Queen’s Awards celebrate best of British innovation

Her Majesty The Queen celebrated not only 80th birthday on 21 April, but also the best in UK business, with the announcement of the winners of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2006.

 

The awards, which have been running since the Queen’s Awards to Industry started in 1966, this year recognised 90 companies for their achievements in International Trade, 48 in Innovation and seven in Sustainable Development.

 

Speaking at a celebration for award winners, HRH Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, said, ”This year’s awards celebrate a quite astonishing variety of products and companies, but always reflecting the people and the success of their efforts. Today will be an opportunity to look further and see how the Queen’s Awards will help you, as well as being a celebration. A total of 145 business awards are being made this year, and that’s the highest since 1995. The standards are demanding, so the standards shown by the companies represented here have been outstanding.”

 

FT Technologies, which designs and manufactures innovative ultrasonic wind and airflow sensors, were unique in winning both an Innovation Award and an International Trade Award. Its patented Acoustic Resonance airflow sensing is an ultra-sensitive method of measuring airflow speed and direction. Managing Director Peter Elgar said, “It is very compact, yet has an extremely wide operating range which is so sensitive it can measure everything from a falling feather to hurricane speeds. Its market is environmental and renewable – rather appropriately a wind turbine can power it.”

 

Among the other Innovation award winners was mmic eod, which makes bespoke counter-terrorist equipment. It won the award for a small, portable machine which is attached to a suspect chemical or biological weapon, takes a sample and, if necessary, neutralises the contents without a controlled explosion, which could spread the dangerous contents. Managing Director Dr Steven Sales said, “There’s a lot of myself in this product. I am a great humanitarian, but this gives me a chance to work with the military on something that’s all for the good.”

 

Doyle & Tratt Products won an Innovation award for their innovative dimmer system for fluorescent lights. Dr A J Doyle, Managing Director, said, “I’ve been working on a truly dimmable compact fluorescent light, and we now have 10 models in pre-production. Our dimmer works with a digital micro-controller actually sited in the ballast housing, so there is no need for additional parts. Analogue systems can only go down to 20 per cent light level, but we can get down to one or two per cent and even start dim, saving even more energy. Our next project will be to incorporate a light sensor so it adjusts light levels automatically.”

 

Precision Polymer Engineering was given their Innovation award for developing a new high-performance elastomer material, Perlast G67P. Business Manager David Holt said, “Traditionally, rubber materials have fillers added which gives them different mechanical properties. However, in the pharmaceutical and semiconductor industries, they may be exposed to high temperatures and aggressive chemicals, which can release particle impurities. The new material employs fluoro polymer filler using 15-40 nanometre particles. They are invisible to light, so can be used in translucent materials. When attacked by heat or chemicals, they turn to vapour and don’t cause contamination.”

 

Innovation award-winning Smiths Aerospace produces a family of products which support Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) for the aerospace industry. Simon Linacre from the company said, “We invested in the process behind the product, which allows us to readily change its functionality. For example, on the Boeing 787, we can change different aspects such as the update rate or introduce new input devices inside eight hours.”

 

Gareth Jones, CEO of Gooch & Housego, was presented with an International Trade award for exporting its acousto-optic devices. He said, “Our acousto-optic Q-switch can turn continuous laser into a pulsed laser, increasing its power 1,000 times. Our products are used in laser marking, cutting and drilling materials. There is also a big market for medical and ophthalmic use. As our devices are all bespoke, our employees are all craftsmen. Basically, we use the same techniques and skills as when Galileo was making telescopes.”