UWE Bristol Academic Spotlight: Professor in Unconventional Computing, Andrew Adamatzky

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Andrew Adamatzky is a Professor in Unconventional Computing in the Department of Computer Science and Director of the Unconventional Computing Laboratory at UWE Bristol. 

Professor Adamatzky founded the Unconventional Computing Laboratory in 2001 as a response to an urgent need to develop computers for the next century. They employ complex dynamics in physical, chemical and biological media to design novel computational techniques, architectures and working prototypes of non-linear media based computers.

Read more about the Unconvetional Computing Laboratory in our Blog.

Andrew’s research is focused on reaction-diffusion computing, cellular automata, physarum computing, massive parallel computation, applied mathematics, collective intelligence and robotics, bionics, computational psychology, non-linear science, novel hardware, and future and emergent computation. His research interests are in unconventional computing – developing of novel computing paradigms, architectures, implementations and prototypes of alternative computing devices made of living, physical and chemical systems.

Examples of unconventional computers he has developed include excitable chemical medium computers, slime mould computer, computers from plants and fungi.

In 2019 Andrew led the team of researchers from the  Centre of Unconventional Computing in the development of the construction of a smart home for the future using fungi, a carbon free material, as part of a £2.5 million project funded by the European Commission.

This revolutionary new type of intelligent building is made with green construction materials and capable of adaptively reacting to changes in light, temperature and air pollutants. The work was in collaboration with partners from Denmark (Centre for Information Technology and Architecture), Italy (MOGU) and the Netherlands (Utrecht University).

Read more about this work here

Business Interests:

  • Living architectures
  • Nanocomputers
  • Biosensors

Academic expertise:

1. Development of biosensors based on living fungi and slime moulds
2. Development of adaptive materials (to be used in construction industry and fashion industry) capable for sensing and computing
3. Development of nanocomputers based on cytoskeleton

For further information about Professor Adamatzky’s work click here

UWE’s Faculty of Engineering and Technology’s short courses addressing Sustainability and Climate Change

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An Introduction to Zero Carbon Buildings

Our Autumn run has begun with over 900 participants signed up for this very popular MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). This free online course is for professionals of the built environment who wish to raise their awareness of zero carbon design and construction. It sets out the process of building development in a zero carbon context, raising awareness of the technical, social and economic challenges that need to be overcome in transitioning to zero carbon.

For further details and to make an enquiry about the next course please click here

Air Quality CPD

Based on updated Local Air Quality Management Guidance, UWE’s Air Quality Management Resource Centre (AQMRC) offers a suite of five online courses which can be taken all together or as individual days:

Delivered as self-learning (materials access only) or blended learning (materials + live session), each topic provides you with a set of interactive web-based materials to work through. The courses will be of interest to students, practitioners and policy makers involved in air quality management in Environmental health/protection; Public health; Transport; Land-use planning.

  • Dates: Access to online materials: 20 Sept to 17 Dec 2021 / Live sessions: 1 to 5 November 2021, 09:30-12:30
  • Fees (per topic): £180 Early Bird / £215 / £182 UWE Alumni/Student / £95 materials only

Sustainable Development in Practice courses

Dates are soon to be published for our portfolio of short courses that focus on the urgent challenges faced by organisations, communities and government in effecting sustainable change in individual behaviour, business practice and wider society. Students who complete all four modules can achieve a postgraduate qualification in Sustainable Development Practice.

University Enterprise Zone Spotlight: Robotics Innovation Facility

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The Robotics Innovation Facility (RIFBristol) is one of five areas that make up UWE Bristol’s University Enterprise Zone. The below spotlight explains its purpose:

Located beside the UEZ café, which forms a central meeting place for the building’s companies, entrepreneurs and academics, is one of the most exciting parts of the University. Identifiable by the array of industrial robot arms and other cutting-edge hardware, visible through its window onto the café – the Robotics Innovation Facility (RIFBristol) is a high tech, inspiring and truly creative space. 

As UWE Bristol’s specialist industry-facing unit within the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) – a collaborative partnership between the city-region’s two universities and the UK’s most comprehensive academic centre for multi-disciplinary robotics research – RIFBristol provides training, research and consultancy services to a range of private and public sector clients.

Recognised as a Digital Innovation Hub by the European Union, it has been successfully delivering robotics workshops, prototyping and validating new products, demonstrating how automation can improve manufacturing processes, and supervising student-industry collaborations, since 2013.

