Young engineers’ new technologies garner Royal support

Posted on 15 Oct 2015 by Jonny Williamson

Ten promising doctoral projects with potential to make a significant impact on health, environment and industry will now be taken towards commercialisation, thanks to funding and support by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.

The new technologies include a replacement for the eye’s lens which could stop vision deteriorating with age; new materials for much cheaper solar cells; research that could create much longer lasting batteries, and a silicon based data transfer technique which could underpin the development of affordable quantum computers.

New modelling tools for developing complex chemistries for lubricants that will enable more fuel efficient car engines.
New modelling tools for developing complex chemistries for lubricants that will enable more fuel efficient car engines.

They also include medical and chemical research, including understanding how to treat a currently incurable spinal condition and a rapid way to create new chemicals for industrial processes such as waste management.

The Industrial Fellowships provide recent graduates with the means to develop innovative technology with commercial potential, ideally leading to a patent, while completing a PhD or EngD.

Each Fellow receives up to £80,000 worth of funding over three years for their work, to be carried out in collaboration with an academic institution and a business partner.

Chairman of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, Bernard Taylor commented: “Britain is renowned for carrying out world leading research, but often we have fallen behind in turning that expertise into commercial applications.

“These fellowships have been designed to identify research with potential to solve current problems in a commercially viable way. In doing so, we continue the spirit of the Great Exhibition of 1851 which showcased the inventive genius that led the world in innovation”.

Using the profits from the first and most successful international trade fair, the 1851 Royal Commission now awards a range of fellowships and grants to support science and engineering research and industrial education across the UK.

It has previously funded luminaries such as Nobel laureates Professor Peter Higgs, Sir James Chadwick and Paul Dirac.

The 2015 Fellows are:

  • An end to reading glasses – developing lens implant that stops the ageing process of eyes – giving clear vision in old age. Devesh Mistry, UltraVision CLPL and the Universities of Manchester and Leeds.
  • New materials could create efficient printable solar panels at a fraction of the cost of existing panels. Harry Cronin, DZP Technologies and the University of Surrey.
  • Investigating the chemical process that causes Ankylosing Spondylitis – a chronic incurable spinal inflammation condition – which could be used to develop the first drugs to treat the condition. Pavel Guzanov, Novartis AG and the University of Oxford.
  • New imaging technology for identifying hazardous hydrocarbon molecules and compounds, with applications including detecting dangerous gasses, spotting explosives and chemical weapons, and investigating art fraud. Adam Polak, Fraunhofer UK and the University of Strathclyde.
  • New insights into deforestation, erosion and flooding – a project which mounts sensors on helicopters and UAVs and applied a new data analysis technique could help us better understand the environment. Fiona Muirhead, Selex ES and the University of Edinburgh.
  • New modelling tools for developing complex chemistries for lubricants that will enable more fuel efficient car engines. Rachel Fort, BP Technology Centre and King’s College London.
  • A new process for capturing enzymes directly from nature, testing them and scaling them up for use in industrial processes, such as flavour enhancement, waste processing, and paper production. Philip Conti-Ramsden, Biocatalysts Ltd and University College London.
  • Exploring the fundamental scientific processes within electrodes, with a view to developing a new class of sodium ion batteries which could be more powerful and longer lasting than existing batteries. Daniela Ledwoch, Sharp Laboratories of Europe Ltd and University College London.
  • A new silicon based method for transporting electrons in quantum computing, which will be key to developing affordable and scalable quantum computers. Pratyay Poddar, Hitachi Cambridge Laboratory and the University of Cambridge.
  • A technique for validating new testing methods for large scale manufacturing, e.g. planes and cars. Alexander Ballisat, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) Porton Down and University of Bristol.