Academic Spotlight: Dr Issy Bray

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In this Academic Spotlight we asked Dr Issy Bray, Associate Professor in Public Health (Epidemiology) at UWE Bristol.

Tell us about your background and how you became interested in your research area?

My background is originally in statistics. A final year module in medical statistics was a light-bulb experience for me – I’d found what I wanted to do – so I went on to do a masters in medical statistics. That was nearly 30 years ago, and since then my work has become gradually more applied and I have moved into Public Health. One of the things that motivated me to do this was the first time I heard Sir Michael Marmot speak about social capital and inequalities. Although my early research was in cancer epidemiology, much of my work since then has focused on mental health and wellbeing. My interest in studying both cancer and mental health problems stems from the fact that they are common, they can affect anyone, and the risk factors are complex and difficult to untangle – in that sense they both represent a huge challenge to the science of epidemiology. Research into mental health is fascinating on so many levels, and I have had the opportunity to be involved in studies analysing risk factors for suicide and self-harm through to general wellbeing at the population level. One of the other things I find really interesting about mental health is the bi-directional relationship with physical health. Most recently my work has centred around the benefits of exposure to green and natural environments in terms of our mental health, particularly for young people and those living in urban environments. These issues were brought to the fore by the Covid pandemic and are not going away.

Tell us more about your research and research projects, are there any particular projects you want to highlight?

My research sits within the Centre for Public Health and Wellbeing, an inter-disciplinary research centre, but I also collaborate with other research centres at UWE. I have worked closely with psychology colleagues in the Centre for Appearance Research to study the relationships between body dissatisfaction, disordered eating, mental health outcomes (depression and anxiety) and other health-related behaviours (e.g. drinking and smoking) amongst adolescents. For me, the most important outcome of this collaboration was the realisation that health psychology and public health send out very different messages to the public about body size, which is counter-productive, and we worked together to call for a more unified approach to the dual problems of overweight/obesity and body dissatisfaction.

In 2020 I led a multi-disciplinary team to review the evidence on the potential benefits of exposure to green and natural environments in reducing anxiety and depression amongst young people living in urban areas. This was both challenging and exciting. Challenging because the topic is vast, time was limited, and as a multi-disciplinary team we all had different viewpoints. Exciting because the funder (The Wellcome Trust) clearly wanted something other than a standard systematic review of the literature, so we had free rein to take an unconventional approach. We combined evidence from many different disciplines and study designs but focused specifically on young people (as opposed to children or adults) to generate a conceptual model explaining the pathways linking exposure to green and natural environments with mental health outcomes for this age group.

Early analyses of Covid data highlighted important risk factors (e.g. age, ethnicity, co-morbidities, occupation) but considered each factor in isolation. So it was not possible to separate out the effects of deprivation and ethnicity, for example. This was a big problem, but it took some time for the data to become available for this level of analysis. In the mean time, Public Health England (as was) published rates of Covid mortality by Local Authority. This would allow a multivariate analysis of risk factors at a Local Authority level, so I set to work gathering data on age, ethnicity, pollution levels, over-crowding, obesity and deprivation for each Local Authority. This analysis, published in 2021 with Public Health colleagues, was the first evidence that was able to take deprivation and age into account when estimating the effects of pollution, or ethnicity, on Covid mortality rates.

Finally I am working closely with a PhD student and other colleagues using experiments to determine whether viewing green, blue and historic environments (on a flat screen television monitor or using virtual reality) can benefit mental health, which we are assessing through self-reported questionnaires and physiological measures in the psychology lab. A similar experiment with colleagues in ecology has examined different soundscapes (traffic versus birdsong) to estimate the effects of different levels of biodiversity on our mental wellbeing. The aim is not to replace real-life exposure with virtual reality, but to use it as a tool for researching the benefits of different environments on human health, and to bring those benefits to people who are not able to access them.

To connect with Dr Issy Bray, contact her through her LinkedIn profile.

UWE Bristol celebrating world Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Day 2022 

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UWE Bristol are proud to work with many Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) across the region. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for up to 90% of businesses, 60% to 70% of employment, and they account for half of global GDP, according to the United Nations.  

To celebrate World MSME Day 2022 we are sharing some recent work and projects with MSMEs.  

In this short video, we highlight three SMEs we worked with as part of our Scale Up 4 Growth Scheme. In partnership with NatWest and Foot Anstey, we gave SMEs access to grant funding and business support to help them scale up. In the below video we hear from The Bristol Loaf, Wiper and True and 299 Lighting about how the funding has helped transform their business.  

Spotlight on Bristol 24/7  

Bristol 24/7 are one of many MSMEs we are supporting through our Skills for Clean Growth programme and our Digital Skills programme.  Below is some feedback from Meg Houghton-Gilmour, Community and Memberships Manager.

Tell us a bit about what you are doing as an organisation to support sustainability goals in the region? 

