Tagged / BU research

Research impact at BU: digital preservation of human fossil footprints; creating an interactive role for readers

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Discovering and preserving human fossil footprints at White Sands National Park, New Mexico

The dunes at White Sands National Park, New Mexico

Research areas: Environmental & Geographical Sciences, Data Science, Hominin Palaeoecology

Staff conducting research: Professor Matthew Bennett, Professor Marcin Budka, Dr Sally Reynolds

Background: Fossil footprints are an important, but neglected, part of the palaeontological and archaeological record. Professor Bennett, a recognised authority on human footprints, received funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to develop analytical approaches for the capture and analysis of human footprints, and then translate the work into the freeware DigTrace. DigTrace is an integrated software solution for the capture and analysis of 3D data of footprints, and can be applied to both fossil footprints and forensic practice. Along with similar  ‘Structure from Motion’ photogrammetry approaches, DigTrace has revolutionised vertebrate ichnology, providing data for advanced biomechanical analysis, enhanced visualisation, and the preservation of fragile fossil footprints.

Professor Bennett was approached by the US National Park Service (NPS) to help them identify human tracks at White Sands National Park in New Mexico and advise on conservation methods. They had already found the tracks of Ice Age animals such as giant ground sloth and mammoth but wanted to know more about potential human fossil footprints. In collaboration with David Bustos, the park’s resource manager, Professor Bennett quickly confirmed the presence of human footprints. Casts of the fossil tracks are now on display in Harvard University’s Peabody Museum and PLOS SciComm listed the findings as number one in its ‘Top 9 discoveries in human evolution’ in 2020.

The research is ongoing, including the discovery and analysis of the longest known human trackway so far reported, and the team has also pioneered the geo-prospection of human tracks using geophysical methods. The discovery of the footprints was featured in The Conversation, and covered extensively in the media, including: National Geographic, New York Times, Daily Telegraph, The Times, Atlantic, BBC Radio, New Scientist and many more.

The impact: 

Using DigTrace, and the research findings, Professor Bennett helped the NPS develop conservation management methods and approaches, enabling them to digitally conserve the eroding footprints. Using geophysics, the researchers developed methods for mapping hidden tracks for the NPS staff to use.

The intense media interest generated in the footprints, together with the description of how the humans involved would have been actively hunting giant ground sloth, was used by local politicians to launch draft legislation to re-designate White Sands as a Park and include the words ‘palaeontology’ and ‘archaeology’ in the founding legislation. The legislative process was slow but President Trump finally signed off on the name change and re-designation in December 2019. The NPS acknowledged the importance of Professor Bennett and his team’s track research in bringing about the re-designation and the Smithsonian National Museum confirmed the site’s significance within the Americas.

Independent research undertaken by a non-profit research group at the time suggested that the impact to the local economy of Alamogordo (Otero County) was likely to be worth $6m a year due to an enhanced number of visitors to the park.

Enabling the Genarrator Generation: creating a more active, participatory role for modern readers

The Genarrator website

Research area: Literature

Staff conducting research: Dr Jim Pope, Dr Simon Frost

Background: Too often, readers have seen themselves as mere passive recipients of the outputs from a professionalised corporate literature industry. This view is underpinned by an understanding of literature through the so-called author-centric conduit model, whereby the author transmits a narrative to a single reader who decodes the story.

BU researchers have explored theoretical and practical ways in which the reader is placed closer to the centre of literary practice, creating a collaborative model in which users and producers are co-creators of a narrative experience. Research findings suggested that readers create their texts’ values as an active expression of the desires they see being supported, obstructed or ignored. Because these values are made possible by the intertextuality of other publicly available works, where the meanings and values of works are shaped by one another, they are fundamentally collaborative. This theorisation, especially the social political ambition, was articulated in outputs by Frost and Pope.

BU’s research concluded that the collective interaction between all agencies, technologies and economies enable the reader-user to gain a personalised narrative experience, creating value in relation to the reader’s desires. Dr Pope spearheaded the creation of the web-based app Genarrator, a free space for digital interactive stories, in which readers participate more fully by choosing the direction and outcomes of a narrative. In addition, researchers also set up the open call New Media Writing Prize (NMWP), now in its 11th year. New media industries draw on BU research outputs in their own research and development opportunities, sponsoring collaboration with prizewinners and providing internships.

