£100k win for University’s knowledge transfer excellence

30 November 2006 – for immediate release

Aston University has won a top award in the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council’s (EPSRC) first Knowledge Transfer Challenge, to develop innovative approaches to turning today’s research into tomorrow’s products and services.

The University was presented with �100,000 to invest in further knowledge transfer projects on the evening of Tuesday 21st November at the Institution of Civil Engineers in Westminster, London.

The judges included Lord Alec Broers, Chair, House of Lords Select Committee for Science and Technology and Dr Catherine Beech, DTI Technology Strategy Board member and Founding Partner, Cambridge Gateway Fund.

Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, congratulated the winners and said:

’The high calibre of the five finalists shows the tremendous strength of UK research in engineering and the physical sciences. The UK has a rich history in innovation and discovery in these areas and it's great to see so many researchers continuing this trend.

’For research to be truly useful, it needs to be turned into the products and services that we will need in the future and these awards will support this process. The winners have a proven track record in taking their research all the way through to developing viable businesses, which is exactly the kind of work we want to encourage.

’Boosting innovation is key to helping us to create the products and services to benefit our economy and society in years to come.’

With almost a million pounds in prizes at stake, the competitors had to convince the judging panel that they had innovative ideas for undertaking future knowledge transfer activity and were offering the best investment for the prize money.

Aston’s proposal highlighted the collaborative work between its Biomaterials Research Unit and First Water Ltd (a professional wound care specialist), to help devise new products, install improved process technology and boost manufacturing efficiency. Thanks to the collaboration, First Water’s products now allow wounds to heal more quickly and help to reduce the cost of treatment incurred by healthcare providers.

Aston plans to use the winnings to develop a unique new regional innovation voucher scheme called INDEX which is set to revolutionise the way businesses interact with universities.*

Professor Julia King, Vice-Chancellor Designate at Aston University, expressed her delight at the University’s achievement in winning the award and said: ‘Our proposal is built on our underlying knowledge transfer philosophy – to identify innovative ways of harnessing university research in order to meet the needs of industry, commerce and the public services.’


* For more information on INDEX, and to obtain a copy of the Scheme’s dedicated press release, please contact Paul Burkwood on 0121 204 4258 or email p.burkwood@aston.ac.uk

For further media information please contact Sally Hoban, Senior Press/PR Officer, on 0121 204 4552.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. For more information on EPSRC visit www.epsrc.ac.uk.

Picture caption:

From left to right: John Bailey - Director of Business Partnership Unit, Aston University

Dr Howard Gee - Head of Quality and Regulatory Affairs, First Water Ltd

Dame Julia Higgins - Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Alistair Darling - Secretary of State for Trade and Industry

Dr Phil Extance - Director of Innovation, Advantage West Midlands

Professor Julia King – Vice-Chancellor Designate, Aston University

Lord Alec Broers - Chair of judging panel, House of Lords Select Committee for Science and Technology.

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research