At Bristol24/7 we’re really proud to be in the process of recruiting a dedicated climate and sustainability editor. We are the first local media organisation to do so as far as we know, and we’ve created this role to engage conversation, inspire people to take action, hold authorities and companies to account and report on the positive work already ongoing in Bristol.  

This is alongside our work to become more sustainable as an organisation. We are currently working with Action Net Zero to assess our carbon footprint, from which we will set goals to minimise our impact on the planet.  

We believe that working together is the best way to tackle the climate crisis. One of the defining values of our Better Business network is sustainability and we share ideas, opportunities and resources with our business members at our quarterly meetings.  

What steps have you taken to ensure you have a diverse workforce to drive forward these aims? 

Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of all of Bristol24/7s plans. We recognise there are considerable barriers to working in journalism and we are aiming to level the playing field at every opportunity. We are continuously improving our recruitment process to make it welcoming and accessible to all those who are interested in working with us. We have redesigned our work experience programme and we are working to introduce a career ladder so that those who have their first taste of journalism with us are invited back for longer placements and interviews for entry level positions.  

We work with the most underrepresented areas of Bristol to train new journalists in our community reporters programme. Our entire team take part in setting our goals and strategy for the year ahead and every voice is heard; we believe this allows for more robust decision making and creativity which are essential when tackling problems such as the climate crisis.  

What support have you received from UWE Bristol, and how has it contributed to these aims? 

We’re extremely grateful to UWE Bristol for their support. Over the last 12 months, our team have benefitted from Digital Skills support and training which has informed our membership strategy. We now also have a stronger marketing strategy which helps us capitalise on the support from our community and grow our membership – the result of which is that we can offer more work experience placements, train more community reporters and work with charity partners. 

More recently, members of our team have also taken part in the Skills for Clean Growth workshops. We already feel more confident in addressing our own carbon output, and we look forward to attending more workshops as we set our new goals, induct our climate editor and take the next steps on our sustainability journey.  

What successes have you seen as a result of the above work? 

In the last year we have seen a 30% growth in our membership, which has provided us with the resource to grow our team, including interns from UWE Bristol, and increase our social impact work. 

Workshops for MSMEs 

Are you a Gloucestershire business looking to scale?​ 

Digital Scale-Up for your Business

Hosted in the Advanced Digital Academy at Gloucestershire College in Cheltenham on Monday 11 & Tuesday 12 July 2022.  

Find out more and register

Growth through Innovation workshop 

5 & 6 July 2022, 09:00 – 16:30 

Business Cyber Centre, Chippenham 

A practical workshop to support your business in creating, communicating and funding innovation, free to SMEs in the Swindon & Wiltshire area. 

Find out more and register

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships  

The Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) scheme is a UK-wide programme helping businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity. We embed a recent graduate within your business and give you access to our academic expertise to help you transform your business.  

View some of our KTP case studies

Green Skills for Jobs and Entrepreneurship  

We recently supported more than 70 young people to complete the first stage of a transformational ‘first of its kind’ green skills training programme. 

The programme aimed to provide access to green jobs, training and business opportunities to Black, Asian and minoritised young people (aged 18-28), and recent graduates living in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset. 

Get in touch  

We are always keen to work with MSMEs so please do get in touch to discuss how we can support you and your business uwebusiness@ac.uk  

Academic Spotlight: Dr Emmanuel Adukwu

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In this Academic Spotlight we asked Dr Emmanuel Adukwu, Deputy Head of Department for Applied Sciences, a few questions about the research he is involved with at UWE Bristol.

Tell us about your background and how you became interested in your research area?

I graduated with a degree in Biomedical Sciences at Coventry University. During my final year, I chose a project which started my interest in the role nature plays in modulating and promoting health. This subsequently led to my postgraduate study at Manchester Metropolitan University working with Professor Valerie Edwards-Jones (emeritus) where I carried out an industry-funded masters by research (MRes) investigating the role of essential oils as antimicrobial agents and a research assistantship project working on a human volunteer trial to develop a novel topical antimicrobial agent.

After my MRes, I moved into industry working with ICON Plc, the world’s leader in clinical research. I worked as a clinical trials coordinator, setting up and running several high-profile large-scale studies for the major global biopharma organisations. I decided to pursue a PhD at the University of Northampton funded by Northamptonshire NHS Trust working with Professor Carol Phillips. My PhD project was informed by the experiences I had during my BSc (final year project) and MRes degrees considering I had several offers and needed to make a firm decision.. My project investigated community acquired infections which was a significant health conundrum at the time and continues to contribute to the infection burden in health settings globally.

Tell us more about your research and research projects, are there any particular projects you want to highlight?