“Our engineers help clients to trial various technical solutions, identifying the best options for their requirements,” says Farid Dailami, Director of RIFBristol and Associate Professor for Knowledge Exchange in Manufacturing.

“They can advise on capital purchases, support the deployment and integration of hardware, undertake research and proof-of-concept work, and deliver training.”

One of the unique strengths of RIFBristol is what it describes as its ‘brand agnostic’ approach. As part of BRL and UWE Bristol, it is not tied to a particular hardware manufacturer or supplier. It is, therefore, under no pressure to favour a particular brand or model and its advice is always honest, unbiased and wholly tailored to its customers’ needs.

This also means that its dedicated workspace in the UEZ is equipped with an impressive range of manufacturing equipment. ABB, KUKA and Universal robot arms sit alongside conveyers, sensors, cameras and laser measuring systems, all of which can be used to address clients’ research, CPD and product development challenges.  

“Our expertise is as diverse as our hardware”, says Dailami. “Our staff have knowledge of industrial robotics, cobotics, mechanical and electronics engineering, mechatronics, smart manufacturing, 3D printing and simulation. This diversity is our strength. We can help with robotics, but we can also bring knowledge and experience of related disciplines into play”

Alongside its private consultancy projects, RIFBristol leads several publicly funded research and business support programmes. The EU-funded TERRINet initiative, for example, enables researchers at all levels, from undergraduates, to PhD candidates and industry-based professionals, to access robotics infrastructure located across Europe. 

Since 2018, RIFBristol has also delivered the ERDF-funded SABRE Programme. This £1m project has enabled small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from across the West of England to explore the benefits of robotics and automation.

From start-ups, micro-enterprises and sole traders, to larger and more established companies, its free and subsidised services have helped businesses to get the most from these important technologies.

“RIFBristol and the SABRE Programme played a vital role in the completion of our initial prototype. It enabled the company to undertake pilot studies with leading OEMs – and to safeguard the development of this exciting technology in the UK, securing 3 existing, and creating 4 new, jobs in the West of England.”

Dr Evangelos Zympeloudis, CEO, iCOMAT Ltd | www.icomat.co.uk


For more information about RIFBristol visit its website. The University Enterprise Zone is also made up of the Health Tech HubFuture SpaceLaunch Space and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory Hardware Incubator.

University Enterprise Zone Spotlight: Future Space

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Future Space is one of four areas that make up UWE Bristol’s University Enterprise Zone. The below spotlight explains a bit about them:

Who we are

Future Space is an innovation centre, based on UWE Bristol‘s Frenchay campus, within the University Enterprise Zone. The centre offers a range of office space, laboratories, workshops, and coworking facilities designed specifically for high-tech, science-based entrepreneurs and innovators. Future Space is managed by Oxford Innovation, the UK’s largest operator of innovation centres, and manages a growing network of over 25 innovation centres in the UK.

A former head chef, a PhD in cancer genetics, and one of the region’s top 75 innovators; just some of the eclectic accolades of our Future Space Team. With a wealth of experience in business, and managing lab and workspace, we’re on hand to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

What we offer to business

There are many reasons why Future Space is a fantastic location for growing science and technology businesses: Purpose built laboratories; Customisable workshops; and a range of flexible offices and shared spaces. A distinct advantage is the positioning of the centre – on UWE Bristol campus and co-located with the Health Tech Hub and Bristol Robotics Laboratory.

We also have an onsite Innovation team to oversee all the business needs of our community and provide practical business support for our tech and life science residents. As well as running peer networks and 1:1 support, the team organises free expert advice for resident businesses, connects companies with the University, and designs and develops a varied support programme of workshops and Q&As.

An event held in the Hub Space of the University Enterprise Zone

How we work with UWE

Our Innovation team works closely with UWE Bristol to drive collaboration opportunities. If you are a small company in the early stages of development, it can be difficult to find the capacity to carry out all aspects of running the business as well as giving focus to building your product and services. The knowledge and expertise you have in-house is also likely to be limited. Universities can play a key role in helping SMEs grow, with access to skills training, student and graduate resource, academic expertise, and an abundance of practical advice.

Businesses based at Future Space have benefitted from more than 200 engagements with UWE Bristol, from the use of specialist equipment at the university, to funded business assist support through programmes such as the Health Technology Accelerator Programme and SABRE. This support has enabled companies to build new products and services, as well as giving access to valuable knowledge and technical expertise that is needed in the early stages of development.

