Category / Knowledge Exchange and Impact Team

Innovate UK – Current funding opportunites to develop innovative products or services

 

InnovateUK_LogoA_Interim_RGBx320govuk[1]Open funding competition

Innovate UK is investing up to £15 million in innovative R&D projects, in an open competition targeted at a whole range of technology, engineering and industrial areas. Are you working with a UK company that may be interested ? (This competition is open to all UK companies.)

For more information click here.

Manufacturing and materials

Innovate UK is to invest up to £15 million in innovation projects in manufacturing and/or materials. These projects will focus on identified technical or commercial challenges. Funding for projects will be for  projects that aim to lead to increased UK SME productivity, competitiveness and growth.

Click here to find out more.

Women in Innovation: infocus award

Innovate UK has up to £200,000 and a package of tailored support to award to businesswomen who have exciting ideas and the potential to become leaders in innovation and deliver economic growth.

To find ouut more and apply click here.

Connected digital additive manufacturing

Apply for a share of £4.5 million for innovation projects that develop smarter, better connected 3D printing solutions. Projects must show a significant innovation step in both additive manufacturing and connected digital manufacturing.

Click here to find out more.

Agri-food innovation in Turkey

Innovate UK is to invest up to £1.5 million for UK participants developing innovative solutions to challenges within the agri-food sector in Turkey. We are running this competition in partnership with the Newton-Kâtip Çelebi Fund.

Find out more and apply.

Energy Catalyst round 4

Technology innovation is needed to solve the global energy sector ‘trilemma’ of: low carbon, security of supply and affordability.  Innovate UK are  looking for innovative solutions in any technology or sector area. For round 4, applications must also be relevant to the needs of developing countries.

Click here to find out more.

If you are interested in submitting to any of the above calls you must contact your  RKEO Funding Development Officer with adequate notice before the deadline.

For more funding opportunities that are most relevant to you, you can set up your own personalised alerts on Research Professional. If you need help setting these up, just ask your School’s/Faculty’s Funding Development Officer in  RKEO or view the recent blog post here.

If thinking of applying, why not add notification of your interest on Research Professional’s record of the bid so that BU colleagues can see your intention to bid and contact you to collaborate.

HEIF – Frequently asked questions

andrew archery

Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF): money available to support your business engagement and knowledge exchange ideas – call deadline Friday 1 July

More information can be found here.

HEFCE provide funding for knowledge exchange –  Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) to support and develop a broad range of knowledge-based interactions between universities and colleges and the wider world, which result in economic and social benefit to the UK. The current round of funding is referred to is HEIF 5+1+1 and runs until 31st July 2017.

There is a variety of  information  to help you with your application and provide answers to some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs):

Current projects

BU has a proven track record with this funding stream and our success continues. Currently there are 13 live projects funded from HEIF 5+1. Examples of current projects can be found on the project pages on the BU research website and include:

Why not talk to current HEIF project leads? Click here. (Scroll down the page for contact details and project information.)

FAQs information

Click here.

Common questions include:

Q: Do I need external letters of support?

A: These are not required as part of your application. On the application form there is a requirement to list members of the project board so naturally they would need to have been contacted to advise them of your project proposal and their involvement. There is no reason why you can’t mention the background behind the formation of your project board but letters of support are not needed.

Q: How much can I bid for?

A: Whilst there is no minimum or maximum amount  for HEIF funding you do need to be realistic in terms of your project proposal and budget. All monies need to be spent and this is not always easy within a 12 month timescale. On average previous 12 month HEIF project bids have been between £20K – £50K, however both smaller and larger amounts have also been awarded.

RKEO contact

For more information on HEIF and other knowledge exchange opportunities, please contact Jayne Codling Knowledge Exchange Adviser (RKEO).

HEIF call is now live – reminder

andrew archery

Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF): money available to support your business engagement and knowledge exchange ideas – call deadline Friday 1 July

More information can be found here.

HEFCE provide funding for knowledge exchange –  Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) to support and develop a broad range of knowledge-based interactions between universities and colleges and the wider world, which result in economic and social benefit to the UK. The current round of funding is referred to is HEIF 5+1+1 and runs until 31st July 2017.