My research explores the role that natural compounds can play in preventing or controlling infections caused by pathogenic bacteria and fungi. In my group, we have carried out investigations into the potential of plant-based compounds in reducing significant healthcare pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus (associated with many infections in humans), Acinetobacter baumannii which is considered by the CDC as a serious public health threat as it is known to be resistant to multiple antibiotics and is an organism linked with major amputations.

Recently we have focused a lot of work on a newly discovered fungus called Candida auris. This is a particularly interesting organism as it is also known to be resistant to current antifungal treatments, spreads easily in hospital settings and can cause serious infections. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 patients who are affected with invasive Candida auris infection die. We have shown that using plant-based compounds, we can limit the growth and spread of this emerging threat and hope to develop innovative strategies that can be utilised in healthcare settings.

Some ongoing projects worth mentioning include two PhD research projects with my students Obiageli Okolie and Uzoma Igwe who are carrying out research focused on preventing the spread of antimicrobial resistance, preventing and controlling infections at national level with a focus on the healthcare system in Nigeria. These two projects have involved leading KOLs and health experts across the country and would go a long way in informing policy.

If you are a fan of or connoisseur of teas, keep an eye out on our recently commenced project funded via the partnership PhD scheme between Pukka Herbs and UWE bristol where we aim to explore some of the benefits of some herbal tea blends on human health and wellbeing.

Give us a brief description of how your academic expertise could be practically applied for a business partner or for external collaboration?

In terms of research, my work would interest organisations and potential collaborators interested in developing antimicrobials products or therapies (antibacterial, antifungals, disinfectants etc) to reduce infections in humans and animals. We have previously carried out work investigating survival of clinical pathogens on medical devices in particular swab transport systems. The knowledge and expertise developed this these projects can be of benefit to companies interested in developing special media for these important transport systems for healthcare and other relevant settings e.g. food, animal etc.

In addition, I have extensive expertise developing initiatives and solutions to address/embed inclusivity within teams and organisations. With many forward-looking organisations, inclusivity and diversity is key to growth and I am happy to collaborate or engage with organisations looking at meaningful organisational change in this area.

You can get in touch with Dr Emmanuel Adukwu through his LinkedIn profile

Inhale the Future, Exhale the Past: The Evolution of UK Air Pollution

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Written by Linda Pengelly (MSc Student for Environmental Management)

In the early to mid-1900s, the hangover from Britain’s Industrial Revolution of the previous two centuries (when emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) were at their peak) was still raging (Ritchie, 2017a). Between 1900-1920, Bronchitis attributed to atmospheric coal smoke was the second-leading cause of death in England and Wales (Widdicombe, 2020). Cold winters and gung-ho coal combustion combined to form the deadly spectre that is ‘Smog’ (a portmanteau of smoke and fog) and earned London the dubious nickname of the ‘Big Smoke’, even inspiring Monet to paint the city between 1899-1903 (Fuller, 2019).
With everything happening in the world right now (the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis, the looming threat of war…) it’s easy to overlook the (invisible) elephant in the room: air pollution. No-one wants to think about the ultrafine particles (PM2.5 to use the technical term) having a party in their lungs when they’re walking down the street or curling up in front of the fire. But should we be concerned? Well, yes, actually. The biggest contributors to air pollution may have changed over the years, but the bottom line is this: respiratory diseases have consistently remained one of the top 5 causes of death in the UK in our lifetime (ONS, 2017; Ritchie and Roser, 2019).

The Houses of Parliament (Effect of Fog) by C Monet (Monet, 1903-4)

A series of London Smog incidents followed, most notably the ‘Great Smog’ between 5-9th December 1952, which Bell and Davis (2001) estimate led to the deaths of 12,000 people. The younger generations of the Great British public were given a lesson in history when Queen Elizabeth II was portrayed stubbornly navigating the Great Smog on foot to visit her grandmother in an episode of The Crown (2016), but it begs the question: are we destined to repeat it?

Not necessarily. Granted, today’s developing cities appear to be following in the UK’s footsteps by way of initial ‘dirty’ industrialisation, as shown in Delhi:

Source: Ritchie (2017b)

There is hope, however. To avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, Ritchie (2017a) maintains that as India and other developing countries increase their GDP per capita, they must aim to keep air pollution below London’s 19th century levels by developing in a ‘cleaner way’ than we did; i.e., by adopting renewable energy early. The Clean Air Act of 1956 partly tackled the issue of air pollution in the UK through the introduction of smoke control areas, but as Fuller (2019) argues, the most effective change came from the adoption of alternative fuels and heating systems.

An ‘An awareness that the burden from energy consumption on the wider society has been very high in the past and can get much worse may help concentrate minds a little more towards finding solutions, and not simply accepting that climate change is the price to pay for economic growth and development’

(Fouquet, 2011)

The 1950s-1970s saw high growth in car ownership, accompanied by an increase in emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and PM2.5 (Newman and Kenworthy, 2011). Although car ownership has continued to rise, NOx and PM2.5 levels have decreased since the 1970s due to a combination of technological advances and further political progress.

