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Innovation Watch

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  • Health & medical
  • Design & manufacturing
  • Innovation Watch

The water sweets helping people with dementia stay hydrated

Inspired by his late grandma Pat, design engineer Lewis Hornby wanted to find a way to make staying hydrated easier for people with dementia. With his startup Jelly Drops, he’s invented a jelly sweet that is helping thousands of people avoid complications relating to dehydration.

Bare feet on grass that has small blue flowers growing in it.
  • Health & medical
  • Innovation Watch

Thermal scanner aims to reduce amputation risk for people with diabetes

Thousands of people with diabetes require amputations each year due to severe complications associated with the disease. Startup Raidmed specialises in medtech devices aimed at improving diabetes footcare and preventing lower limb amputations.

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The Ingenium engine assembly line inside the Wolverhampton factory.
  • Mechanical
  • Design & manufacturing
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 67

Designing and manufacturing world-class engines

Jaguar Land Rover has designed and built from scratch a world-class engine family with the creation of a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the UK.

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The 7 Tesla Siemens Magnet inside a room.
  • Health & medical
  • Technology & robotics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 67

Improving access to the gold standard of MRI scanning

Siemens Magnet Technology (SMT), an Oxfordshire-based subsidiary of Siemens Healthcare UK, has developed the first 7 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) magnet suitable for clinical applications.

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Different coloured rectangular pieces of FORMcard.
  • Materials
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 67

The bioplastic that is easily moulded for repairs

Launched on Kickstarter in November 2015, British designer Peter Marigold’s FORMcard innovation successfully raised the money needed to go into production on its first day. The malleable plastic has since been used to fix thousands of everyday items around the world.

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Two electrical engineers designing hardware for a security system using computer aided design software on their computers.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 98

The community IoT network preventing break-ins in Uganda

After thieves broke into his home and stole $1,500 worth of valuables, Ugandan engineer Anatoli Kirigwajjo wanted to prevent it happening to others. He’s developed an Internet of Things-based security system that alerts neighbours.

  • Design & manufacturing
  • Mechanical
  • Innovation Watch

The manual washing machine for low-income communities

UK-based social enterprise The Washing Machine Project has developed a manual washing machine designed to help people in displaced and off-grid communities do their laundry.

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A Black woman with brown, tied up hair is wearing a black protective sports headband and a black t-shirt. Her face is tilted upwards and she is looking to the left of the camera
  • Health & medical
  • Sports & leisure
  • Innovation Watch

The headband reducing the risk of brain injury

Halos is a sports headband for concussion and sub-concussion protection, which will benefit people playing in sports where head impacts occur, such as football, rugby, and hockey.

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A demonstration of a millimetre-sized camera on a probe in a model of the cervix and uterus.
  • Health & medical
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 97

Making vital diagnostics more accessible

Delayed access to hysteroscopies in South Africa is causing patients unnecessary distress and health risks. With a new medical device, Cape Town-based startup FlexiGyn is working to make the procedure mobile, affordable and pain-free.

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View of planet Earth from space, being orbited by a satellite harvesting solar power
  • Aerospace
  • Innovation Watch

Generating solar energy from space

Renewable solar energy harvested from space could help us to meet net zero by putting large arrays of photovoltaic panels in orbit to send solar energy down to Earth.

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A man sitting at a table, holding a prototype of a prosthetic hand based on the classic 'split hook' style
  • Design & manufacturing
  • Health & medical
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 95

Making prosthetics without compromise

Prosthetics for upper limb differences often involve a choice between something user-friendly and affordable, or aesthetically pleasing. University of Strathclyde-based startup Metacarpal is trying to bring all three elements together with a new body-powered prosthetic hand.

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  • Aerospace
  • Design & manufacturing
  • Technology & robotics
  • Innovation Watch

How AI can help 3D print perfect plane parts

Finding and correcting 3D printing errors is especially tough in the aerospace sector: a part with even a 300-micron defect could be catastrophic.

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An aerial photo of a wind farm producing renewable energy, which is used by electrolysers to make green hydrogen.
  • Environment & sustainability
  • Energy
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 96

The clean energy pioneers

Ceres Power have found a way to make green hydrogen – thought to be an essential part of our energy transition – at scale.

  • Design & manufacturing
  • Chemical
  • Environment & sustainability
  • Materials
  • Innovation Watch

Kicking single-use plastics to the curb

This spider-silk inspired plastic alternative produces no plastic alternatives – unlike existing "compostable" plastics.

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A computer display, whose interface can guide a robotic arm with a magnetic appendage above a model of the colon.
  • Health & medical
  • Technology & robotics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 94

Perfecting pain-free colonoscopies

Researchers are developing magnetically guided robotic instruments to make colonoscopies less painful for patients.

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  • Civil & structural
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Innovation Watch

The sensors making cities and structures smarter

UtterBerry’s matchbox-sized sensors form a network, akin to the human body’s sensory system, that provides early warning when maintenance might be needed or damage repaired.