BU has a proven track record with this funding stream and our success continues. Currently there are 13 live projects funded from HEIF 5+1. Examples of current projects can be found on the project pages on the BU research website and include:

Interim funding has been made available to run from 1 August 2016 to 31 July 2017. This is known as HEIF 5+1+1. (Funds cannot be carried over.)

The call is now open.   (These innovative projects can be new or build on existing activity that may strengthen and/or facilitate future funding applications.)

Call schedule

Action Date
Call w/c   – applications open w/c 06/06/16
Proposal deadline – applications close 01/07/16 Friday
Proposal review process 04/07/16   – 18/07/16
Successful projects announced w/c 18/07/16
New project funding starts 01/08/16

These projects will need to reflect our interim strategy sent to HEFCE (as below):

“BU will continue to invest in innovation themes with a strong focus on network creation, with a particular focus on digital and creative industries, health and wellbeing, and regional development. The additional year of funding will enable BU to continue to develop our existing area in addition to investment to develop new innovations. This will allow BU to create innovations in key areas, whilst developing closer links with regional initiatives to enhance local development opportunities, working with the Dorset LEP and other organisations. We will also consider the use of HEIF funds to invest in effective mechanisms for engaging with business/industry. Our core strategy of investing in sector-specific themes with a strong focus on network creation remains; what has changed in light of emerging opportunities is the nature of the themes in which we will invest and the mechanisms through which we will engage with the region.”

Themes could include but are not exclusive to:

  • Biodiversity, Natural and Cultural Assets (e.g. environmental sciences, archaeology,)
  • Global Security
  • Healthcare technologies (e.g. sensors, robotics, virtual reality, augmented reality, gamification, mobile apps)
  • Economic growth and innovation.

Interdisciplinary working will need to be evident in successful proposals. Project boards including academics and external organisations will also need to be identified as part of the proposal.

If you are considering an application for HEIF funding you may find it helpful  to speak to the current HEIF project leads (HEIF 5+1: 01/08/15 – 31/07/16) to identify how best to develop your proposal and consider existing HEIF project activity where relevant.  More information is listed below:

PI PI email PI ext Title of proposal
Adrian Newton anewton@bournemouth.ac.uk 65670 Development of a toolkit for modelling natural capital
Alison McConnell amcconnell@bournemouth.ac.uk 62313 Final stage development and validation of a mobile device App to reduce blood pressure
Genoveva Esteban gesteban@bournemouth.ac.uk 68936 The Dorset Coast Digital Archive (DCDA)
Heather Hartwell hhartwell@bournemouth.ac.uk 61712 FoodSMART (proof of concept)
Hongnian Yu yuh@bournemouth.ac.uk 66150 Sensor-Integrated Urometer for measuring real-time urine output
Jian Chang jchang@bournemouth.ac.uk 61881 Virtual Prototyping of New Lifeboat Launching System with Unmanned Vehicles to Enhance Safety
Kathy Hodder khodder@bournemouth.ac.uk 66784 Enhancing Urban Green Space for Pollinators – Decision Making Hub
Kevin McGhee kmcghee@bournemouth.ac.uk 68189 Psychiatric Genetic Counselling for Healthcare Professionals (PGC4HP): First UK pilot study, regional knowledge exchange and global impact.
Mark Brisbane mbrisbane@bournemouth.ac.uk 65166 Building Roman Britain: Innovative investigations of Roman building material and knowledge exchange through museum interpretation and learning.
Richard Stillman rstillman@bournemouth.ac.uk 66782 Simply communicating complex research to inform environmental decision-making
Sarah Bate sbate@bournemouth.ac.uk 61918 Superior Face Recognition: Generating Knowledge Exchange with the Police Force
Stephen Jukes sjukes@bournemouth.ac.uk 65630 Hazardous environment training for journalists: a mobile training platform
Wen Tang wtang@bournemouth.ac.uk 62498 “PLUS” Knowledge Exchange Partnership Building with Regional Police Forces on Developing  New Police Training Methodologies Using Role-playing Games Technology

FAQs click here.

Application form click here.

For more information on HEIF and other knowledge exchange opportunities, please contact Jayne Codling Knowledge Exchange Adviser (RKEO).