Dieselgate protest in Berlin (BUND Bundesverband, 2017)

There have been a few bumps in the road, however. In 2015, the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal broke, in which Volkswagen and other car manufacturers were revealed to have programmed on-board computers to cheat emissions tests (Fuller, 2019). Following this, sales of diesel cars in the UK nosedived, yet, frustratingly, sales of new electric/hybrid cars remain low (Ritchie and Roser, 2021), mainly due to their high initial costs and lack of charging infrastructure (ONS, 2021):

Source: Ritchie and Roser (2021)

Looking at the overall picture of air quality in the UK, data shows that there has been a steady decline in emissions of most air pollutants since the 1970s, but ammonia (NH3) levels persist (Ritchie and Roser, 2022):

Source: Ritchie and Roser (2022)

The culprit? Agriculture. According to Defra (2020; 2018), approximately 88% of ammonia emissions in the UK can be attributed to agriculture, and with 71% of UK land classed as agricultural, the scale of the issue is clear. Defra’s 2018 Code of Good Agricultural Practice (COGAP) for reducing ammonia emissions attempted to address this but given that observance of the Code is voluntary rather than mandated, its potential effectiveness is questionable.

But what about closer to home? According to Carrington (2021), the oh-so-hygge solid fuel burners in 8% of UK lounges account for, shockingly, 38% of PM2.5 emissions (26% more than road traffic, to put it into perspective). Although there are already smoke control areas in the UK, and the implementation of the 2019 Clean Air Strategy will ‘outlaw the sale of the most polluting fuels’ and ‘ensure that only the cleanest stoves are available for sale by 2022’ (Defra, 2019, p.59-60), the post-pandemic surge in energy prices and overall cost of living will likely mean that many homes continue to light up.
Compounding this problem is the long lifespan of solid fuel burners, meaning few people will ever buy a new, ‘cleaner’ one (Fuller 2019).

Source: Phelps (2019)

The top sources of air pollution may have changed over time, but the common denominator is human activity. Will we look back on the past with fog-tinted glasses, and allow history to repeat itself, or will we learn from our mistakes? It is down to every one of us to play a role in fighting the threat of air pollution, but crucially, the UK government must empower us to do so. We may hold the matches, but technological innovation and strong policies are the (seasoned) kindling we need to light the fire in our bellies.

(Adapted from Love Clean Air, 2014)

References

Bell, M.L. & Davis, D.L. (2001) Reassessment of the Lethal London Fog of 1952: Novel Indicators of Acute and Chronic Consequences of Acute Exposure to Air Pollution. Environmental Health Perspectives [online]. 109 (3), pp. 389-394. [Accessed 30 March 2022].

BUND Bundesverband (2017) Protest vor dem Dieselgate-Untersuchungsausschuss in Berlin [photograph]. In: Flickr [online]. Available from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/110742978@N08/33323423825 [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Carrington, D. (2021) Wood burning at home now biggest cause of UK particle pollution. The Guardian [online]. 16 February. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/feb/16/home-wood-burning-biggest-cause-particle-pollution-fires [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2020) Agriculture in the United Kingdom 2020 [online]. London: Defra. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1056618/AUK2020_22feb22.pdf [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2019) Clean Air Strategy 2019 [online]. London: Defra. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/770715/clean-air-strategy-2019.pdf [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2018) Code of Good Agricultural Practice (COGAP) for Reducing Ammonia Emissions [online]. London: Defra. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/729646/code-good-agricultural-practice-ammonia.pdf [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Farrow, A. (2018) London Smog, 1952 [photograph]. In: Flickr [online]. Available from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/116071498@N08/32506838248 [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Fouquet, R. (2011) Long run trends in energy-related external costs. Ecological Economics [online] 70 (12), pp. 2380-2389. [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Fuller, G. (2018) The invisible killer: the rising global threat of air pollution – and how we can fight back. London: Melville House.