The impact:

The Genarrator website and app

The Genarrator website operates as a professional publishing platform and is home to more than 2,000 narratives. Available free of charge, and free of advertising, it enables people to produce interactive narratives, with branching pathways and multiple endings, and provides a collaborative online space for the interactive narrative community. It allows readers to connect with storytelling and, crucially, provides authors with new ways to reach their audiences and tell their stories. The NMWP, the first and only global prize of its kind, showcases the best in new media writing with innovative digital fiction, poetry and journalism which integrate a variety of formats, platforms and digital media. Both Genarrator and the NMWP have changed the way participants view their relationship with literature, enabling them to create their own interactive stories, and helping them find and use their voices in ways that were never possible before.

Empowering young people

In 2016, working with AIM Central (a charity sponsored by Children in Need/BCP Council), BU researchers undertook a co-creation workshop with AIM users, young people at risk, and those not in education, employment or training (NEET). Each participant self-designed and created an interactive narrative using Genarrator, which was subsequently published on the Genarrator community site. The workshops improved participants’ understanding of digital storytelling, their creative writing, filming, artistic and technical skills, and enhanced teamwork and cooperation. They also provided acknowledgement of their work, as it was displayed alongside professional outputs, and gave employers a place to see their art.

Between 2018 and 2019, BU researchers held a series of workshops with students aged 14-15 from ‘working class/non-working families’ at Bishop of Winchester Academy. BU students and the school’s sixth-formers mentored participants, and narratives included stories about bullying, racism in football and anxiety. The sense of achievement many students felt was translated into aspiration for higher education, illustrating that Genarrator had provided inspiration and links to university study for disenfranchised young people.

Improving careers of narrative practitioners

The NMWP has contributed to the development and promotion of new media writing over the past 10 years, engaging a range of practitioners including journalists and documentary makers as well as writers and artists. Following the British Library’s public event ‘Digital Conversations’ in 2019, which focused on celebrating the NMWP, national arts charity One-to-One Development Trust praised the impact of the prize, commenting on its “unique” and “cross-discipline” features and crediting it for attracting a broad range of entries and widening the field of new media.

Student nurses experience ‘DEALTS2’ dementia training

On 8th July a group of 33 first year undergraduate nursing students attended a dementia themed workshop, led by Dr Michelle Heward from the Ageing and Dementia Research Centre (ADRC), to gain insight into the lived experience of dementia. The day included an Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends session and simulation activities from the Dementia Education And Learning Through Simulation 2 (DEALTS2) programme, including the A Walk Through Dementia virtual reality app.

DEALTS2 uses an experiential learning approach to put trainees into the ‘shoes of a person with dementia’ to gain an insight into how the condition impacts on the person. In 2017, Health Education England commissioned the ADRC team to replace their original DEALTS programme with a new and improved version aligned to the learning outcomes of the national Dementia Training Standards Framework. Our research demonstrates that the training programme is being used nationally in acute care settings and has effectively increased trainer knowledge of dementia and confidence to utilise innovative training approaches (Heward et al., 2021). On the day it was great to see the students engaging positively with the innovative training approaches to gain a unique understanding of the lived experience of dementia.

The dementia day is part of a simulation programme being delivered by the Clinical Skills Nursing team at Bournemouth University. The simulation programme has been designed and created in response to a current shortage of nursing placements due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The placement has allowed the students access to varying specialist nurses and healthcare providers, from Nutrition Nurse specialists to Advanced Clinical Practitioner nurses working within the Air ambulance service, giving the students access that they may not have encountered within their practice.

Dorset Integrated Care System (ICS) Innovation Hub: Open call for priority support

Dorset Integrated Care System (ICS) Innovation Hub: Open call for priority support

Dorset ICS Innovation Hub

To help improve health and social care outcomes, equity and accessibility across Dorset, University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust is implementing a Dorset Innovation Hub. It will seek to address the unique challenges of caring for the population of Dorset, and the need to innovate and transform care.

The Hub will support adoption of proven innovations across the Dorset ICS. It will coordinate horizon scanning approaches and prioritise which innovations to bring to Dorset for rapid adaptation and adoption, at scale. A core project team of innovation multidisciplinary professionals will be assisted by a wider well-established network of subject matter experts.