CLASP – Energy and Environment Call

energy management
Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Innovations Club are holding a Launch Event for the STFC 2016 Challenge Led Applied Systems Programme (CLASP) call. The event will be held in the Harvey Goodwin suite of the Church House Conference Centre, London on the 5th July 2016.
CLASP is intended to support the de-risking of the R&D process for industry through the development of technology demonstrators and industry-ready prototype systems.
The focus of the 2016 CLASP call is Energy and Environment. The launch event aims to bring together academia, industry and knowledge exchange professionals to discuss how CLASP can support projects that apply STFC-funded research and capabilities to address key energy and environment challenges.
Up to £1.5M will be available in this call to fund a range of projects, from short feasibility studies to larger developmental projects.  Proposals will have a focus on, but not limited to, key priority areas that will be identified by a focus group composed of stakeholders.  These priority areas will be announced shortly before the launch event.
The day will comprise of presentations from academic researchers and industry figures highlighting their work in energy and the environment, as well as information on funding opportunities and opportunities to meet potential future collaborators.
For more information contact: Stephen Loader or Vlad Skarda or go to www.stfc.ac.uk/clasp
Please register here to attend the day.
If you are interested in developing a proposal following this launch event, you must contact your  RKEO Funding Development Officer with adequate notice before the deadline.
For more funding opportunities that are most relevant to you, you can set up your own personalised alerts on Research Professional. If you need help setting these up, just ask your School’s/Faculty’s Funding Development Officer in  RKEO or view the recent blog post here.
If thinking of applying, why not add notification of your interest on Research Professional’s record of the bid so that BU colleagues can see your intention to bid and contact you to collaborate.
 

Academic Development Opportunity – Engagement with a Business Audience

The Knowledge Exchange and Impact Team within the Research and Knowledge Exchange Office have put together a one-day development event for academic colleagues who wish to engage with organisations.

This activity takes place daily across the Institution, however if you are interested in learning about how to engage and communicate with a business audience including developing relationships and networking, this one-day development event will help you.

Lunch is included with refreshments throughout the day.

Venue: Marriott Hotel, Bournemouth

Date: Tuesday 19th July

Time: 9am-4.30pm

For further information and to book your place, please contact Rachel Clarke, Knowledge Exchange Adviser (KTP and Student Projects) on 61347 or email clarker@bournemouth.ac.uk  

NCCPE Engage Competition 2016

The bi-annual NCCPE Engage Competition has launched for 2016, aiming to recognise and reward high quality examples of public engagement with research. The competition first ran in 2014, when 230 entries were received and awarded prizes to some exceptional engagement projects.

This year there are six competition categories, and the winner of each category will receive a prize of £1,500 to go towards further public engagement work at their institution. The winners and runners-up from each category will be celebrated at an awards ceremony as part of Engage 2016, the NCCPE’s annual conference, this year on the 29th and 30th November.

Please follow the link for more details!

Higher Education Innovation Fund – Call is now open!

andrew archery

Further to the blog post advising this call was soon to be announced – applications are invited for the latest round of HEIF funding. This call is now open.

All the information can be found here.

This includes:

  • Call schedule
  • Application form
  • Frequently asked questions (FAQS)

Both the application form and the FAQs contain a lot of information relevant to the call in addition to a number of useful links that will help when completing your application form.

 

Funding opportunity – Developing impact through innovation (HEIF)

andrew archery

Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF): money available to support your business engagement and knowledge exchange ideas – call to open soon

HEFCE provide funding for knowledge exchange –  Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) to support and develop a broad range of knowledge-based interactions between universities and colleges and the wider world, which result in economic and social benefit to the UK. The current round of funding is referred to is HEIF 5+1+1 and runs until 31st July 2017.

BU has a proven track record with this funding stream and our success continues. Currently there are 13 live projects funded from HEIF 5+1. Examples of current projects can be found on the project pages on the BU research website and include:

Interim funding has been made available to run from 1 August 2016 to 31 July 2017. This is known as HEIF 5+1+1. (Funds cannot be carried over.)

A call will open soon and circulated internally inviting colleagues to bid for funds to run a 12 month HEIF 5+1+1 project.  (These innovative projects can be new or build on existing activity that may strengthen and/or facilitate future funding applications.)