Love Clean Air (2014) History of Air Quality. Available from: https://lovecleanair.org/about-air-quality/history-of-air-quality/#.YkS6pSjMK5d [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Monet, C. (c. 1903-4) The Houses of Parliament (Effect of Fog) [oil on canvas]. At: New York: The Met [online]. Available from: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/110001576 [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Office for National Statistics (2021) Over half of younger drivers likely to switch to electric in next decade. Available from: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/articles/overhalfofyoungerdriverslikelytoswitchtoelectricinnextdecade/2021-10-25 [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Office for National Statistics (2017) Causes of death over 100 years. Available from:  https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/articles/causesofdeathover100years/2017-09-18 [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Newman, P., and Kenworthy, J. (2011). Peak Car Use: Understanding the Demise of Automobile Dependence. World Transport, Policy & Practice [online]. 17 (2), pp. 1-42. [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Phelps, S. (2019) Opinion: Wood burning stoves are deadly, not trendy. The Bristol Cable [online]. 1 February. Available from: https://thebristolcable.org/2019/02/opinion-wood-burning-stoves-are-deadly-not-trendy/ [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Ritchie, H. (2017a) What the history of London’s air pollution can tell us about the future of today’s growing megacities. Available from: https://ourworldindata.org/london-air-pollution [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Ritchie, H. (2017b) Air Pollution, London vs. Delhi, 1700 to 2016. Available from: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/air-pollution-london-vs-delhi [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Ritchie, H., and Roser, M. (2022) Emissions of air pollutants, United Kingdom, 1970 to 2016. Available from: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/emissions-of-air-pollutants?time=1970..2016&country=~GBR [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Ritchie, H., and Roser, M. (2021) New passenger vehicles by type, United Kingdom. Available from: https://ourworldindata.org/transport [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Ritchie, H., and Roser, M. (2019) Number of deaths by cause, United Kingdom, 2019. Available from: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/annual-number-of-deaths-by-cause?country=~GBR [Accessed 30 March 2022].

The Crown (2016) Series 1, Episode 4, Act of God [online]. Netflix, 4 November. Available from: http://www.netflix.com/gb [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Widdicombe, J.H. (2020) A Brief History of Bronchitis in England and Wales. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases [online]. 7 (4), pp. 303-314. [Accessed 30 March 2022].

UWE Bristol-led study explores natural alternative to antibiotics in fight against Salmonella in pig farming

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Salmonella causes more than 93 million cases of salmonellosis, resulting in 155,000 deaths annually worldwide. Many severe cases are associated with the production and consumption of pork: salmonella is found in the pig gut and is often multidrug-resistant. The bacteria can be transmitted through the pigs’ oral−fecal route at the farm, the slaughterhouse, and the food processing plant, where it can survive and cross-contaminate equipment or the final food products, leading to human infections.

Salmonella is conventionally dealt with by using antibiotics. However, antimicrobial resistance is on the rise, and it is widely associated with the intensive use of antibiotics in pig farming. This has led to an increased interest in alternatives to antibiotics in the fight against bacterial pathogens.

Dr Alexandros Stratakos, Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Agri-Food Production at UWE Bristol, has led a study on alternatives to antibiotics in pig farming. Alexandros in collaboration with UWE Bristol colleagues Professor Olena Doran and Dr Sotirios Oikonomou, and Dr Dimitrios Lamprou from Queen’s University, Belfast, developed novel nanostructures for the targeted delivery of geraniol, a natural antivirulence compound, in the pig gut.

Geraniol is the primary component of citronella oil but can also be found in many other plant essential oils.

The study has shown that geraniol at specific concentrations inhibits Salmonella colonisation in the pig gut, which can potentially reduce the requirement for antibiotics in pig farming.

For this study, geraniol was also encapsulated in liposomal (spherical fat-like) formulations, which acted as carriers to protect the agent from degradation and increase its effectiveness against the pathogen.

This approach could lead to reduced Salmonella transmission to food, ultimately leading to an increase in the safety of the food supply chain.

The full publication can be accessed on the website of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


NEW Visualisation Technologies in Digital Design and Manufacture (DETI) Free Short Course

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In line with fulfilling the needs of the Digital Skills requirements in the Engineering sector, UWE Bristol and the Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation  programme (DETI) with its partner companies are organising a free, pre-recorded/online skills and training CPD course on visualisation Technologies in Digital Design and Manufacture. This course will be available to complete this June, with an Induction session on the 15 June 2022. 

Please click on the link below for further information, to make an enquiry and how to book:  

Visualisation Technologies in Digital Design and Manufacture (DETI) 

This course is organised as an interactive session with a lot of information and practical activity targeted at helping you understand the basics. Visualisation Technologies in Digital Design and Manufacture refers to immersive mixed reality technologies, with a key focus on Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR), and their potential beneficial applications within design, manufacture, and general enterprise environments. 

Partnerships:

This course is designed for learners with a technology, computer science or engineering background, who are in their early career looking to specialise into digital engineering, or those currently working in these sectors and looking to develop their existing skills: graduates, apprentices, technicians, engineers, operators, and anyone interested in upskilling or reskilling their knowledge in the subject area. 

The course aligns with the University’s commitment to transform futures: powering the future workforce.  

Registrations now open for Year Two of the Help to Grow: Management Programme 

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After a successful first year of the Help to Grow: Management training programme, registrations are now open for Year Two at UWE Bristol. 

Help to Grow: Management is a 12-week practical training programme for senior managers of small and medium enterprises that aims to help boost performance, resilience, and long-term growth of their businesses. Delivered through a blend of online and face-to-face learning, the course covers strategies for growth and innovation, leading high-performance teams, and digital adoption, as well as financial management and responsible business practices. 

