Mobile apps, robots and flying cars share the spotlight in the NEF’s Innovation Awards 2014
Outstanding projects across the business, science, education and local government took centre stage at the NEF’s Innovation Awards on Thursday.
The awards marked the finale of the NEF’s flagship annual conference, Innovisions 2014, which explored the issues and inspiration behind some of the most innovative working practices in the world today.
Presenting the awards was Baroness Verma, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, who praised the winners for their entrepreneurialism which ranged from carbon capture technology to alternative fuel sources.
Taking the first prize for Most Innovative Business was app developer Mubaloo for MiBeacons, a platform that helps organisations send timely and relevant messages to consumers on their mobile phones, pinpointing their exact location through pioneering use of blue tooth low energy beacon technology.
Sharing joint first place for Innovator of the Year were Professor Dimitris Drikakis of Cranfield University and Sam Wilson, a project manager with gas distributor SGN.
Professor Drikakis took the prize for Nanogreen, new generation carbon capture technology that uses carbon nanotubes for filtering out carbon dioxide and other gases at low or zero energy cost. This self contained, efficient and easy to manufacture component has the potential to be used across a wide range of applications in the power generation, automotive, aerospace, marine and built environment sectors.
Sam Wilson, project manager with SGN’s Innovation Team, has been a leading force in the company’s development of robotics technology to remotely repair live gas mains.
Gilo Industries, the Dorset-based group that is pushing the boundaries of aviation technology, picked up the NEF Award for Outstanding Innovation, which recognised, among the group’s many achievements, the flying car Skyrunner as well as the development of Parajet, an ultralight personal aviation system.
Innovative student of the year category was won by Conan Mulraine, formerly of South Eastern Regional College in County Down, Northern Ireland, for his entrepreneurial initiative to create bioethanol fuel from fruit waste. Conan, now studying at the University of Ulster, has applied for two provisional patents and is exploring the commercial applications of this product.
The prize for Best Example Of Innovation In a STEM Programme went to South West College in Omagh, Northern Ireland, for its innovative and dynamic foundation degree in civil engineering which embeds industry best practice into classroom teaching, blended with on-the-job experience. The employability-focussed degree is a good example of effective collaboration between industry, education and government.
Crossrail, Europe’s largest live infrastructure project, was named Best Example Of Innovation In Public or Voluntary Sector. The Crossrail team has introduced an enlightened innovation programme that enables exchange of ideas across traditional organisational boundaries. Crossrail is also sharing its best practice with the wider construction industry. The innovation programme is believed to be the first of its kind within a temporary project-based organisation.
Baroness Verma said:
“Innovation is essential for tackling the major challenges of the 21 century, including population growth, climate change and dwindling fuel reserves. I am delighted to see that many of this year’s Innovation Awards entries, which range from conservation to carbon capture technology, address these issues head on. They make a valuable contribution to the building of a more sustainable and inclusive society. Hearty congratulations to all the winners.”
NEF Chief Executive Professor Sa’ad Medhat said:
“Every year the Innovation Awards celebrate new thinking in both private and public sector organisations. This year’s outstanding entries demonstrate that the spirit of entrepreneurialism is becoming more embedded across industry, education and government.
“We have seen good examples of knowledge sharing and cross collaboration this year, as well as a commitment to developing a more creative and higher-skilled workforce.
“The Innovation Awards perfectly reflect the aims of NEF’s aims: to embed innovative thinking in organisations of all types and sizes. This is vital, not only for the survival of industries and sectors, but also for ensuring the UK’s long term economic prosperity.”
The Innovation Award in full:
Most Innovative Business
1st place – Mubaloo – MiBeacons
2nd place – Halifax – Cashback Extras programme
2nd Place – SSE Airtricity –Slieve Kirk Wind Park Educational Scholarship Fund
Outstanding Innovation Award
1st place – Gilo Industries – Skyrunner flying car
Innovator Of The Year
1st Place – Professor Dimitris Drikakis, Cranfield University, Nanogreen gas filter technology
1st Place – Sam Wilson, SGN, pioneering robots for remote repair of gas mains
2nd place – Claire Baker, Costain, for leadership role in reducing Costain’s carbon footprint
Innovative Student Of The Year
1st Place – Conan Mulraine, South Eastern Regional College, creating bioethanol fuel from fruit waste
2nd Place – Jamie Harper Ptolomey, Barnfield College, innovation in building conservation
Best Example Of Innovation In A STEM Programme
1st Place – South West College, Civil Engineering Foundation Degree
2nd Place – Key IQ / Malvern Hills District Council, innovative outreach programme, teaching IT software and hardware development skills in schools
2nd Place – South Eastern Regional College: Gwyneth Wilkinson, for inspiring student engagement on environmental and conservation issues.
Best Example Of Innovation In Public or Voluntary Sector
1st Place Crossrail, boundary-crossing innovation programme
2nd Place – Borough of Poole Council, Green Positive Environmental Action (Green PEA)scheme