Young inventors receive £80,000 research fellowships

Eight young scientists and engineers have each received £80,000 to support their work on new commercial technologies, from artificial bone grafts to high-efficiency solar cells that transform the sun into a laser.

The industrial fellowships from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 – the same body that supported the early work of recent Nobel laureate Peter Higgs – are designed to allow the researchers to develop their inventions with a partner business while completing a doctoral degree.

Speaking at the award ceremony in London yesterday, Prof Michael Brady, who chaired the selection committee, said the Commission had this year received its biggest ever number of applications for the industrial fellowships.

‘One of the things we did was to embrace social media as a way to get to young students rather than relying on leaflets,’ he said.

‘The eight really do illustrate the rapid evolution of industry and engineering because no single one of these fellowships is in an area that existed 20 years ago. I think this shows the continual turmoil and reinvention of engineering in the industry.’

The 2013 fellows are: 

  • Campbell Brown – working with Sharp Laboratories and Southampton University to develop a “lab-on-a-chip” medical analysis device, for applications including detecting antibiotic resistant infections;
  • Jordan Conway – working with SIRAKOSS and Aberdeen University to produce an artificial bone graft material that mimics natural growth, reducing the need for metal implants;
  • Jethro Coulson – working with Renishaw and Nottingham University on a technique for measuring metal aerospace components at a microscopic level to maximise their efficiency;
  • Stephen Greenland – working with Clyde Space and Strathclyde University to progress work on the first ever UK Space Agency-commissioned nano-satellite, UKube-1;
  • Brianna Stubbs – working with TdeltaS and Oxford University to produce a ketone-based sports drink that she claims could improve athletic performance by up to two per cent;
  • Patrick Cottam – working with Lindstrand Technologies and University College London (UCL) to develop a fabric solar chimney up to 1000m tall for generating electricity using hot air;
  • Julian Hodgson – working with Passion Pictures and University College London (UCL) to develop artist-friendly tools for fluid simulation in visual computer animation;
  • James Dimmock – working with Sharp Laboratories and Imperial College London to develop high-efficiency solar cells that transform the sun into a laser.

The 1851 Commission was set up following the Victorian Great Exhibition and founded the cluster of research institutions in west London including the Science Museum and what became Imperial College London.

Since the 1890s, the Commission has awarded research fellowships to support the work of individual scientists, engineers and designers, starting with nuclear physicist Ernest Rutherford and including Prof Peter Higgs, who won this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics. 

Science and universities minister David Willetts, who presented the awards, said he agreed with London mayor Boris Johnson that the legacy of the 2012 Olympics should be similar to the legacy of 1851 Great Exhibition through the creation of new research facilities around the site of the Olympic Park.

The Commission is now accepting applications for the 2014 industrial fellowships.