Learners engage in regular peer group calls, have access to 10 hours of one-to-one mentor support, hear from guest speakers and have access to join other SME leaders through both local and national alumni networks. 

By the end of the programme, participants will develop a tailored business growth plan to help increase productivity and revenue and thus take their business to the next level.  

Help to Grow: Management is 90% subsidised by the government and costs just £750. Designed to be undertaken alongside full-time work, the twelve modules require 50 hours of commitment to timetabled activities.  

In our first year, UWE Bristol has guided over one hundred SME leaders through the programme, building on the university’s proven track record of supporting SMEs across the South-West. UWE Bristol has held the Small Business Charter since 2015 indicating a strong track record in working with, supporting and developing businesses. Those completing the programme have benefitted from the expertise of UWE module facilitators – Senior Lecturers at Bristol Business School who combine academic and real-life business experience. Additionally, learners have been supported throughout the course by a dedicated project support team enabling the smooth running of the programme and excellent pastoral care.  

UWE Bristol Help to Grow: Management Alumni, Robert Ogden of Renewable Exchange commented:  

“The programme gives you a very broad coverage of a lot of relevant business topics. For me personally, the mentoring sessions were a great way to take the entire course material, distil down what I found most relevant to Renewable Exchange and then turn these into actionable changes. Some of these changes can be fairly significant, for example, we’ve now opened an office in Germany which is our first international market. But, quite a lot of the changes that you might look to make are fairly small and quick improvements and just those marginable gains that improves the way the business functions and considers problems, and I found these to be really helpful for Renewable Exchange.  

If you’re looking for ways to grow your business, and if you go in with the right open-minded attitude and can commit the necessary time to learning and taking action off the back of it, then you’ve got a really great chance of getting some success out of your investment into the programme, so I would definitely recommend it.” 

UWE Bristol Programme Director, Dan Knox commented: 

“We at Bristol Business School are rightly proud of our long-standing commitment to regional businesses and communities, and especially pleased to have supported so many businesses on the Help to Grow: Management programme.  The depth and breadth of support that this programme offers is unrivalled nationally and really gives SME leaders the time, the space and the tools to step back from day-to-day operations in order to think strategically. We look forward to welcoming many more businesses to the programme in 2022-23 and to continuing to support our alumni to find the most appropriate ways for them to continue to grow and to engage with further opportunities in the regional and national business development ecosystem.”   

UWE Bristol are running courses across the South West, including Bristol, Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire and Cornwall through the academic year 2022-23.  

Find out more about courses available and book your place on our website or contact the team on helptogrow@uwe.ac.uk


UWE Bristol academic leads new study exploring equitable outcomes for babies born out of hospital

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Adapted from this blog from the South West Academic Health Science Network.

Around 0.5% of all UK births happen out of hospital unexpectedly, whether at home, in a public place, or in a car or ambulance while the mother is on the way to hospital, without the presence of a qualified midwife or obstetrician.[1] 

These births, known as Birth Before Arrivals (BBA), are often associated with unfavourable outcomes for the newborn, including hypothermia.   

As part of its new Perinatal Health Equity Programme, the South West Academic Health Science Network (South West AHSN) have launched a new project focused on BBAs, to understand which women are most at risk of giving birth before arriving at hospital and investigate the neonatal temperature management advice given to callers who ring 999 for the ambulance service about a BBA. 

The project is being led by Dr Laura Goodwin, Senior Research Fellow in Emergency Care at University of West of England and part of the Research in Emergency Care, Avon Collaborative Hub (REACH). Dr Goodwin is an experienced researcher, with a background in both prehospital care and inequalities in maternal and perinatal outcomes.  

Below, South West AHSN Maternal and Neonatal Programme Manager, Sally Hedge, interviews Dr Goodwin, as the project begins, to understand more.   

Sally Hedge (SH): Hi Laura, can you tell me more about births of babies before arrival at hospital? How is it different to a home birth? 

Laura Goodwin (LG): Home births are usually planned by the parents-to-be, and support will be in place in advance.  

In contrast, BBAs are, by their nature, unexpected, and often the mother, father or another bystander is talked through the birth process by a 999 call-handler, with paramedics arriving either just before, or sometimes after, the baby has arrived. It is estimated that 3,700 BBAs are attended by the UK ambulance service each year.[2] 

In my previous research [3], 1,582 individual births were identified as BBA between February 2017 – February 2020 in the region serviced by the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT). This region covers the entire South West, from Bath and Gloucestershire, south to Wiltshire, and west to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. This is approximately 530 babies born before arrival at hospital per year, on average.  

SH: Why are BBAs an issue? Are there increased risks involved?  

