This year’s KTP Awards are celebrating the hard work of KTP support teams across the country. The Technical Excellence Award recognises partnerships which demonstrate excellence in the application of science, technology, engineering or maths.

 Read on to see who is in contention for this award at the Innovate UK KTP Awards, happening in Liverpool on 12th October (register here).

 

inov-8
The University of Manchester
Dr Nadiim Domun as the Associate

The need to prolong the lifespan of a shoe both from an environmental and financial point of view for committed trail and ultra runners, adventure-seeking hikers and fitness athletes is increasingly growing. 

inov-8 is one of the world’s leading in all-terrain footwear, clothing, and equipment brands. Operating in over 60 countries, inov-8 pride itself in designing high-quality, innovative products in both running, hiking and fitness sectors.

 The objectives of this KTP were to develop, embed and exploit graphene-rubber and graphene-PU foam formulations for new footwear ranges, by drawing from the University of Manchester’s world-leading graphene technology. 

inov-8 is the first-ever sports footwear company to introduce graphene into sports shoes. Graphene, the world’s most robust material, has been infused in the rubber outsoles of their shoes, making them tougher and more durable than any other soft rubber outsoles on the market. 

The graphene-enhanced rubber outsoles and foam-cushioned midsoles increase the elastic and hard-wearing properties by properties by 50%, and subsequently increase the lifespan of their shoes. 

 Significant media coverage associated with the project enhanced the university’s reputation, consolidating its position as a world leader in materials science.

In leading this project, Dr Domun gained a wealth of commercial and management skills. After accepting a role at inov-8 as Senior Materials Engineer, they continue to support product innovation and collaboration with the knowledge base.

The KTP has been a catalyst in providing growth, increase in global revenue as well as delivering product innovation to a niche market. The incorporation of graphene in footwear has enabled inov-8 to excel and deliver significant performance advantages over competitors.  

IGS
James Hutton Institute / Scotland’s Rural College
Dr Elliot Erskine as the Associate

The importance of food safety and security cannot be overstated, and interest in vertical farming has increased in the last 2 years. 

IGS provides Vertical Farm solutions as well as designs, manufactures, and instals and supports their global customer base with their innovative Growth Tower product. 

 The KTP intended to incorporate James Hutton Institute’s (and later, SRUC’s) microbiological expertise into IGS’s controlled environment agriculture Growth Tower, to understand the impact of the novel vertical farming technology on food safety. 

To accomplish the above, the objectives were to identify the potential microbial hazards for single target crop species, incorporate next-generation sequencing and taxonomic identification, and develop a risk framework examining the hazards through the crop production process.

 The risk framework completed went beyond a single crop species to look at the hazards across multiple compartments of IGS’s Growth Tower and spanned the air, water, substrate, and seeds of both short- and long-term crops.

The value of a comprehensive microbial risk assessment is in the assurance that it

provides to customers – that the Growth Tower can achieve (and exceed) food safety standards in their chosen markets. This improved competitiveness over other controlled environment technology providers.

Complexities surrounding predicting bacterial contamination of leafy greens eliminate the possibility of using end-product testing to ensure food safety. Dr Erskine built a model examining the probabilities of contamination within the irrigation system causing foodborne illness in a consumer.

Using mathematical models, Dr Erkine undertook an initial prototype design and deployment of a web-based application that allows customers and IGS employees to interact with the risk register and select inputs based on their situation, giving them the ability to assess modifications to processes and procedures. 

An additional outcome was the development; of a bespoke management plan which supported the donation of perishable food to communities throughout the pandemic.

 The KTP has raised the profile of IGS in the food safety field and is helping to establish the reputation of IGS as a leader in vertical farming technology. The scientific content of the project built on James Hutton Institute’s previous work to understand the risks associated with the transmission of harmful pathogens via leafy vegetables, and provided the institute with further recognition within the scientific community.

 The Partnership brought together all 4 areas of STEM, using synergies across the partnership to build an academic and industrial understanding of food safety in vertical farming.

 

South West Water Limited
University of Exeter
Joshua Myrans as the Associate

South West Water (SWW) provides reliable, efficient and high-quality drinking water and wastewater services to a population of roughly 2.2 million. When the water industry moved out of the public sector, SWW inherited outdated infrastructure which had been outgrown by the populations they served. Consequently, they have invested heavily in modernisation, aligning them with stringent environmental standards and regulations.

 The inspection and maintenance of SWW’s infrastructure are key to maintaining optimal services. These networks are the core of SWW’s business model as they provide vital resources to communities, safely manage effluent to prevent pollution and protect the surrounding environment.

 For the University of Exeter’s academic team, the KTP would provide an industry-focused, real-world application of machine learning and image processing techniques. Their team would be exposed to the most up-to-date engineering practices in detecting sewer faults and running wastewater systems.

 The KTP aimed to develop and apply image processing and machine learning methods to automatically detect structural and serviceability faults in sewer pipes using standard CCTV surveys, and use this to develop a novel fault detection software. This fault detection technology would increase the reliability of the sewer network, helping SWW to proactively and effectively manage blockages, collapses and related issues. 

Expected results include a reduction in pollution and negative impacts on customers, an increased business cost efficiency, avoidance of regulatory penalties and a new income stream to SWW through software commercialisation.

 The project aims were achieved by developing, testing, validating and demonstrating the new fault detection technology. The suite of tools developed utilises powerful machine learning and computer vision techniques to identify the presence, type 

and details of a sewer fault, making it possible to automate the identification of sewer defects from CCTV surveys for the first time in the UK water industry. 

The KTP played a pivotal role in increasing the company’s capability to process historical and new survey data, predicting a reduction of up to 30% in the time taken to produce a sewer survey. Myrans was awarded a prestigious UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship to fully flesh out this fledgling technology for the needs of the water industry.

SWW hopes that the findings of this KTP will enable the automatic identification and coding of sewer faults to all UK water and sewerage companies.

Register for the KTP Awards 2022

The KTP Awards recognise the people and partnerships behind the UK’s most inspiring and successful KTP projects. Highlighting these outstanding partnerships is just the tip of the iceberg, with more than 800 inspiring collaborations currently happening across the country.

If you want to attend the awards virtually or join us in person, you can register here.

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