You can read more in our recent article.

What’s new for 2021/2022

Student and graduate engagement with SMEs are a core focus in the centre, with residents offered fully funded UWE Bristol internships, as well as regular chances to pitch project briefs to degree and masters level students. This year we launched our new internship programme aimed at post-graduate students, as well as undergraduate students – more than 40 interns have been employed in the Future Space community over the years, and these internships bring in vital skills and talent to resident businesses. We will be developing this programme further in 2021/22.

This year, our team also got involved in UWE Bristol’s Digital Innovation Fund, delivering innovation training as part of the ‘Innovation & Bid-writing’ course, delivered to SMEs in the region. This was a great opportunity for SMEs and our Future Space community, and we are committed to working closely on future programmes.

Our strong affiliation with UWE Bristol brings a huge amount of opportunities for resident businesses, from student and graduate engagement, to innovation support, and funding opportunities. The impact of all of this work is seen in the great successes of our community, and you can read about some of these in our cases studies and blogs. We’re excited to see what’s next.

For further information about Future Space please contact info@futurespacebristol.co.uk

UWE Bristol and Future Space listed as top Innovators in region

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TechSPARK recently produced their list of top entrepreneurs, techies and innovators who they have named the Top Innovators in the region.

TechSPARK is a not-for-profit network dedicated to connecting, educating and strengthening the digi-tech cluster in the West. They work with tech and digital businesses from Startups to Scaleups, SME’s to Global Corporations based in the region to help them to grow.

In 2019 TechSPARK compiled a list of top innovators from across the region to celebrate and recognise their achievements. We were delighted that the 2021 list featured Aimee Skinner, Innovation Manager at Future Space and Mark Corderoy, Entrepreneur in Residence at UWE Bristol.

Aimee said:

“I am thrilled to have been named as one of the region’s top 75 innovators. The list is brimming with innovative thinkers, future leaders, and entrepreneurs, and I am proud to be considered amongst them.”

Aimee has background in Environmental Science and a decade of continuous improvement experience in regulated industries. She is currently Innovation Manager at Future Space, as well as co-managing Bristol Innovators’ Group. Future Space is part of the University Enterprise Zone, based on UWE Bristol Frenchay campus, and managed by Oxford Innovation. In her role she actively supports the growth of start-ups and SMEs within the South West, providing a range of business support and advisory services, as well as running University engagement opportunities, such as a dedicated Internship programme for resident businesses.

Mark said:

“It’s really pleasing that our work in the University Enterprise Zone is being recognised. Launching a start-up is an ambitious venture for anyone, and we are always trying to find new ways to help these companies succeed.”

With a background in engineering and technology in a variety of commercial settings, Mark is an experienced Technologist and Mentor. He has been at UWE Bristol for last four years as Incubation Manager for the Bristol Robotics Laboratory the leading and largest academic centre for multi-disciplinary robotics research in the UK and also Incubation Manager for Launch Space, a programme that provides business support and space to start-up businesses in UWE Bristol’s Enterprise Zone.

To contact Aimee email ASkinner@oxin.co.uk and to contact Mark email Mark.Corderoy@uwe.ac.uk .



UWE researchers use socially intelligent robot in a school to support autistic young people

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Original story appeared on UWE Bristol website.

UWE Bristol researchers have placed a socially intelligent robot at a special needs school in Somerset to support autistic pupils aged 12 to 19 with their wellbeing and emotions over a three-week period.

The robot, known as Pepper, is can take part in a range of social and physical activities with children, such as story-telling, dancing, and relaxation techniques which are designed to help autistic pupils manage their emotions and wellbeing. Many autistic children can have difficulty regulating their emotions and require calming and stimulation to help them engage with school-based activities.

UWE researchers Dr Louis Rice, Associate Professor in  Architecture and the Built Environment; Dr Nigel Newbutt, Senior Lecturer in Digital Education; and Dr Séverin Lemaignan, Associate Professor in Social Robotics and AI, were funded in part by the universities Vice-Chancellor’s Challenge Fund.

UWE Bristol’s Vice-Chancellor’s Challenge Fund enables researchers to reach beyond their research centres, departments and faculties; look outside of their disciplines; and develop exciting new research with colleagues working in different fields. The University’s aim is to support collaborations that are ready to respond to external funding calls which require innovative interdisciplinary responses to meet future opportunities.