Details of the Call

The Innovation Hub recognises that there is a plethora of improvement, transformation and innovative workstreams being undertaken and it has therefore been agreed that an open call would be made to partner organisations such as Bournemouth University so that each could made one request for priority support.

Priority Support Available

The Innovation Hub is seeking to support a range of local priorities across health and social care in the process towards implementation and adoption via the following ways:

  • Project management and oversight
  • Horizon scanning
  • Implementation
  • Training and education
  • Benefits realisation including evaluation
  • Finance, commission, and procurement advice
  • Quality and risk advice
  • Patient, public engagement advice

Therefore, if you have a health or social care related project that supports these local priorities and which would benefit from additional priority support to speed its implementation and adoption, you are strongly encouraged to submit your project for nomination.

 

 

Eligibility

Bournemouth University will nominate one project to go forward for priority support consideration by the Innovation Hub core project team.

Nomination assessment criteria

All projects submitted before the deadline will be evaluated using the following scoring criteria:

  • The project provides a solution to a problem in one of the following areas: Health inequalities/Population health management/Place based interventions/Workforce/Winter planning/Implementing clinical services review/Digital/COVID recovery
  • Novelty (Score 1-5): Projects should be novel and highly innovative in their support of local health or social care priorities.
  • Alignment with SIAs (Score 1-5): Projects that are nomination worthy will demonstrate alignment to the scope of one or more of the SIAs.
  • Interdisciplinarity (Score 1-5): Projects that are nomination worthy will demonstrate how they will secure interdisciplinary working that will achieve stronger outcomes than disciplines working in silos.
  • The potential for medium/long-term development and impact across Dorset (Score 1-5): Projects that are nomination worthy will demonstrate potential to secure societal impact with extensive reach and/or significance.

Application Process and Timescales

To apply, please complete and submit the application form to Lesley Hutchins (Research Commercialisation Manager) at innovate@bournemouth.ac.uk by 17:00 Friday 20 August 2021. Applications submitted after this time will not be considered.

Completed applications describing eligible projects will be reviewed by BU members of the Dorset Innovation Hub and the DDPPRs after the application deadline.

The nominated project will be informed and announced on the BU Research and Faculty blogsBU’s nomination will be submitted to the Dorset ICS Hub for consideration on or before Tuesday 31 August 2021. 

The Dorset Innovation Hub core project team will then approve which projects will be taken forward in their Tuesday 28 September 2021 meeting. If selected by the Innovation Hub, the BU nominated project’s Principal Investigators will be notified shortly thereafter.

Important: The Dorset ICS Open call for priority support may be promoted elsewhere. Please do not submit your application to any of these other portals as it will not be eligible for nomination. BU applications should only be submitted to innovate@bournemouth.ac.uk

Find out more

If you have any questions, please email Lesley Hutchins (Research Commercialisation Manager) at innovate@bournemouth.ac.uk

BU conference presentation on migration and COVID-19 in Nepal

Yesterday Dr. Pramod Regmi, Dr. Shovita Dhakal Adhikari, Dr. Nirmal Aryal and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen, all based in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences, presented at the tenth Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal & the Himalaya.  Their paper ‘Moral panic and othering practices during Nepal’s COVID-19 Pandemic (A study with returnee migrants and Muslims in Nepal)’ was co-authored by Dr. Sharada Prasad Wasti from the University of Huddersfield and Shreeman Sharma (Department of  Conflict, Peace & Development
Studies, Tribhuvan University, Nepal).  The presentation was partly based on research funded by the British Academy.

 

Funding Development Briefings – back in September

The RDS Funding Development Briefings have occurred weekly, on a Wednesday at 12 noon since January 2021.

Thank you to those of you who have joined us to discuss the latest funding opportunities, ask questions, and share your research ideas. We will be taking a break over August, with the briefings returning in September.

Over August, we will still update the Major Opportunities pipeline on a weekly basis so you have access to the latest funding opportunities. The pipeline is available on the I Drive here: I:\RDS\Public\Funding Pipeline. The Research Facilitators will still be available over the summer to discuss your research bidding plans, so please do get in touch when required.

