Enterprising Birmingham Innovation Competition



Enterprising Birmingham Winners Announced - Judges blown away by weather monitoring technology

 Lee Chapman and Karl Dearn

The search for our most entrepreneurial researchers is over as the Enterprising Birmingham Final Showcase took place on 22nd April at Birmingham Business School.  The Showcase was the culmination of a competition  open to all staff researchers and academics at the University.  The competition saw the three finalists for the Most Innovative Idea category pitch their commercial opportunities to a panel of judges from the worlds of finance, investment and entrepreneurship.  

£15,000 was awarded to entrepreneurial academic, Dr Lee Chapman, from the School of Geography at the University of Birmingham.

Dr Chapman has developed an exciting suite of tools to monitor road temperature (to plan for ice and snow), rail temperature (to plan for heat related delays due to buckling of track) and rail moisture levels (to plan for issues of 'leaves in the line').

This innovative technology will minimise the disruption to commuters and the cost to companies caused by the impacts of weather and climate on our infrastructure. The technology has already generated a lot of interest from potential industry partners.

Dr Chapman said of the win, "I am equally shocked and delighted at winning this prestigious competition, especially in light of the quality of the other entries I was up against.  However, I am most grateful for the opportunity to gain more exposure to my business idea, Altasense, especially to such a well-connected audience of venture capitalists, business angels and other commercialisation experts.  The competition has been an enormous confidence booster and I now feel fully prepared to take my ideas to the next level".

An award for the 'Most Successful Business Collaboration' was also made at the Showcase to Dr Karl Dearn from the University's School of Mechanical Engineering. Dr Dearn has been working with Truflo Marine Ltd to design a novel range of valves, using the latest technology.  This will help Truflo  to reach more diverse markets in the oil and gas sector and thereby strengthen their offer to business.

Dr Dearn commented, "I am very pleased that our collaboration with IMI Truflo Marine Ltd has been recognised with the most successful business collaboration award.  Our engagement through the KTP programme is driving innovation that will result in significant benefits to the organisation, but is also providing invaluable experiences for the School and our undergraduates.  The prize will provide an exciting platform for us to develop further research and development opportunities as we widen our engagement activities.

The competition highlights the game changing technologies that are developed at the University of Birmingham and exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit of its researchers.

The keynote speech was given by Kish Mistry and Dr Mike Davies of Pulmorphix; a spinout from Liverpool John Moore's University which has developed the world's first 'lung biosimulator', a device that replicates the conditions deep in the human lung. The company has been set up to offer a commercial testing service to give drug developers a reliable way of understanding how their drugs will behave when inhaled.

Mike and Kish gave a fascinating overview of their journey in taking a research based idea to market using crowd-funding to raise investment.

The afternoon was a celebration of the most innovative projects that our researchers are currently involved in. The Showcase event attracted over 120 attendees from the University, local organisations and businesses keen to learn how research can benefit the economy and society, especially when universities work closely with business partners.

Competiton Re-Opens October 2016

For further information, please see http://www.bizzinn.org/competitions.php

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