Dr Severin Lemaignan, said: “The use of robots to support autistic children is not entirely new. However, while previous research has focused on teaching skills to children, our autistic participants told us this is not what they actually need. Our approach focuses instead on wellbeing and child-led interactions. Our robot lives in the school’s corridors; Pepper engages with the children on their terms.’’

Find out more about the trial in the full story here.

UWE Bristol Living Architecture Project selected to be showcased on EU Innovation Radar Website

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An innovation developed through the EU funded “Living Architecture” Project, has been selected by the EU as something to be showcased on their Innovation Radar website. The project is between UWE Bristol; University of Newcastle Upon Tyne; the Spanish National Research Council; LIQUIFER Systems Group; Expolora SRL and the University of Trento, Italy. The recognition of the project on this website helps to demonstrate the work UWE have been doing to a global audience and may lead to new opportunities.

Living Architecture is conceived as a next-generation selectively-programmable bioreactor technology and integral component of human dwelling, capable of extracting valuable resources from waste water and air, generation of oxygen and production of proteins and fiber by manipulating consortia performance. The project’s final demonstrator is a modular bioreactor-wall, which is based on the operational principles of UWE’s microbial fuel cell technology and synthetic ‘consortia’ of microbes. Its operational principles are grounded in distributed sensing, decentralised autonomous information processing, high-degree of fault-tolerance and distributed actuation and reconfiguration.

Project lead for UWE Bristol Yannis Ieropoulos commented:  “We are really excited that our project has been selected to be showcased by the European Commission’s Innovation Radar. This is testament to the scientific excellence of this collective effort, which empirically demonstrates the positive impact that any building can have on our environment and the real value it can add to society.”

Details of the team’s innovation are now available here.

Research undertaken at UWE Bristol could reduce the need for precautionary antibiotics when it comes to Urinary tract infections

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Adapted from news article which originally appeared on the UWE Bristol Website.

Researchers at UWE Bristol are supporting the North Bristol NHS Trust to develop a device that can diagnose urinary tract infections (UTI) in a few minutes.  The project, funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), could avoid instances when doctors prescribe antibiotics as a precautionary measure while waiting for test results.

The device, which will be about the size of a domestic toaster, is to be developed within the University’s Institute of Bio-sensing Technology. It will work using a cartridge that contains antibodies to common UTI bacteria, and a protein indicating when an infection is present. A small volume of the patient’s urine sample is poured into the cartridge, which is then placed in the new detection device, after which a diagnosis can be made quickly.

Professor Richard Luxton, who is co-Founder and Director of the Institute of Bio-sensing Technology at UWE Bristol said: “As well as speeding up the diagnostic process, this device is aimed at minimizing inappropriate prescription of antibiotics and hence supporting the aim of reducing antimicrobial resistance.

“Currently it can take up to three days to get a result for a urine sample sent to a microbiology laboratory. If the patient has ongoing symptoms, the GP will sometimes prescribe antibiotics before the result is back. This could be harmful to the patient, and also to the community at large.”

Professor Marcus Drake, Consultant Urologist from North Bristol NHS Trust and project Principle Investigator, said that as well as being slow, such methods are sometimes unreliable. “The new device will detect the infecting bacteria directly, giving a reliable indicator of the UTI. Current dipstick type tests measure chemicals in the urine that suggest bacteria may be present, but these are not sensitive and may miss an infection,” he said.

The development of the diagnostic device is in its early stages and the project duration is scheduled for three years to develop a prototype, and do a preliminary test with real urine specimens. Over a following three-year period, researchers will then further develop the diagnostic system to bring it in line with regulations, with a plan for the device to then be used in clinical trials.

Following this, the researchers hope to make it available to the NHS for use in GP surgeries for patients with suspected UTI.

Read the full story here.

KTP Case Study: Viper Innovations

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The Company

Since their foundation in 2007, Viper Innovations Ltd have provided innovative technology solutions within the oil and gas sector. Their technology-leading product, CableGuardian®, can monitor and identify the location of faults along cables and has helped Viper win several awards (2018 PwC SW Business of the Year, Queens Award for Enterprise, IET 2018 Intelligent Systems Innovation Award). Viper set out to transfer this success to new industry sectors, specifically rail, and sought collaboration with the University of the West of England (UWE) to innovate their market engagement models.