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  • Civil & structural
  • Health & medical
  • Innovation Watch

The startup purifying water in partnership with low-income communities

Access to clean water is a fundamental human need, yet hundreds of millions worldwide go without it. Cambridge-based social enterprise Blue Tap has one solution – a low-cost device that purifies water by precisely injecting chlorine into a local water supply.

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  • Technology & robotics
  • Sports & leisure
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 93

Bend it like a simulated avatar

The world's top free-kick-takers can curve a football in a way the goalkeeper can’t anticipate. Training to save these is no easy task. Now, Belfast startup INCISIV just might have a helping hand for goalies, with an ultra-programmable virtual reality technology.

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  • Arts & culture
  • Technology & robotics
  • Innovation Watch

How AI can unearth archaeological sites

Humans from long ago have left all kinds of marks on landscapes. An AI tool from startup ArchAI, could help find these ancient traces.

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  • Environment & sustainability
  • Materials
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 92

Imaging the plastic recycling process

Chemical engineer Dr Kit Windows-Yule is using an innovative imaging technique to improve the chemical process of breaking plastics down into oil.

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Ryan Mario Yasin in the studio behind a desk. He holds a ruler over his clothing designs and clothing samples can be seen on the desk in front of him.
  • Environment & sustainability
  • Arts & culture
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 91

Clothes that grow with children

By the time they reach the age of two, babies go through seven clothing sizes, only adding to the fashion industry’s impact on the planet. London-based Petit Pli is on a mission to lessen the burden, with childrenswear that grows with the wearer.

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A woman with an afro standing in front of three specialist detangler combs.
  • Design & manufacturing
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 90

The afro hair comb inspired by printing

Swansea-based engineer Dr Youmna Mouhamad is using her R&D experience to invent a hair comb designed to make looking after textured hair easier and less painful.

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A photograph of individual bike parts.
  • Design & manufacturing
  • Mechanical
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 89

Machining titanium components

Titanium has a high tensile strength and is light in weight but notoriously difficult to work with. Ed Mason has developed a way to machine the metal and has built a reputation for producing high-end custom-made parts for titanium bicycles.

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A person taking a live image of themselves with their phone. Their face can be seen behind the phone and also in the front screen of the phone taking a photograph.
  • Software & computer science
  • Technology & robotics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 88

Remote and secure ID verification

Charlette N’Guessan is an Ivorian tech entrepreneur who is passionate about solving local challenges with technology. She used her software engineering background to launch BACE API, a digital identity verification system currently being used in financial services in West Africa.

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Six blocks of varying height showing the various stages and consistency of product between seaweed and sustainable packaging.
  • Environment & sustainability
  • Food & agriculture
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 87

Edible packaging

Half of plastic packaging is used once and thrown away. Notpla has developed sustainably sourced seaweed packaging to hold liquids, which decomposes in less than six weeks.

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A pair of glasses made from food waste on a stand.
  • Environment & sustainability
  • Arts & culture
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 86

From food waste to fashion

Chip[s] Board is turning potato peel into sustainable bioplastics for the fashion and interior design industries to simultaneously tackle the problems of food waste and plastic pollution.

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The HICI box that is lit up with green and placed on the dashboard of a car, with a blurry countryside road in the background.
  • Maritime & naval
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 85

Traffic lights for the tide

The Holy Island Causeway Indicator is a small gadget that lights up to show visitors whether the causeway is safe at a glance, helping prevent people getting stranded due to flooding.

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Sorin Poppa sitting on a chair at a workbench, holding the Pathfinder ePATH catheter kit which is attached to wires on his workbench.
  • Health & medical
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 84

Reducing surgeries for dialysis patients

Pathfinder Medical has invented a minimally invasive catheter guidance technology that will improve clinical outcomes for patients across the globe.

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  • Design & manufacturing
  • Civil & structural
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 83

Another brick in the wall

With natural resources running low, Scottish engineers have created a brick that uses more than 90% recycled building materials.

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A pregnant women lying down on a hospital bed, talking to a nurse. The women is wearing the Monica Novii wireless patch system on her belly
  • Health & medical
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 82

Wireless foetal monitor

The Monica Novii wireless patch system is a wearable device for women in labour that continuously monitors the baby’s heartbeat. It has won many obstetric and engineering awards, including the Campbell Mitchell Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

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  • Software & computer science
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 81

Darktrace, an immune system for computers

Darktrace has developed AI software designed to detect and defend against cyber threats from within computer networks – an immune system for computers.

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Brian Mwenda holding the sixth sense device and standing next to a visually impaired person smiling holding a white cane outside the gates of Kenya's Institute for the Blind.
  • Technology & robotics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 80

Echo-location for navigation

The Sixth Sense is a handheld device that uses echo-location and haptic feedback to help people with visual impairments and blindness get about safely.

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The A-Ultra handheld device resting against a helmet displaying the words '100% complete no damage' on it's screen.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 79

Ultrasonic armour inspection

A-Ultra is a portable device that uses sensors to check body armour for damage in just 10 seconds, saving time and money and making such inspections simple in even remote locations.