These projects will need to reflect our interim strategy sent to HEFCE (as below):

“BU will continue to invest in innovation themes with a strong focus on network creation, with a particular focus on digital and creative industries, health and wellbeing, and regional development. The additional year of funding will enable BU to continue to develop our existing area in addition to investment to develop new innovations. This will allow BU to create innovations in key areas, whilst developing closer links with regional initiatives to enhance local development opportunities, working with the Dorset LEP and other organisations. We will also consider the use of HEIF funds to invest in effective mechanisms for engaging with business/industry. Our core strategy of investing in sector-specific themes with a strong focus on network creation remains; what has changed in light of emerging opportunities is the nature of the themes in which we will invest and the mechanisms through which we will engage with the region.”

Themes could include but are not exclusive to:

  • Biodiversity, Natural and Cultural Assets (e.g. environmental sciences, archaeology,)
  • Global Security
  • Healthcare technologies (e.g. sensors, robotics, virtual reality, augmented reality, gamification, mobile apps)
  • Economic growth and innovation.

Interdisciplinary working will need to be evident in successful proposals. Project boards including academics and external organisations will also need to be identified as part of the proposal.

If you are considering an application for HEIF funding you may find it helpful  to speak to the current HEIF project leads (HEIF 5+1: 01/08/15 – 31/07/16) to identify how best to develop your proposal and consider existing HEIF project activity where relevant.  More information is listed below:

 

PI PI email PI ext Title of proposal
Adrian Newton anewton@bournemouth.ac.uk 65670 Development of a toolkit for modelling natural capital
Alison McConnell amcconnell@bournemouth.ac.uk 62313 Final stage development and validation of a mobile device App to reduce blood pressure
Genoveva Esteban gesteban@bournemouth.ac.uk 68936 The Dorset Coast Digital Archive (DCDA)
Heather Hartwell hhartwell@bournemouth.ac.uk 61712 FoodSMART (proof of concept)
Hongnian Yu yuh@bournemouth.ac.uk 66150 Sensor-Integrated Urometer for measuring real-time urine output
Jian Chang jchang@bournemouth.ac.uk 61881 Virtual Prototyping of New Lifeboat Launching System with Unmanned Vehicles to Enhance Safety
Kathy Hodder khodder@bournemouth.ac.uk 66784 Enhancing Urban Green Space for Pollinators – Decision Making Hub
Kevin McGhee kmcghee@bournemouth.ac.uk 68189 Psychiatric Genetic Counselling for Healthcare Professionals (PGC4HP): First UK pilot study, regional knowledge exchange and global impact.
Mark Brisbane mbrisbane@bournemouth.ac.uk 65166 Building Roman Britain: Innovative investigations of Roman building material and knowledge exchange through museum interpretation and learning.
Richard Stillman rstillman@bournemouth.ac.uk 66782 Simply communicating complex research to inform environmental decision-making
Sarah Bate sbate@bournemouth.ac.uk 61918 Superior Face Recognition: Generating Knowledge Exchange with the Police Force
Stephen Jukes sjukes@bournemouth.ac.uk 65630 Hazardous environment training for journalists: a mobile training platform
Wen Tang wtang@bournemouth.ac.uk 62498 “PLUS” Knowledge Exchange Partnership Building with Regional Police Forces on Developing  New Police Training Methodologies Using Role-playing Games Technology

Keep an eye out on the staff intranet, research blog and other staff communication channels for updates as deadlines will be short. For more information on HEIF and other knowledge exchange opportunities, please contact Jayne Codling Knowledge Exchange Adviser (RKEO).

Funding – 3D printing solutions

InnovateUK_LogoA_Interim_RGBx320govuk[1]

Are you working with a business that may be interested in this funding opportunity?

Businesses can apply for a share of £4.5 million for innovation projects that develop smarter, better connected 3D printing solutions.

Innovate UK is investing up to £4.5 million in industrial research projects that will stimulate innovation in additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing.

Additive manufacturing is a well-established tool for rapid prototyping and tooling. It can provide direct production of end-use components and consumer goods. These can be in a wide variety of global market sectors – from medical devices to aerospace.

