postgraduate, one post-doctoral researcher, and two staff members – drawn largely from the Engineering Faculty but also including representatives from the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, and the Faculty of Science.

Dave Jarman, Enterprise, Skills and Education Manager in RED and Chair of the competition judging panel, said: “The event is designed to draw and inspire new high-growth business ideas from the University’s entrepreneurial talent. This year’s competition was extremely fierce and the judging panel had a tough time deciding the shortlisted entries.”

The judging panel comprised representatives from the competition’s sponsors, Bristol City Council, Deloitte, EADS, IPGroup, King Sturge, Motorola, Osborne Clarke, Santander, SETsquared Business Acceleration Centre, and the Wyvern Seed Fund.

The finalists will now write up full business plans with the help of mentors from Basecamp, RED and the sponsoring organisations. The final presentations will take place on 11 May 2011 with the winners announced at the University’s Enterprise Dinner on 28 June 2011.

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iPad app helps optical tweezers

March 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Optics researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Glasgow have developed an iPad application for accurate, easy and intuitive use of optical tweezers.

Optical tweezers are used to manipulate tiny particles through the use of highly focused laser beams and are at the heart of much molecular biology. The team of researchers overcame the limitations of computer mouse and joy-stick controlled systems by designing of an iPad app to make it much easier to manipulate multiple particles in more directions.

The new multi-touch-based application allows researchers a clear representative 3D view of particle systems and offers a range of techniques, like pinching the screen or tilting the iPad, for moving single and multi-particles left and right, up and down, and to rotate them.

Due to the iPad’s wireless capability, the app will also help with regards laser safety and avoiding experiment contamination.

“Our iPad-based interface allows intuitive control of a holographic optical tweezers system using a dedicated application on the iPad and a modified version of our tweezers’ control software running on a host PC,” said the researchers in their paper published today. “The interface is responsive and easy to use, so even inexperienced users can trap particles, move them around and translate the microscope stage.”

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Bristol team builds optical components for quantum computing

March 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Quantum Circuits Based on MMI Devices

A research group led by scientists from the University of Bristol has demonstrated the quantum operation of new components that will enable compact circuits for future photonic quantum computers and is starting to build the components.

Building a quantum computer will require a large number of interconnected components – gates – which work in a similar way to the microprocessors in current personal computers. Currently, most quantum gates are large structures and the bulky nature of these devices prevents scalability to the large and complex circuits required for practical applications.

Recently, the researchers from the University of Bristol’s Centre for Quantum Photonics showed, in several important breakthroughs, that quantum information can be manipulated with integrated photonic circuits. Such circuits are compact (enabling scalability) and stable (with low noise) and could lead in the near future to mass production of chips for quantum computers.

Now the team, in collaboration with Dr Terry Rudolph at Imperial College, London, shows a new class of integrated divides that promise further reduction in the number of components that will be used for building future quantum circuits.

These devices, based on optical multimode interference (and therefore often called MMIs) have been widely employed in classical optics as they are compact and very robust to fabrication tolerances. “While building a complex quantum network requires a large number of basic components, MMIs can often enable the implementation with much fewer resources,” said Alberto Peruzzo, the PhD student working on the experiment.

Until now it was not clear how these devices would work in the quantum regime. Bristol researchers have demonstrated that MMIs can perform quantum interference at the high fidelity required.

Scientists will now be able to implement more compact photonics circuits for quantum computing. MMIs can generate large entangled states, at the heart of the exponential speedup promised by quantum computing.

“Applications will range from new circuits for quantum computation to ultra precise measurement and secure quantum communication,” said Professor Jeremy O’Brien, director of the Centre for Quantum Photonics.

The team now plans to build new sophisticated circuits for quantum computation and quantum metrology using MMI devices.

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Bristol Robotics Lab to host Robot World Cup

February 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Bristol is to host the world’s most advanced autonomous robots next year at the FIRA RoboWorld Cup 2012.

The competition will take place at the Bristol Robotics Lab (BRL), a collaboration between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, from 20-25 August 2012.

The FIRA RoboWorld Cup, founded in 1996, is a way of inspiring interest in robotics and through the competition, teams are encouraged to develop systems and build on their scientific and engineering skills. Technology developed for the tournament requires a holistic view, combining mechanical, electronic and software engineering, integrating advanced AI, automated control and image processing technology.

Alongside the games, a major scientific conference, the FIRA/TAROS Congress, will bring together the leading experts in robotics in the UK and worldwide. BRL won a competitive bid to host these events as the largest multi-disciplinary robotics facility in the UK with an international reputation in advanced robotics research.

The tournament includes several events:

  • MiroSot, a micro-robot soccer tournament, using teams of miniature robots;
  • SimuroSot, a simulated soccer tournament played on computers; and
  • HuroSot, a five-a-side soccer game played by humanoid robots, which have two legs and mimic human movement. The robots are up to 150 cm high and weigh up to 30 kg. The pitch measures approx 430 cm by 350 cm.

“We are really excited to win this bid to host these two events,” said Dr Guido Herrmann, conference chair and Senior Lecturer in Dynamics and Control in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol. “The robot games are a way of encouraging younger researchers to get involved in something that will test their abilities and show what autonomous robots can do. Teams work together to design and build the robots, and by pooling their knowledge in this challenge they are able to push the boundaries of robotics.

“BRL have already formed a team to take part in HuroSot, made up of students and staff and they will be working on the design of their robots over the next 18 months,” he added. “We are looking forward to welcoming teams from around the world, and welcoming the world’s leading experts in robotics to Bristol in 2012.”

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