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  • Food & agriculture
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 78

Robots in the field

Engineers began developing a robot designed to autonomously pick and sort strawberries. Three designs later, the first group of 24 robots is reaching UK fields this summer to navigate the crops and select ripe fruit, before picking, inspecting and packing the strawberries.

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Two hands playing the ROLI instrument, stretched out across the silicon touchpad.
  • Arts & culture
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 77

A new way to make music

A team of engineers has developed a range of instruments that is changing the way people make music. ROLI combines digital technologies and pressure-sensitive silicone so that users can generate sounds with the lightest touch.

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Three models of the orange and black Q-bot Spraybot robots, on a sandy floor next to a brick wall.
  • Technology & robotics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 76

Heating homes with robots

Construction technology company Q-Bot has created robots that can install underfloor insulation without messy construction work, solving the problem of heat loss, that occurs when suspended flooring is installed in homes and allows the entry of cold air.

  • Design & manufacturing
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 75

A tough lock to break

A successful online Kickstarter campaign helped to launch an award-winning, lightweight cycle lock that is now sold in over 70 countries and is the only bike lock on the market that closes without a key.

The Oxford Space Systems deployable antenna on a metal box.
  • Aerospace
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 75

Space-saving solutions for satellites

Harwell space business Oxford Space Systems is pioneering a new generation of deployable antennas and structures that are lighter, can be stowed more efficiently, and are more cost-effective than current alternatives for the global satellite industry.

A terra nova tent in a field,  with a grey outside and yellow inside lining. It is held up by a semi-circular polar in the middle, and vertical pole at each end, with pegs to keep the fabric in place.
  • Design & manufacturing
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 74

A more convenient way to camp

In 2004, a small British manufacturer produced a tent that weighed less than a kilogram. Since then, Terra Nova Equipment has continued to push camping technology boundaries, holding the world record for producing a 500-gram tent – the lightest that is commercially available.

The gravimeter placed next to a ruler for scale. The device includes an LED light source, micro-electromechanical systems and a photodiode (i.e. a shadow sensor).
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Technology & robotics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 73

The world's smallest gravimeter

Researchers at the University of Glasgow have adapted smartphone accelerometer technology to make the first small and affordable gravimeter, the Wee-g, able to detect tiny changes in gravity.

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A handheld case containing Arclight.
  • Health & medical
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 72

The affordable diagnostic tool saving sight in low-income countries

Arclight, a low-cost, solar-powered diagnostic eye-care tool, is being used by thousands of health workers in low-income countries to identify preventable sight loss conditions.

Vertical farming system.
  • Food & agriculture
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 71

Farming straight up

Hydroponics, growing plants without soil in nutrient-enriched water, is a technique that has been used in some form for centuries. As the global population grows and food security is threatened, its faster growth and larger yields have become increasingly important.

Armourgel bodysuit with extra protection around the elbows and back.
  • Materials
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 70

Thin and flexible but tough protection

Armourgel, an energy-absorbing material that can be incorporated into clothing, is being adapted from its origins in sportswear into a protective device for the hip that aims to protect the weak and fragile hip bones of osteoporosis patients and frequent fallers.

The Gobbler boat with a person on it at Southampton Port.
  • Environment & sustainability
  • Maritime & naval
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 69

An appetite for oil

The Gobbler boat’s compact and lightweight dimensions coupled with complex oil-skimming technology provide a safer and more effective way of containing and cleaning up oil spills, both in harbour and at sea.

The Dearman engine with gears and chains.
  • Mechanical
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 68

Delivering clean cold and power

Global technology company Dearman has developed a family of engines that uses liquid air to deliver zero-emission power and cooling, with Sainsbury’s becoming the first company in the world to introduce a refrigerated delivery truck cooled by this novel engine.

  • Energy
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 64

New energy pioneers

London-based BBOXX supplies solar-powered battery boxes to customers in developing countries. Their remote monitoring and battery management system was one of the winners of the 2015 Bloomberg New Energy Finance Award.

A person in a high visibility jacket, crouching down holding a CableSniffer device, holding a wire to the ground outside.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 63

Cable fault locator

The winner of the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s 2014 Innovation Award was EA Technology’s CableSnifferTM, which uses a probe and chemical sensing technology to identify faults, saving energy companies millions of pounds each year.

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Someone putting medicines into a freezer.
  • Design & manufacturing
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 62

Super cool(er)

Welsh startup Sure Chill has developed a cooler that uses the properties of water to keep its contents cool for around 10 days without electricity. This is ideal for storing items such as vaccines where electricity sources are unreliable.

The strengthened Ashton bridge.
  • Civil & structural
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 61

FlexiArch

Arch bridges are strong, durable and require little maintenance. However, very few had been built since the early 1900s until the FlexiArch was developed and launched in 2007. Now, there has been a minor renaissance for this ancient form of construction.