Businesses can apply for funding to help them explore and develop their wider digital manufacturing capability. Projects must show a significant innovation step in both additive manufacturing and connected digital manufacturing.

Competition information

  • the competition opens on 23 May 2016
  • applicants must register before noon on 20 July 2016
  • a UK-based business must lead the project and work with at least one other business
  • businesses could receive up to 70% of their project costs for industrial research
  • we expect projects to last between 1 and 3 years
  • we expect total eligible project costs for each project to be between £500,000 and £1.5 million
  • there will be a briefing event for potential applicants in London on 7 June 2016

Click here for more information.

Competion brief can be found here.

Innovate UK launches £15m manufacturing call

InnovateUK_LogoA_Interim_RGBx320govuk[1]
Innovate UK has opened a £15-million competition to support the development of novel technologies or production processes across the manufacturing industry.

Projects need to focus on identified technical or commercial challenges. Innovate UK will fund projects that aim to lead to increased UK SME productivity, competitiveness and growth.

Projects need to be led by a business and must involve at least one SME. They can be carried out by an SME working alone or in collaboration with other organisations. Projects with costs of £100,000 or more must involve working with other partners

Innovate UK are looking for projects which focus on any of the technical feasibility, industrial research or experimental development research categories.

Projects should last between 6 months and 3 years. They should range from total costs of £50,000 to £2 million.

Competition brief in full.

Competition guidance.

If you are interested in submitting to any of the above calls you must contact your  RKEO Funding Development Officer with adequate notice before the deadline.

For more funding opportunities that are most relevant to you, you can set up your own personalised alerts on Research Professional. If you need help setting these up, just ask your School’s/Faculty’s Funding Development Officer in  RKEO or view the recent blog post here.

If thinking of applying, why not add notification of your interest on Research Professional’s record of the bid so that BU colleagues can see your intention to bid and contact you to collaborate.

Opportunity to receive updates on knowledge exchange and innovation (AURIL Membership)

AURIL

 

Association for University and Research Links  (AURIL) is the professional association representing all practitioners involved in knowledge creation, development and exchange in the UK and Ireland who work to ensure that new ideas, technologies and innovations flow from their institution into the market place. AURIL has more than 1600 members from universities and public sector research establishments across Europe.

The Association enjoys widespread international recognition through its success in influencing UK government policy. It has strong working relations with the Confederation of British Industry, Universities UK, the UKIPO, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), HM Treasury and Higher Education Funding Councils.

Bournemouth University is a member of this association with a number of academic and professional services support staff members of AURIL.

A number of events are co-ordinated by AURIL during the year including the annual conference – a good way of keeping up-to-date with  what is happening within the sector aswell as a chance to network and meet industry contacts. For more information on this association click here.

You can also opt in to receive regular updates on topics such as EU funding, Local Economic Partnerships (LEP), Student Enterprise & Employability, CPD, Knowledge Exchange. To check out the full list of topics and to be added or to  update your current listing please contact Jayne Codling in RKEO.

The next series of updates will be sent by the end of the month so get your request in soon!

Business networking session – virtual and augmented reality

impact wordle 2

A networking session will take place on 23 May as part of “Impact Week, with the aim of to taking  a closer look at how research can have an impact and make a difference beyond academia, and the ways in which this can be achieved. Developing relationships with external organisations in order to form partnerships and collaborations are just one such way in which to recognise potential “need” for  research.

This is a themed networking session: H2H – bringing research to life (Human2Human). A business networking event on the topic of virtual and augmented reality

Time: 14.30-16.00

Location: PG10 – Talbot campus

Event description:

Virtual and augmented reality offers users new ways of perceiving and interacting with the digital world.  Not limited to the entertainment sectors, this approach can be adopted for both technical and industrial contexts.

This drop in session provides an opportunity to find out more about the topic and approaches currently being undertaken both within and outside the university.  Attendees will have the opportunity to network with academics from BU and local industry partners that may already be involved in projects or are keen to develop collaborations within this area.

