Big Ideas for Business

Dr Phil Extance, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Business Partnerships & Knowledge Transfer 

Dr Phil Extance - Pro-Vice-Chancellor
“Businesses need great people and new ideas – and that is what universities provide.  Employable graduates from Aston, mostly with real work experience through placements, are an obvious output from our university but bright young people can also be part of your business through undergraduate placements, Masters projects, research projects, knowledge transfer partnerships and in many other ways – it is worth talking to us about how we can supply you with great new ideas – with legs attached!

"Aston University has a track record of carrying out exploitable research that is readily translated from an academic world into real products and services and that provides a catalyst to businesses to do thing differently.  Bringing together the knowledge base of university academics with real challenges faced by businesses will yield new solutions and new insights – innovation comes from trying new things – give it a go!”

Pace Systems

Pace Systems International Ltd is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of covert security and surveillance equipment. Their core business is specialising in the manufacturing of covert surveillance vehicles of all types, and providing total solutions for integrated covert camera and audio systems. They are a preferred supplier to government, government agencies, law enforcement agencies, emergency services, and the defence sectors. They have teamed up with Aston University to carry out cutting-edge research and development programmes with the help of a Knowledge transfer Partnership (KTP) Associate.

How has the link between Aston University and PACE Systems been beneficial?

Through the KTP scheme Pace Systems has been able to continue to invest in Research and Development during the recession. The KTP Associate, Syed, holds both Bachelor and Master of Science degrees. He was named a Young Business Leader of Tomorrow and has been involved in innovative and exciting design work. The 25 year old steered the company through the ISO 9001 Quality Management process. He is now leading projects in UAV's (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and their civil and military applications, which include potentially lifesaving aspects.

What is different about this project?

The nature of the work carried out by Pace Systems is very interesting - they develop specialist surveillance equipment and work with both the police and the military.

Syed himself is a very accomplished design engineer and the match with Pace has been exceptionally good. The project was recognised in the Innovation and Technology Awards last November and Syed was recently named the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships’ (KTP) Young Business Leader of Tomorrow. The national award was for his outstanding achievements in cutting edge design technology which resulted in a 50% increase in the company’s international sales of new products over the past two years.

Further information:

Mr Syed Kazmi, Aston University: 07515 565961 or kazmiss@aston.ac.uk
Les Leek, Pace Systems: 01788 522536 or les.leek@pace-systems.co.uk

Insight Health

A cleaning product capable of tackling hospital ‘superbugs’ is being created by Aston University’s Life and Health Sciences and healthcare company Insight Health Limited.

This Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project, aims to develop the commercial formulation of a liquid ‘germination solution’ to be used in the elimination of hospital acquired infections, particularly Clostridium difficile.

The scheme combines the research expertise of Aston’s microbiologists and Insight Health Limited’s infrastructure and marketing knowledge of the health sector. The partnership will allow swift transfer from drawing board to hospital implementation, converting the results of laboratory scale trials into safe, commercially viable products.

How has the link between Aston University and Insign Health been beneficial?

Aston University microbiologists have a wealth of research experience associated with the diagnosis and prevention of hospital acquired infections, including MRSA, bacterial biofilms, catheter related sepsis and acinetobacter. Combining Aston’s research expertise with Insight Health Limited’s sector knowledge will see the development of innovative new products, which will further strengthen the company’s links within the healthcare and manufacturing sectors. This KTP collaboration will hopefully contribute to reducing the C. difficile burden.

What is different about this project?

This new solution will potentially contribute to reducing infection rates and deaths from C.difficile, and associated NHS financial costs.

Clostridium difficile is the most common hospital acquired infection and is contracted by approximately 50,000 patients annually, causing approximately 6,500 deaths. This new solution, combined with developed cleansing regimes will potentially contribute to reducing levels of infection, which in turn would reduce the mortality rate. It has also been calculated that each infection costs approximately £4,000 to treat; making a reduction in infection rates have a significant financial impact on hospital trusts. In addition, the patients’ stay in hospital would be reduced which would minimise the potential for acquiring other infections and increase the overall throughput of patients due to improved bed availability. 

Further information:

Dr Tony Worthington, Aston University: t.worthington@aston.ac.uk  or 0121 204 3951
Insight Health Limited: J
ohn Rawlinson j.rawlinson@insightbio.com
  or 0800 073 3133


Scout7 Limited provides scouting and recruitment management solutions to professional football clubs and national associations worldwide. Now, working in unison with Aston University, they have taken on two Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Associates to expand and adapt to meet market needs, to ensure they continue to play a major role in shaping the future of professional football scouting.

Scout7 is the acknowledged world leader in its field, but following the explosion of interest in professional football around the globe, the company was presented with a rare if not unique opportunity in the summer of 2010. To continue its growth, Scout7 had to re-engineer its core product (its football database) to meet changing market expectations. The academic team of Drs David Evans, Dympna O’Sullivan and Tony Beaumont from Aston University’s Knowledge Engineering Research Group had both the academic knowledge and the practical experience of partnering with commercial organisations in the development of object-oriented database structures, applications interfaces for novel access channels, and software methodologies.

Two KTP Associates are currently working on this exciting project, which is now approaching its halfway stage. One associate is focussing on the development of “Football Data Centre” (FDC); an adaptable data resource to be encapsulated within a web-service oriented architecture. The second associate is focussing on application services enabling the client to present and manipulate the data to meet their specific requirements in an integrated framework. The objectives are to deliver the creation of software processes and a framework to deliver and maintain high quality software.

How has the link between Aston University and Scout7 been beneficial?

The combination of Scout7’s successful model, with the expertise that the KTP Associates are offering in conjunction with Aston University, is giving Scout7 the knowledge and capability to move forward in this fast-paced market.

The Lead academic Dr David Evans, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science, says: “This project is helping the academic team further our real world experience of service oriented computing. It is generating case studies for taught programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level, as well as excellent material for final year project students with real practical relevance. All of this combined shows the clear benefits of the programme to the academics involved.”

Scout7 Operations Director and project supervisor, Mr Bradford Griffiths, said: “The work being carried out by our two KTP Associates is core to the release of Scout7’s next generation products.  The project will allow us to easily customise solutions to meet our client’s needs, as well as providing a generic platform for continued expansion and the integration and delivery of 3rd party applications and data to our clients.”

What is different about this project?

The collaboration between Aston and Scout 7 can be directly linked to Premiership football.

The resulting product, ProScout 7, is a database of more than 110,000 professional footballers from more than 100 countries that provides up-to-date statistics on performance, injury history, transfers and disciplinary records.

Further information:

Dr David Evans, Aston University: d.j.evans@aston.ac.uk  or 0121 204 3463
Andy Cooper, Scout7:andyc@scout7.com or 07917 121 971