LG: Yes – and one of the primary risks, for the baby, is hypothermia. This occurs when the baby’s temperature drops below 36.5°C.  Newborns lose body heat quickly; for every minute that a newborn is exposed, their temperature can drop by approximately 0.1°C – 0.3°C. [4] This isn’t usually an issue in a hospital setting or homebirth, as the environment will be controlled (i.e. by putting the heating on, preparing warm blankets etc.). However, in a BBA, the birth is usually unexpected and people often don’t have time to make these preparations. BBAs can also occur in the car or outside, where it isn’t possible to create any kind of warm environment for the baby to be born into. The risk of hypothermia for babies born before arrival at hospital is recognised by the Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee, and noted in their guidance to paramedics [5] for that situation.  

SH: The South West AHSN is interested in helping to close the gaps in inequalities in the health and wellbeing of mothers and families. Can you give more detail on why BBA is potentially a health equity issue, Laura? 

LG: The literature suggests there are some contributing risk factors for BBA, including ethnic group, age, parity (meaning the number of previous births a mother has had), antenatal care, etc. Some of these risk factors are the same things that increase the risk of poor outcomes for babies in general. So we think it is important to try to understand which women are most at risk of BBA, which babies are most likely to be cold on arrival, and how this interacts with outcomes such as mortality, length of hospital stay, and the need for special care/interventions.  

Previous reports around inequalities in maternal and perinatal outcomes suggest increased risk of poor outcomes for women who do not engage with, or who have had little engagement with, maternity services. This includes concealed or teenage pregnancies, as well as women from migrant or minority ethnic backgrounds, who might not speak English well and therefore not fully understand instructions from 999 call handlers. We will be looking at all the demographic data to establish whether these hypotheses are correct, and whether there are more groups that are also at risk. 

SH: What is the project aiming to achieve, other than investigating the demographics of BBAs? 

LG: We know that often the most vulnerable women are those who do not engage with services until the time of the emergency call, so a change to the way that the emergency episode is managed is therefore more likely to have direct impact than carrying out a public health campaign. We will be investigating (and potentially improving on) the advice given to women regarding neonatal temperature management during 999 calls relating to BBA. 

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch produced a report in Feb 2022 [6] which looked at the advice being given by call handlers during pre-hospital births. Some of the information that was being given to those on a 999 call around a labouring mother was conflicting and potentially poor or problematic, but the scope of the report was not around ensuring that good advice was given. Instead it called for investigations to be done on this. Happily, we were planning this already! 

We also want to investigate ways to support better temperature management of babies in the prehospital setting, and will be using the data from this report to feed into a funding bid to look at that in the future. 

SH: Tell me about how the project will be carried out.  

LG: Phase A is a data-gathering exercise, looking at the number of BBAs in Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and the proportion of those babies who are below the lower temperature limit (36.5°C) on admission. We want to look at the babies’ outcomes, (i.e. need for special care, length of hospital stay, interventions/treatment needed, and mortality). We’re also going to be examining the demographic information around the mothers/parents of these babies (i.e. ethnicity/migrant status of parents, age of mother, geographical location, deprivation index, and more) in order to understand more about potential risk factors for BBA and/or poor outcomes. 

We are delighted that all seven local NHS trusts have signed up to participate in this research.  

Phase B will look at transcripts from real-life 999 calls regarding BBA and analyse the advice that is given around managing the baby’s temperature. 

Phase C will discuss the findings of Phase B with focus groups comprising NHS staff in relevant disciplines and members of the public who have experience of prehospital birth, either as the mother or the person who called 999. We will be looking for volunteers for these groups in early summer 2022. 

SH: What’s the timescale you’re working with, Laura? 

LG: Phase A and Phase B are now up and running. We will start recruiting for Phase C in May or June 2022, with our report due to be published in November 2022.  

SH: The South West AHSN has been involved from the beginning, providing funding and project management, and facilitating links with local NHS Trusts and other key individuals and organisations. How are you finding working with us so far?  

LG: It’s been great! There is a lot of involvement and great support in finding the right people. I’ve noticed more volunteers and enthusiasm than previous work. Being part of the wider Maternal and Neonatal Safety Improvement Programme community is also really helpful. 

SH: What impact are you hoping your research will have?  

LG: Primarily, we want to improve outcomes for babies born unexpectedly outside of a hospital setting. This work is focused on the babies, but it’s also the case that better outcomes for them lead to better outcomes for their parents too. Our route to doing this is by improving the call handlers’ scripts, or algorithms, for prehospital delivery situations, to enable good temperature management advice to be given.  

We are also hoping to do future work to support paramedics and ambulance staff to manage temperature of newborns more effectively. We have already had brilliant engagement from SWASFT and other ambulance services in taking this forward. 

 If you would like to find out more about the Birth Before Arrival project, including becoming involved, please contact Dr Laura Goodwin (laura.goodwin@uwe.ac.uk).  