Details of the Funding Development Briefings for 2021/22 will be available shortly. Please email RKEDF@bournemouth.ac.uk to receive the Teams invite for these sessions.

We hope you have a restful summer, and look forward to seeing you in September!

Pilot studies paper reaches 90,000 reads

Today ResearchGate informed Prof. Vanora Hundley and I that our paper in the Nursing Standard of 2002 had reached 90,000 reads.  This short methods paper called ‘The Importance of Pilot Studies’ [1] was one of our earlier attempts, nearly two decades ago, to publish more of our work in practitioners journals.  This approach has been highly successful in terms of reaching a wider audience.  We have written longer, more sophisticated research methods papers on pilot studies over the years, including in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, Social Research Update, and the SAGE encyclopedia on research methods [2-6], but none of these has been read or cited as often as our short paper in the Nursing Standard. 

The term ‘pilot studies’ refers to mini versions of a full-scale study (also called ‘feasibility’ studies), as well as the specific pre-testing of a particular research instrument such as a questionnaire or interview schedule. Pilot studies are a crucial element of good study design. Conducting a pilot study does not guarantee success in the main study, but it does increase the likelihood of success. Pilot studies fulfill a range of important functions and can provide valuable insights for other researchers. There is a need for more discussion among researchers of both the process and outcomes of pilot studies.

 

References:

  1. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2002) ‘The importance of pilot studies’ Nursing Standard 16(40): 33-36. Web: nursing-standard.co.uk/archives/vol16-40/pdfs/vol16w40p3336.pdf
  2. van Teijlingen E, Rennie, AM., Hundley, V, Graham, W. (2001) The importance of conducting & reporting pilot studies: example of Scottish Births Survey, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 34: 289-95.
  3. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2001) The importance of pilot studies, Social Research Update Issue 35, (Editor N. Gilbert), Guildford: University of Surrey. Web:  http://www.soc.surrey.ac.uk/sru/SRU35.html
  4. Hundley, V., van Teijlingen E. (2002) The role of pilot studies in midwifery research RCM Midwives Journal 5(11): 372-74
  5. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2005) Pilot studies in family planning & reproductive health care, Journal of Family Planning & Reproductive Health Care 31(3): 219-21.
  6. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2003) Pilot study, In: Encyclopaedia of Social Science Research Methods, Vol. 2, Lewis-Beck, M., Bryman, A. & Liao, T. (eds.), Oregon, Sage: 823-24.

New FHSS nutrition publication

Congratulations to Faculty of Health & Social Sciences’ PhD student Karim Khaled and supervisors Prof. Vanora Hundley and Dr. Fotini Tsofliou on the acceptance of your manuscript ‘Perceived Stress was associated with Poorer Diet Quality among Women of Reproductive Age in the UK’.  This paper will appear in the international journal Nutrients.
All three are associated with our research unit CMMPH (Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health). This paper is supported by BU’s Open Access Fund will be freely available online soon.

Well done!

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

CMMPH

New joint publication with  Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust

 

This morning International Journal of Mental Health Nursing informed us that our article  ‘Cultural issues on accessing mental health services in Nepali and Iranian migrants communities in the UK‘ has been published today.   This paper is written by an interdisciplinary team including Hannah Blunt who works at Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust, Dr. Bibha Simkhada who is Senior Lecturer in Nursing at the University of Huddersfield and Dr. Mariam Vahdaninia who works in the Peninsula Medical School at the University of Plymouth.  Both Mariam and Bibha worked with me at Bournemouth University at the time of the study.

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

CMMPH (Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health)

Research impact at BU: protecting sex workers in Brazil; defining standards for crowdsourced systems

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Improving the lives of sex workers in Brazil

Research area/s: Physical culture, mediated spectacles

Staff conducting research: Professor Michael Silk, Dr Amanda De Lisio

Background: Media speculation often points to heightened demand for sexual services around sporting mega events (SMEs), such as the Olympics. These reports tend to be used to justify policing and rationalise displacing sex work from the public spaces. Professor Silk had argued that SMEs are highly mediated commodity spectacles, during which governments seek to erase and/or hide from view those who are antithetical to market ‘logics’. However, there was a dearth of relevant data on the sexual landscapes associated with the Olympics or on the impact of large-scale sporting events on vulnerable populations of sex workers.

With funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Professor Silk and academic collaborators from Rio de Janeiro, Toronto and Kings College London undertook the first ever funded academic study that looked at the impact of the Olympics on sex workers. The project was centred on Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics and carried out with two Rio-based partners: the Observatorio Da Prostituicao (ODP), who had been collecting data on sex work in Rio for more than 10 years, and Davida, an NGO that supports sex workers in Brazil. Ethnographic data was collected from more than 100 sex workers, while interviews took place with key stakeholders such as clients, sex workers, venue managers, security personnel, police and local support groups. Observational data was collected from sex-related businesses and – in conjunction with the sex workers – field diaries and audio-visual data were recorded during and after the 2016 Olympics.

The project found that, within the Brazilian context:

  • Public discourse was once again focused on anti-trafficking strategies, which conflated forced migration and sexual exploitation with adult, consensual sex work.
  • Sex workers were forcibly evicted and displaced, with women unable to access justice without first asserting themselves as victims of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking – although they refused to lie about their consensual involvement in adult sex work.
  • Labour rights were denied, due to the conflation of sex work with sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.
  • The expected boom in ‘sex tourism’ did not materialise.
  • There was a heightened security presence in the street.

The final report made several key recommendations, including:

  • Stopping the conflation of prostitution with trafficking and sexual exploitation in law, public policies and popular discourse.
  • Creating opportunities for sex workers to add to the SME narrative.
  • Developing strategies to recognise and act against state-sanctioned violence faced by sexual minorities, and to guarantee social and spatial justice for those marginalised in the development process.

The impact:

Displacing sex workers during SMEs can have wide-reaching consequences for their safety, particularly in Brazil, where sex work is a legal profession.  By providing an evidence base on the spatial regulation of informal sex economies during SMEs, this project elevated the voice of sex workers in Brazil and shaped policy.

Changing policy

The research informed a submission by Davida to the United Nations Human Rights Council in October 2016, which documented human rights violations against sex workers in Brazil during the staging of SMEs. The report highlighted the eviction of approximately 200 women from a sex venue in 2014, with one evicted woman providing data on the eviction, denial of access to justice and the need for empirical evidence in the creation and execution of policies and strategies surrounding sex work. As a result of the report, she was invited to attend the EU Human Rights Defenders First Annual Meeting in November 2016. Subsequently, the UN referenced the Davida report in its Universal Periodic Review (Brazil) of February 2017 and adopted the following recommendations for the Brazilian government:

  • Improving the under-reporting of sexual violence/harrassment and developing policies to punish and prevent such actions.
  • Protecting human rights defenders and their families by implementing a national programme, policy and/or plan.
  • Combating police violence against women through training.

In September 2017, the Brazilian government enacted these recommendations into federal law, committing themselves to including human rights education in schools, creating domestic violence centres across the country, running an awareness campaign and setting up a hotline to report cases of violence against women.

Improving the lives and working conditions of sex workers

The project enabled Davida to reach a generation of women involved in sex work and the organisation has used the data to influence discourse around child labour exploitation, enhance ties with the Brazilian government’s anti-trafficking committee and ensure less conflation of sex work with sexual exploitation/trafficking at government level.

The ESRC team collaborated with local partners to develop a sex worker-author exhibition, documenting everyday work and life during the Olympics.  Participants curated their own pages for the online exhibition: “It was such an innovative, motivating process… I feel full of hopes and expectations… I feel like I achieved something”. As a result of the project, two of the trans sex worker photographers have developed careers in the arts.

Altering perceptions of sex work in the context of SMEs

The ‘What You Don’t See’ virtual exhibition was curated into a physical exhibition, shown in London, New York and Bournemouth.  The exhibition was converted into a film narrated by sex workers (and project participants), which offered accounts of the banality of everyday life, oppression and prejudice, bringing to life the project findings and challenging sensationalist media accounts of sex work during SMEs.  The film debuted at the MoMA PS1 Sex Workers’ Festival of Resistance in New York City, attended by 1,000 people, all of whom received a newsletter summarising the ESRC project. Davida stated that the project “broadened cultural and political sensibilities, which might have never expected to see the work of Brazilian women involved in sexual commerce celebrated in art galleries”. Davida is currently incorporating the data into a project that is digitising sex work histories in Brazil for the State Archives of Rio de Janeiro.