Find out more and book now via Eventbrite

 

 

 

 

New frontiers on tech – big data, the cloud and Internet of Things

Technology in the hands
IT giant, Intel Corporation, is undergoing a massive shift in strategy. While jobs fall by the wayside, Intel has its eye firmly on what analysts are calling ‘new frontiers in technology’, and there are signs that the other tech behemoths are set to follow suit.
Last week, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich outlined his strategy for the chip giant in the years ahead, as it struggles to move away from its dependence on the waning PC market.
The thrust of the new strategy is: ‘transforming Intel from a PC company to a company that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices’ and this, says Krzanich, encompasses five core beliefs:
• The cloud is the most important trend shaping the future of the smart, connected world – and thus Intel’s future.
• The many “things” that make up the PC Client business and the internet of things are made much more valuable by their connection to the cloud.
• Memory and programmable solutions such as FPGAs will deliver entirely new classes of products for the data centre and the internet of things.
• 5G will become the key technology for access to the cloud  as we move toward an always-connected world.
• Moore’s Law will continue to progress and Intel will continue to lead in delivering its true economic impact.
For Intel, these core beliefs form a clear virtuous cycle – the cloud and data center, the internet of things, memory s are all bound together by connectivity and enhanced by the economics of Moore’s Law. (Gordon Moore was an Intel co-founder so Moore’s Law is ingrained in the company’s psyche.)
Key to this is the “internet of things,” every device, sensor and console that has potential to connect to the cloud. This means that everything that a “thing” does can be captured as a piece of data, measured in real-time, and becomes accessible from anywhere.
Krzanich believes that: “the biggest opportunity in the internet of things is that it encompasses just about everything in our lives today – it’s ubiquitous. For most areas of industry and retail – from our shoes and clothes to our homes and cars – the internet of things is transforming everything and every experience. At Intel, we will focus on autonomous vehicles, industrial and retail as our primary growth drivers of the internet of things.”
In a time when technology is valued not just for the devices it produces, but for the experiences it makes possible, Intel is banking on the fact that a broader focus, and sharper execution will enable the company to take a lead in a smart, connected world.
Several major corporations have already taken the initiative to push frontier technology, such as Google with its Google Cardboard and Apple’s eventual (maybe?) 3D printer. Layoffs are the inevitable result and, in many cases, are already happening, as more and more companies find themselves having to look in new directions.
With Apple’s iPhone production on the decline comes more evidence that companies’ defining products won’t be what sustains them into the future and that Intel and Krzanich’s new focus on experiences rather than the devices that make these possible is the way to go.

Innovation awards – Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research (PaCCS) – new call to be announced

esrc logo

 

Innovation awards under PaCCS focusing on Conflict and International Development

The ESRC and AHRC will shortly be launching a further call for interdisciplinary innovation awards under the Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research (PaCCS) focusing on Conflict and International Development. (Pre-call.)

Find out more information including the proposed call timescale here.

AHRC information.

If you are interested in submitting to this call you must contact your  RKEO Funding Development Officer with adequate notice before the deadline.

For more funding opportunities that are most relevant to you, you can set up your own personalised alerts on Research Professional. If you need help setting these up, just ask your School’s/Faculty’s Funding Development Officer in  RKEO or view the recent blog post here.

If thinking of applying, why not add notification of your interest on Research Professional’s record of the bid so that BU colleagues can see your intention to bid and contact you to collaborate.