The South West AHSN’s Perinatal Health Equity Programme has been set up to identify and spread innovative practice that can help to close gaps in perinatal health and care in South West England.  Learn more about our Perinatal Health Equity Programme on our webpage.  

The Birth Before Arrival project builds on previous work by the South West AHSN’s Maternal and Neonatal Safety Improvement Programme. Place of birth and thermoregulation are also elements of PERIPrem (Perinatal Excellence to Reduce Injury in Premature Birth), a bundle of 11 interventions designed to reduce brain injury and death caused in premature birth. The South West AHSN and West of England Academic Health Science Network are driving adoption of PERIPrem throughout the South West.  


References  

[1] Loughney A, Collis R, Dastgir S. Birth before arrival at delivery suite: Associations and consequences. British Journal of Midwifery. 2006;14(4):204-208. 

[2] Office for National Statistics Dataset: Vital statistics in the UK: births, deaths and marriages, 2020 https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/datasets/vitalstatisticspopulationandhealthreferencetables. Accessed 20 October 2020

[3] Goodwin L, Voss S, McClelland G, Beach E, Bedson A, Black S, Deave T, Miller N, Taylor H, Benger J.  Temperature measurement of babies born in the pre-hospital setting: analysis of ambulance service data and qualitative interviews with paramedics. Manuscript submitted for publication.  

[4] Adamsons K, Towell ME. Thermal homeostasis in the fetus and newborn. The Journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. 1965;26(4):531-548. 

[5] Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee, Association of Ambulance Chief Executives. JRCALC Clinical Guidelines 2019. Somerset: Class Professional Publishing; 2019. 

[6] Maternity pre-arrival instructions by 999 call handlers, Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch, 2022. https://hsib-kqcco125-media.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/documents/hsib-report-maternity-pre-arrival-instructions-by-999-call-handlers.pdf 

Opportunities for recent graduates with our Knowledge Transfer Partnership scheme

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The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme is a UK-wide programme helping businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity.

Run for nearly 50 years and now funded by Innovate UK, KTPs have helped fund over 12,000 businesses and increased their innovation and growth.

A KTP is a great opportunity to fast-track your career. We currently have two vacancies for recent graduates to work with businesses at part of a KTP.

Both opportunities are a 24-month fixed term contract. Each role includes management and business skills training provided by the national KTP programme and a further £2k per annum dedicated training budget tailored towards your personal development.

Specialist support from the academic team at UWE Bristol are provided and on completion of the KTP project it is the company’s intention to offer on-going employment to the right candidate.

Business Change Analyst (Digital Transformation & Leadership): My Cookie Dough

 The role of the KTP Associate will help identify, evaluate, and target new markets for the company’s management systems. This will require market research, marketing communication improvements, and the implementation of new organisational processes and practices.

About My Cookie Dough:

Based locally in Warmley, Bristol, My Cookie Dough Ltd are a highly-skilled, professional dessert company that specialises in baked cookie dough dessert. Their mission is to spread happiness with Cookie Dough, and do it in a way that is ethically good and sustainable.

Business and Marketing Innovation Lead: PB Shop

The role of the KTP Associate will help identify business improvements and optimisation and will help with the expansion and scale into new markets by enhancing existing and introducing new management capabilities.

About PBShop

Based in Fairford, Gloucestershire, PBShop is a recently established Employee-Owend Trust (EOP) that carries a 20-year legacy of autocratic leadership.  The vision is to empower employees to adopt the cultural mindset of collective leadership.  PBShop are the first fully virtual bookseller supplying books around the world.  UK’s largest virtual inveotruy book supplier working with all the world’s largest marketplace sellers, wholesalers and retail customers.

Applications open for Partnership PhD scheme

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UWE Bristol has recently announced another application round of its successful Partnership PhD programme.

A Partnership PhD bridges the gap between external organisations and university. It enables an organisation to gain access to cutting-edge real-world research that can help transform it.

The Partnership establishes a relationship between an organisation and UWE Bristol, based on a specific project that is mutually beneficial.

Organisations have the opportunity to choose a relevant research area and gain access to cutting-edge research. The researcher will work extensively with the organisation to provide a tailored piece of research.

In turn, the researcher will gain an opportunity to pursue their research in a real-world setting, developing transferable and interdisciplinary skills whilst gaining cross-sector experience.

Over the past two years, the Graduate School, part of the Research, Business and Innovation team at UWE Bristol, has been developing the Partnership PhD scheme. Through it, UWE’s investment in Post Graduate Research has been matched by over £1.5m from 40+ partner organisations.

Application deadline 1 July 2022 for Partnership PhD’s starting in 1 January 2023.

Email uwebusiness@uwe.ac.uk to find out more.

Please find below full Partnership PhD guidance, costings, useful information and the flyer for businesses:

See below for our slides for businesses:

Email uwebusiness@uwe.ac.uk to find out more.

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