Creating internationally recognised standards for crowdsourced systems

Research areas: Computing & Informatics, Software Engineering, Cyber Psychology

Staff conducting research: Dr Marios Angelopoulos, Professor Raian Ali, Professor Keith Phalp, Dr Jacqui Taylor

Background: Crowdsourcing can be defined as the practice of soliciting input from the general public. Crowdsourced systems incorporate devices provided by the public to opportunistically supplement their infrastructure. In crowdsourced systems, members of the general public permit the system to access and use the resources of their devices in return for an incentive; this can either be intrinsic (e.g. for social good) or extrinsic (e.g. receiving a service, a micropayment, etc).

However, the highly personal nature of devices like smartphones poses significant trust and privacy issues. Since crowdsourced systems are characterised by the network effect (their efficacy increases as the number of their users increases), such issues can hinder their adoption and development. In addition, the community has lacked a common understanding of which systems can be classified as crowdsourced systems and how such systems can be built following a trustworthy and transparent method.

BU researchers conducted a systematic survey of crowdsourcing research to extract and describe the taxonomy of features which characterise crowdsourcing. They analysed 652 papers, identifying 113 papers (72 academic and 41 from industry) as providing definitions on crowdsourcing. The paper detailed the methodology that was assumed in order to elicit the key features of the concept of crowdsourcing and the corresponding definition, which was adopted in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU-T) standard. The model identified the four fundamental constituents of crowdsourcing: the crowd, the crowdsourcer, the crowdsourced task, and the crowdsourcing platform, and formed the basis for the reference architecture for crowdsourced systems specified in the ITU-T standard.

BU and European collaborators also assessed how crowdsourcing methods and tools can be used in designing systems (particularly in requirements engineering) and how these can be applied in industrial contexts. Dr Angelopoulos’ research underpinned the discussions within the ITU-T study group about implementation aspects of crowdsourced systems and corresponding use cases, and eventually helped shape the final text of the standard. These included architectural approaches for crowdsourced systems in a variety of applications, such as localised distributed computer infrastructure, crowd-enabled IoT systems and crowdsourced systems as enablers for citizen science.

The impact:

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is the United Nations’ special agency for information and communication technologies, with global membership including 193 member states, as well as some 900 companies, universities, international and regional organisations, and 20,000 industry professionals. Its recommendations act as an international standard and common point of reference globally to enable members to develop policies at a local or national level.

The ITU accepted the definitions and reference architecture developed through BU research as the formal definitions for crowdsourced systems. Angelopoulos led the BU delegation for the recommendation throughout its lifetime, as part of ITU-T Study Group 20 (SG20), which develops recommendations in the field of Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities and communities. The terms defined were accepted by the Standardisation Committee for the Vocabulary and form part of official ITU terminology, which acts as a reference point for the international community. The recommendation was formally ratified by the ITU in February 2019 during the SG20 meeting held in China

Defining processes and attributes, and producing a standardised framework for the ways in which such systems are developed, helps to increase their transparency and provides a guarantee with regards to privacy and cybersecurity issues. This, in turn, helps increase public trust towards crowdsourced systems and, consequently, promotes their use. By helping to provide this formal, standardised framework – accepted by the global community through the ITU – BU has delivered a foundation of common understanding that will facilitate the growth and further adoption of crowdsourced systems and reference architecture, as well as identifying and addressing relevant security, privacy and trust issues.

 

TomorrowPorts conference for smart port innovators

SPEED, a European Interreg project, with Bournemouth University as one of its partners, is holding a conference in September aimed at those interested in new technologies (such as smart port applications), business models and ecosystems that can lead to smarter ports.

The TomorrowPorts conference takes place in Antwerp, Belgium from 23-24 September. During the event participants will learn from use cases from smart port pioneers, get inspired by state-of-the-art smart port technologies, find tech talent to fuel the digital transformation, and get in touch with the latest thinking and frameworks. More information and tickets for TomorrowPorts are available here.

SPEED – the Smart Ports Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development – aims to build an ecosystem for smart port app development in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and the UK, bridging the gap between the worlds of European ports and the nascent data science – IoT market.

