The shortlisted finalists for The Engineer’s 2018 Collaborate To Innovate awards highlight the strength and depth of UK engineering innovation
Now in its third year, Collaborate To Innovate (C2I) was launched to uncover inspiring examples of UK engineering collaboration and highlight the way in which engineers from different sectors and disciplines are working together to address some of society’s most fundamental challenges.
It’s fair to say that over the past three years it hasn’t disappointed, and has helped showcase a host of truly groundbreaking projects: from medical innovations that will enable us to live longer, healthier lives; to transportation technologies that are helping to change the way we get from A to B
And as the shortlisted projects for this year’s competition illustrate, UK engineering innovation is alive and well in 2018.
The ultimate winners of C2I 2018 will be announced at an awards party in London on 6 November and reported on in detail by The Engineer. For now, here’s a brief taster of all of those hoping to walk away with one of our coveted C2I trophies. For a full list of all of the collaborating partners visit our C2I website
At Frazer-Nash, we know that effective collaboration and the development of innovative solutions is vital in today’s increasingly competitive markets. We recognise those talents in our own people, so we’re delighted to support a competition that recognises the achievements of effective partnerships and the value that innovation delivers to the UK economy.
Bill Hodson, Board Director, Frazer-Nash Consultancy
Established to celebrate academic groups able to demonstrate sustained excellence in collaboration, the Academic Innovator award attracted a typically strong crop of entries spanning a range of specialist areas. On the shortlist were: The Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, a long-term collaboration between Coventry University and Unipart; the South West Nuclear Hub, a University of Bristol-led effort to improve application of research and innovation to the nuclear sector; the SHEAR group, a University of Glasgow-led group exploring a range of innovations for challenging environments; and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory for its work helping over 300 SMEs with robotics and automation expertise.
Automotive is a new category for 2018, and the shortlisted finalists provide a great snapshot of a sector that’s going through a period of profound technological change. Unsurprisingly, innovations related to low-carbon vehicles loom large: from the pioneering development of a road sweeper powered by hydrogen as well as diesel (ULEMCo and Aberdeen City Council), to an effort to grow the UK’s electric powertrain manufacturing capability (the WMG-led High Volume E-Machine Supply (HVEMS-UK) project, and the recently completed Innovate UK funded CLASS project, which is demonstrating the manufacturability of lightweight composite chassis components. There’s a nod to closer-to-market innovations courtesy of the AI-based Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) Infotainment System as well as the rapidly emerging field of driverless cars, which is represented here by the Arup-led UK Autodrive project.
Energy and environment
Finding ever more efficient ways to generate and use power is one of the biggest drivers of innovation. And the diverse group of finalists in the running for this award provides a compelling overview of some of the ways that engineers are rising to this challenge: from the Babcock-led work on power management systems for ships, to the OTHELLO project’s claimed breakthrough in the solar energy arena.
Other shortlisted finalists are: Bristol STW, the UK’s only co-located food-waste recycling facility and waste water treatment plant; the curiously named Elephants to Ants project, which is exploring the use of robots for nuclear decommissioning; the Balanced Energy Network (BEN) initiative, which is demonstrating an entirely new technology for sharing heating and cooling across a whole city; and a project in which Vestas, Airbus and a host of academic partners are working on reducing the aerodynamic noise generated by wind turbines.
Healthcare and Medical
Few fields are more dependent on cross-disciplinary collaboration than the healthcare technology sector. And from the blood filtering system developed through Sanguis (an initiative that promises to enable the availability of universal plasma) to the care robots developed through the Bristol Robotics Lab led Chiron project, the shortlisted finalists for C2I’s Healthcare and Medical category provide a compelling illustration of how UK engineers are pioneering advances in this key area.
Other shortlisted entries include Eden 2020 (a pan-European effort to advance neurological diagnosis and treatment); a University of Sheffield-led project developing anti-microbial injectable bone grafts; an international effort to develop so-called bioelectronic drugs; and the University of Leeds-led SLIPS project, which is developing foot-sensing technology to treat diabetic foot disease.
