From software designed using principles of philosophy, to plants which can fix nitrogen from the air, The University of Nottingham’s inaugural Knowledge Exchange and Innovation Awards showcased the impact of University research on business and society.
Incorporating projects from all of the University’s faculties and its campuses in the UK, China and Malaysia, the Awards highlighted numerous examples of the vast breadth and diversity of the work of academics.
The first award of the night was for a project undertaken by Dr Jonathan Tallant in the Faculty of Arts, who is using principles of philosophy to help companies develop new software. Dr Tallant’s research into the philosophy of time has helped Canadian company Time.ly, which produces event planning and calendar software, to develop new software which is valued at over £4.5m.
Accepting the award for spin-out company of the year was Professor Edward Cocking, who has developed a technology which enables plants to fix nitrogen from the air. Using a naturally occurring bacterium which is found in some sugar-canes, Professor Cocking discovered how to inoculate the seeds of other plants, including food crops, enabling these to also have the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, significantly reducing the need to apply fertilizers. This technology is now being commercialised through the University spin-out business, Azotic Technologies, based at BioCity.
Other winners included a project by Dr Richard Bingley in the Faculty of Engineering whose work in measuring changes in land and sea levels is helping to protect more than a million people and billions of pounds worth of property in the south east of England from the risk of flood. From Medicine and Health Sciences, Professor Martin Green was a winner for the design and implementation of a national mastitis plan for British Dairy Herds.
In Social Sciences, the success of a Global Mentorship Programme run by Dr Ulf Richter at the Ningbo campus, which is bringing together 100 students with business people was recognised, and in Science, while Professor David Clarke’s work in the Accident Research Unit which is influencing government road safety policy internationally, won one of the awards for Social Impact.
There were also a number of student winners, including Laughing Matters, a Nottingham based student venture which provides free comedy based courses for individuals with addiction problems and mental health issues.
From the University’s Malaysia campus, the student Lim Jaan Cherng, who has created a virtual reality prosthetic arm to help amputees practise their control skills, was also a winner, as were the students involved in the DuGreen project in China, which is helping to raise awareness of the benefits of recycling in Ningbo.
Former University of Nottingham students James Bryant, Jonathan English and Mark Delamere won the alumni-enterprise in recognition of the consistent success of their business, Skeleton Productions, which is based at the University’s Innovation Park.
The final award of the night for academic achievement, went to Professor Colin Snape. Professor Snape has been instrumental in establishing The University of Nottingham as an internationally recognised centre of research into cleaner fossil energy.
His research on carbon dioxide capture has resulted in many contracts being established with governments and research bodies. Professor Snape has also developed a HYPY (hydrogen pyrolysis) system, which is being increasingly used in oil and gas exploration around the world.
Speaking about the awards, Professor David Greenaway said: “The University has long been a pioneer in the exchange of knowledge, going back to the roots of the institution and the early work with Boots on drug discovery at the start of the last century, to the ground-breaking achievements on Magnetic Resonance Imaging towards the end of the century.
“Knowledge exchange is now firmly established as a key feature of the research process. With the increasing emphasis on delivering impact it has never been more important to the University’s future, and these awards recognise some of the outstanding work achieved by staff and students across all of our campuses in the areas of business engagement, innovation and enterprise.”