The conference also provides the opportunity to nominate port solutions for an award to show that collaboration within port ecosystems is key to creating the Smart Ports of Tomorrow. The winner and two runners up are entitled to a money prize, exposure, networking opportunities, free co-working space, and access to the virtual development lab and specific toolkits. The award ceremony will be held at the TomorrowPorts Conference in Antwerp, on Friday September 24. Find out more about the award and on how to register your case here.

 

 

 

 

Research impact at BU: creating a novel medical device; assessing Brexit’s effect on UK food prices

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Creating a global market for a novel medical device: how BU
research helped make it happen

Research areas: Orthopaedics, Exercise Physiology

Staff conducting research: Professor Robert Middleton, Associate Professor Tom Wainwright, Louise Burgess, Shayan Bahadori, Dr James Gavin, Tikki Immins

The geko™ neuromuscular electrical stimulator

Background: The geko™ and the technology behind it is the only product of Firstkind Ltd: a battery-powered, disposable, neuromuscular electro-stimulation device designed to increase blood flow in the veins of the legs. Firstkind Ltd approached Professors Middleton and Wainwright to design and conduct the first ever study of the device in patients following hip replacement surgery. The randomised control trial (RCT) compared the geko™ with compression stockings in order to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and oedema post-surgery. Results showed that not only was the device safe, tolerable for patients, and effective in preventing DVT, but that it significantly reduced oedema.

Before the trial, the device settings had been informed by research on healthy subjects in a seated position; Middleton and Wainwright’s research discovered that the device settings did not always work optimally for patients with oedema or neuropathy, or for patients in bed whose knee was extended. Further research confirmed this and highlighted the opportunity to optimise the device further.

BU’s research built on data from a study carried out by Firstkind, which looked at patients who had not responded well to the geko™ T1 device. BU’s TEDs2 study replicated the methodology from the earlier study, with additional blood flow measurements, and used the next generation of geko™ devices. This showed that the updated devices increased blood flow, were effective in preventing DVT, and significantly reduced oedema.

Middleton and Wainwright also conducted a pilot RCT on patients with ankle sprains, which showed that the device reduced swelling. It was the first clinical trial undertaken at home, with patients applying it themselves and wearing it for at least eight hours a day for seven days, and patients showed no adverse effects.

The impact:

Benefits for patients

Before BU’s involvement, the device was designed for use in athletes and healthy individuals to aid their recovery from sport, or to prevent DVTs while flying. Wainwright and Middleton’s research led to the device being used to help patients in a wide variety of clinical settings: e.g 28 NHS Trusts are working to adopt the device for acute stroke patients at high risk of blood clots, and more than 4,700 devices have been ordered by the NHS to prevent DVTs as a potential side effect of Covid-19.

In addition, a study of post-stroke patients showed that 2.4% of those treated with Intermittent Pneumatic Compression (IPC) alone suffered from DVT within 90 days, compared with 0% of those prescribed the geko™. Patients had no adverse events and reported a greater tolerance of the geko™ than IPC.

In Canada, the device has been rolled out for chronic wound patients, leading to some experiencing complete healing, where other treatments were unsuccessful.

Approvals in the UK and USA

  • BU’s research demonstrating the effectiveness of the geko™ device led to Firstkind Ltd receiving approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to use it for venous thrombosis and oedema.
  • The device has also been approved for use by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). In its guidance, NICE estimated the cost-saving per patient using the device to be £197 (compared with those receiving no treatment) representing a significant saving to the NHS.

Firstkind Ltd acknowledged that BU’s research was pivotal in achieving both FDA and NICE approvals.

Benefits for Firstkind Ltd

The NHS and FDA approvals have expanded potential markets for the device on every continent. Firstkind Ltd. references BU’s research extensively in its brochures, demonstrating its importance in its day-to-day marketing, driving sales and commercial expansion into new markets. More than 700,000 individual units have been sold to date in at least 14 countries, and, in 2020, Firstkind Ltd. won the International Life Sciences award for the Most Innovative MedTech Company.