The Young Innovator award was established to spotlight excellence in STEM engagement and this year’s finalists illustrate three differing approaches to inspiring the next generation: from the online format of ‘I’m an Engineer, Get me Out of Here’ (also a finalist in 2017) to the locally focused disaster-movie scenario of ‘SmashFest’ (which through its living in space programme has encouraged participants to engage with engineering by considering how they would live in space in the event of an earth-destroying disaster. Our third finalist, Transport Scotland’s Academy 9 project, is a great example of how real-world engineering projects (in this case the A9 dualing programme) can be used as the basis of a host of engineering education activities.
Manufacturing Technology – sponsored by Mazak
In the age of Industry 4.0, the finalists in this year’s manufacturing technology category provide some tangible examples of what this often-overused industry buzzword means in practice from the Laing O’Rourke-led Optimised project – which has built three industry 4.0 demonstrators, to the High Value Manufacturing Catapult’s SitSki project, which has demonstrated the use of a host of factory-of-the-future technologies to build an advanced para-skiing system. The other shortlisted entries cover slightly more traditional ground with the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing research Centre’s (NAMRC) NNUMAN project exploring the techniques that could help re-invigorate the nuclear manufacturing sectors, while Gordon Murray Design’s Carbon Aluminium Automotive Hybrid Structures project presents a new manufacturing technique for lightweight vehicles.
Defence, Security and Aerospace
Two separate aerospace projects, both led by Rolls-Royce, feature in this year’s defence, security and aerospace category. One, in partnership with Strathclyde University, is developing a process for mapping residual stress patterns in compressor aerofoil components, while the other details the group’s work with the University of Nottingham on new robotic technology for performing ‘keyhole surgery’ on jet engines. The other shortlisted entries are Kromek group’s work for DARPA on the development of hand-held radiation detectors; and Delta f – a Worcester Scientific-led initiative exploring the use of bioMems (biologically inspired microelectromechanical systems) to develop next-generation biological and chemical sensors.
Information, Data & Connectivity – sponsored by Babcock International
The growing importance of connectivity and data are two of the defining trends of our current technological age, and shortlisted entries to this category provided a snapshot of how these trends are impacting a range of different sectors.
The energy sector is a case in point, with the Brunel-led WindTwin project – which has shown how digital twin technology could revolutionise wind turbine maintenance, and Limpet – an IOT approach to monitoring oil and gas pipelines, both showing how smart use of data can help improve efficiency and reduce downtime.
The automotive sector was also prominent here thanks to the Bosch-led MOVE_UK initiative, a multi-partner collaboration which is using an innovative approach to data management to validate driverless car technology. The other finalists in this category detail technologies that may underpin our data-rich future, from the Lancaster University-led Ultrawave project (which is exploring us of the mm wave spectrum to deliver high-speed Wi-Fi) to a UCL-led effort to develop novel transceiver technology aimed at enabling us to get more bandwidth out of existing infrastructure.
Babcock International is proud to support this year’s C2I awards. Engineering is embedded in our DNA and technology underpins everything we do, and so does the way we collaborate with our customers. With our engineering expertise spanning across our four Sectors we have the ability to identify and integrate technology into our through-life support. That’s why we are a partner trusted to deliver
Steve Penver, Head of Data & Analytics, Babcock International Group
What the judges said
The C2i 2018 judging panel was highly impressed with the standard of this year’s shortlist.
“The variety we had in the entries was quite inspirational – just seeing how many different domains the UK is pushing the boundaries in inspired me about the future of engineering”
Abbie Hutty, ExoMars Project, Airbus
“As a first time judge I was taken aback by the amount of innovation, the high standard of the entries and the broadness of the applications across a range of different aspects.”
Steve Penver, Babcock International Group, head of data and analytics
“An impressive range of entries, demonstrating the quality and depth of innovation that’s ongoing in the country. It makes me feel optimistic about the future.”
Chris Guyott, engineering director, Frazer-Nash consultancy
“I found the level of collaboration quite astonishing – the other thing that comes out is the cross-fertilisation of techniques and technologies from one sector to another
John Halton – Director Business & Industry, Engineering UK
“Really strong inputs, and strong signals in terms of AI coming to the front,”
Andy Wright – director strategic technology, BAE Systems
“Such a wide range of high-quality, Innovative and diverse entries really gives you confidence about the opportunities in engineering and what a fun place it is to work.”
Alan Newby, director aerospace technology and future programmes, Rolls-Royce Plc