Robotics & Autonomous Systems – US leads robotics investment boom

robot_in_tomorrows_world
Rapidly increasing activity in the robotics sphere has led the Financial Times to herald an investment boom time for one of the hottest new markets in tech. And, as robots break free of factory production lines, the US and China are poised to take the lead from Japan and Germany.
After growing at a compound rate of 17 per cent a year, the robot market will be worth $135bn by 2019, according to IDC, a tech research firm. The Asian markets, Japan and China, which is in the early stages of retooling its manufacturing sector, account for 69 per cent of all robot spending. But it’s US investment, which has more than doubled to $587m in 2015, according to CB Insights, that is the major factor in global growth.
Although the amount of cash flowing into the sector is still at a relatively early stage, all the lead indicators of the innovation economy are positive, says the FT: patent filings covering robotics technology have soared, with China alone accounted for 35 per cent in 2015, and venture capital investments more than doubled last year.
“From private equity investors looking to build portfolios of robot investments, to new “incubators” such as Playground, started by former Google robotics chief Andy Rubin, the investment options have been proliferating rapidly.”
“The most interesting things are in Silicon Valley or the US,” Dmitry Grishin, a Russian internet entrepreneur and investor told the FT.
Surging investment in artificial intelligence is giving the US an early advantage in the race to dominate a new era of robotics, say investors and experts. Recent advances, particularly in deep learning, have shifted robotics from its core industrial market into areas such as self-driving cars.
However, as low-cost robots move into more consumer and business uses, such as drones, China’s hardware manufacturing expertise will also make it a more significant player, they believe.
AI, big data and the cloud
The threat from new AI and cloud technologies has also incentivised established players such as Japan’s Fanuc, the world’s largest maker of industrial robots, to up their game. The company plans to start connecting 400,000 installed machines by the end of this year, to collect data about their operations and improve performance and is banking on their proliferation as a means of competing with the likes of Google, in the data sphere at least. Similalry, Germany’s Kuka is building a deep-learning AI network for industrial robots.
While US companies such as Google and Facebook have led  investment in deep learning, Silicon Valley has also seen a wider start-up boom in AI and robotics. A collapse in the price of components, thanks to smartphone growth, has made it cheaper to launch robot companies. But the new entrepreneurs rushing into the field are different from the hardware engineers who historically dominated the field, experts say, and are just as likely not to even use the word “robotics,” with a focus, instead on autonomy and AI.
Complementing this activity, astonishing advances in academia are giving fuel to future visions of what may become possible, with scientists creating living ‘insect-computer hybrid’ robots with user-adjustable speed and gait and exciting innovation in powering the technology, such as ‘ATTO cells’ that will be instrumental in creating intelligent swarms of robots. This nascent technology is expected to enable automation at ten times the speed of the upcoming 5G technology, supporting the deployment of highly-demanding wireless services in domains such as reconfigurable robot factories, intelligent hospitals and flexible offices. Ultimately, individual robots will be able to tap into the computing power of other robots in the swarm and/or local computing power in their immediate environment.
Simplistic machines
But that’s the future and there are plenty of technological and ethical hurdles for robotics to address first. Current goals are infintely more modest: to build single-purpose robots that do one thing very well. If successful, these machines will quickly become part of the fabric of everyday life, much like today’s automated vacuum cleaners or cash machines, say experts.
Another key design feature of many of the early robots is that they will need to operate alongside people, initially at least, making humans more productive rather than replacing them altogether. The limitations of current automation technologies mean that robot companies are thus currently focused on keeping “the human in the loop,” with most experts believing that people will have an important role to play in directing and providing a vital source of learning for the machines for decades to come.
Rapid learning is, in fact, vital for robotics manufacturers’ initial products, according to Grishin. The trick, he says, will be to find a task that relatively simplistic machines are able to handle, then use knowledge gained in the field to rapidly add to their capabilities and usefulness. “First put them in consumers’ hands, then learn from their behaviour.” Thus the machine becomes a minimal vessel for more and more sophisticated software.
It’s a proposition that investors are finding increasingly difficult to resist.

Funding launched to encourage entrepreneurs in engineering or technology

Royal Academy Engineering

The Royal Academy of Engineering invites applications for its launchpad competition. Funding aims to encourage young entrepreneurs to start a new business based on their innovation in engineering or technology, with engineering defined in its broadest sense. The competition aims to:

•improve the skills of the awardee:

•develop role models of entrepreneurship;

•bring engineering innovations to market for a wider public benefit.

Applications are open to individuals or small teams. The lead applicant must be UK-based and aged between 16 and 25. They should have a viable and commercial business proposition with a large market opportunity, and be planning to set up a business within the 18 months following the application deadline. The feasibility of the initial product or service must have been proven preferably with a basic prototype.

The winner receives the JG Gammon award, which includes a cash prize of £15,000 and a year’s membership of the enterprise hub. This provides mentoring, training and networking opportunities with UK entrepreneurs and investors. Up to two other individuals or teams may be chosen as runners up.

Click here for more information on support for entrepreneurs.

Click here for more information on the launchpad competition – now live !