Delivering analytical capacity and advice to inform government of the effects of Brexit and future trade arrangements on UK food prices

Research area: Economics

Staff conducting research: Professor Tim Lloyd

Background: In 2017, Professor Lloyd was commissioned, with Exeter University colleagues, to undertake a confidential UK food pricing project for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to assess the impact of Brexit on food prices in Britain. The econometric models at the core of the project drew on expertise developed by Professor Lloyd over two decades of collaboration with Exeter’s Professor Steve McCorriston. They found that domestic food price inflation is significantly affected by world food commodity prices, the exchange rate and oil prices, rather than domestic demand pressures and food chain costs, and that food inflation in the EU may be influenced by differences in the food sector across the Union, particularly barriers to competition. The quality and impact of the research led to Professor Lloyd being called as an expert witness as part of a House of Lords EU Committee enquiry into food price spikes.

Underlying the econometric modelling of food inflation is price transmission – the mechanism describing how price changes move through a supply chain.  Much of Professor Lloyd’s research career has been devoted to understanding the theory, methods and data that economists rely on to analyse the price transmission mechanism. In his 2016 Presidential Address to the Agricultural Economics Society, he set out this literature and his contribution to it, including the econometric methodology he helped pioneer to quantify the speed, magnitude and asymmetry of price transmission in agricultural and food markets, much of which emphasised the importance of imperfect competition (e.g. dominant retailers) in modern food chains. Professor Lloyd’s food industry expertise led to his appointment to Defra’s panel of expert advisors in 2012 and reappointment in 2018 as Brexit withdrawal negotiations intensified.

Food prices and Brexit

After the 2016 referendum, Defra commissioned the confidential development of a new food inflation model to assess the dynamic impact of the potential trade scenarios arising from Brexit. This included the impact of food prices on consumers at different levels of income, i.e. disadvantaged groups, and a detailed examination of trade in processed food and agricultural commodities.

For the first time, the project provided data that was able to provide a more accurate representation of the types and sources of UK food imports. Using these new data, Professor Lloyd led the development of econometric models that quantified the impact of agricultural and food import prices on the price of food in the UK high street, as well as other factors such as domestic agricultural product prices, manufacturing costs and most importantly, exchange rates. The work demonstrated that the geography and type of food imported into Britain impacted retail food inflation markedly, implying that the changes in trade and trade policy arising from Brexit could impact food prices significantly

The impact:

Informing Brexit negotiations: a new scenario modelling tool

The researchers used results from their econometric modelling to develop the bespoke software interface STEFI (Scenario Tool Exeter Food Inflation). With a simple, user-friendly interface, STEFI enabled non-specialists in Defra to calculate the dynamic effects of various trade scenarios. The user manual featured a step-by-step guide to inputting alternative policy scenarios and interpreting the results, filling an important analytical gap in government at the time.

Four innovative features allowed Defra to assess the food price impacts of Brexit in ways that were previously impossible, by incorporating: (i) the origin of trade; (ii) trade in both raw agricultural materials and processed food products (iii) macroeconomic factors that determine retail food prices including effective exchange rates and unemployment and (iv) manufacturing costs in the food chain.

STEFI has been used since 2019 as part of the government’s assessment of Brexit – most notably in October 2019 when a ‘no deal’ exit became a realistic prospect, and again in January 2020, to simulate the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan. The potential impact of both these scenarios on food prices helped inform the government’s position in trade negotiations. The outputs from the Brexit pricing project continue to be used by Defra in trade negotiations and policy making.

Minimising the impact on low-income consumers

Defra asked for an econometric analysis to be undertaken to assess the effect of rising food prices on consumers across the income distribution. Numerical results quantified the effects, particularly for low-income consumers, who stand to lose the most from Brexit-related price shocks. These concerns were heightened by the potentially acute impact of Covid-19 on the availability and price of food. Amid concerns over panic buying in the early stages of the pandemic, Defra repurposed STEFI to provide objective evidence to support and inform the government’s response.

Enhancing Defra’s capacity: cutting-edge research

Defra acknowledged the impact of the research by Professors Lloyd and McCorriston, stating it was ‘impossible to overemphasise the enormous contribution’ their development of STEFI had made to its capacity, and that it was ‘unparalleled in understanding food prices’. The tool remains in regular use and Defra stated it will be used to analyse other domestic and global issues in the future, such as future bilateral trade negotiations and the coronavirus pandemic.