The Challenge

Viper recognised its technology had potential for sectors outside of subsea oil and gas, and a new opportunity in rail highlighted the need for a new market engagement model for the company.

Utilising the expertise from UWE, the project tackled the challenge of gaining visibility and credibility within the rail sector. UWE transferred the necessary knowledge to implement a sales and marketing plan for their CableGuardian product. Furthermore, through workshops and training sessions, staff at Viper Innovations were taught innovative methods, to secure future growth in various sectors both within the UK and globally.

“We would like to thank our Academic Partners at UWE for their invaluable contribution and dedication to this project. The KTP has proven to be an excellent vehicle for transferring and embedding a level of knowledge and understanding to the business”

Max Nodder, Business Development Director at Viper Innovations 

The Project

Fundamentally, the work of the team and knowledge exchange from UWE clarified the companies’ diversification strategy and, as a result, its future growth opportunity. Through extensive research of 29 market sectors across 18 countries, the project identified methods to optimise the CableGuardian routes to market. Furthermore, by taking a step change in its approach to product development, Viper now works a lot more closely with partners and stakeholders, which has ensured alignment to the needs of their clients, reduced development costs and time to market.

The Associate working on the project brought outstanding marketing skills and experience, and her proactive approach fuelled the success of the project. The KTP provided an opportunity for the Associate to conduct global research and produce journal articles which aided in her recruitment to an Associate Lecturer role at UWE.

Key Facts

  • Provided Viper’s employees with the knowledge to commercialise their technology in different markets
  • Led to collaborative testing with Network Rail
  • Established global visibility and brought an invitation to the Trade Mission to Malaysia, Singapore and Australia as well as leads from key organisations within the rail sector (AMEY, East West Rail, Alliance, Siemens, Alstom)

This partnership received financial support from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme (KTP).  KTP aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK knowledge base.  This successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership project, funded by UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK, is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.

Gestural musical gloves, developed at UWE, available on pre-order

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Featured Researcher: Dr Tom Mitchell

Gestural musical gloves, technology originally developed at UWE Bristol by Dr Tom Mitchell, are now available for pre-order through a company called MI.MU. The gloves use motion capture and AI to enable wearers to create music with their movements.

The technology, which has been developed in partnership with Grammy Award-winning musician Imogen Heap, has already produced a small run of bespoke and handmade gloves for a select few musicians.

The product’s commercialisation now means that the gloves are half their original price and currently cost £2500 a pair. They have been designed according to the needs of musical artists and contain enhanced build quality and gesture control, improved electronics, and faster wireless communication.

In 2014, Ms Heap founded MI.MU, a partnership with UWE Bristol that also comprises fashion designer Rachel Freire, E-textiles designer Hannah Perner-Wilson, electronic engineer Sebastian Madgwick, scientist and musician Kelly Snook, musician and UX designer Chagall van den Berg, as well as Managing Director Adam Stark.

It was then made available to the public and saw the growth of a burgeoning community of performers making use of the gloves’ potential – from classical pianists, to film composers, beatboxers, and pop stars including Ariana Grande, who used the gloves on her 2015 ‘Honeymoon’ world tour.

Since 2014, Dr Mitchell and colleagues have refined the technology, streamlining designs with initial support from private investors and a range of academic and enterprise support including the EU Commission and Innovate UK.

Dr Mitchell said: “It’s exciting that we have managed to get to a point where the gloves will soon be available to all musicians. The gloves bring a new creative dimension to music performance, enabling musicians to create the movements that perform their music. I can’t wait to see what people will do with the technology.”

Imogen Heap, who uses the gloves as part of her performances, said: “So happy that we are finally able to extend the incredible superhuman feeling of having music in our hands out to a wider audience. You just have to remember to open your eyes during a performance, as it becomes so second nature!”
Adam Stark, Managing Director of MI.MU, said: “We are hugely proud to release the MI-MU gloves to musicians everywhere, and we can’t wait to see what they do with them.

“They are the result of years of research and development into new ways to compose and perform music. We believe they will enable musicians to discover new forms of expression, leading to new ideas, new performances and, ultimately, new forms of music.”

Featured researcher Dr Tom Mitchell

Tom is a Lecturer in computer music in the department of Computer Science and Creative Technologies at UWE Bristol.

Email: Tom.Mitchell@uwe.ac.uk

Phone: +4411732 83349

Originally appeared on the UWE Bristol website