UWE Bristol researchers develop new method to detect date rape drug in drinks

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UWE Bristol Researchers have developed a smartphone-based sensor for the determination of gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB); a popular recreational drug. Its strong sedative and amnesic effects have led to drug-facilitated sexual assaults, poisonings, overdose, and even death, something widely reported in the news amidst a recent rise in cases of drink spiking incidents.

As a result, legislation has restricted its availability, leading to GHB consumers switching to its pro-drug, gamma-butyrolactone (GBL). A pro-drug is a medication or compound that, after administration, is metabolised into a pharmacologically active drug. There is a growing need for methods capable of determining GBL in complex samples such as beverages. It was shown possible to quantify both, GBL and GHB, using the camera of a smartphone to record images of the purple colour developed following simple chemistry.

A downloadable free App available from the Apple App Store (Color picker and helper, version 1.1.6) was used to extract the numerical values of the Red, Green, and Blue (RGB) colour components of the purple colour.  Using these values, it was possible to determine the concentration of the drugs present in fortified lager samples; indicating the method holds promise for the determination of both GBL and GHB in such drinks.

The findings were recently published in a paper:  Procida, A., & Honeychurch, K. C. (2022). Smartphone-based colorimetric determination of gamma-butyrolactone and gamma-hydroxybutyrate in alcoholic beverage samples. Journal of Forensic Sciences.

Copies are available via the UWE Repository at: https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/9282890

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  

Community STEM Club connects local community, engineering students, and industry professionals

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The Old Library Community STEM Club has become a well-established weekly event in Eastville since it was first launched in September 2021: every Thursday after school, children and their parents or carers make their way to the Old Library Community Hub to take part in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) based activities, and to play and socialise.

The Old Library is a community led and run project, based in the former Eastville Library, which was closed down in March 2016 after council budget cuts. It now serves as a hire space for workshops and activities, including a community café, workshops, crafts, quiz nights, music, book clubs, a repair café, and the weekly STEM Club.

The Club was co-developed with the team behind UWE Bristol’s DETI Inspire, a programme designed to connect children from all backgrounds with real-life, diverse engineering role models to widen participation and aspirations for STEM careers.

It gets further support from Industry professionals via the STEM Ambassador Hub, and UWE Bristol Engineering students, who regularly support and run activities.

A club for the whole community

The sessions vary every week: children have built balloon- and sail powered cars, electric circuits, bike pump powered paper rockets, water filtration systems, and they even designed their own city, using recycled materials. They also had the opportunity to build and programme their own robots using Lego Mindstorms, and they digitally re-designed Bristol in Minecraft sessions led by the  DETI Inspire Team at UWE Bristol.

The Club is aimed to be as accessible as possible, which is why it is run on a free, drop-in basis. There are also healthy snacks on offer alongside the activities, and the grown-ups can relax with a cup of tea or coffee, or choose to get involved in the activities themselves.

What’s next?

For the upcoming sessions the children will be building model boats which will be raced at the Bristol Harbour Festival on Saturday 16 July. Boat building is taking place on 16 of June and 7 July and supported by the My Future My Choice programme and Industry volunteers.

Lego Mindstorms will be making a comeback on 23 and 30 of June: instructed by UWE Engineering students, the children will learn how to build and programme Lego robots.

There are also plans for wind turbine building, though the exact dates are still to be confirmed.

The last STEM Club session of this term is planned for Thursday 14 July, and then the Club will pause for the summer holidays, with a return planned in September, for the start of the new school year.

For updates check the Old Library Facebook page or email hello@theoldlibrary.org.uk should you have any questions.

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.

English Literature and the Climate Crisis: Teaching Climate Literature to Young Adults

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As society responds to the changing climate, English literature provides useful and critical insights into the challenges we face, as well as helping to build resilience and activism. At Cop26 in November 2021, the education secretary Nadhim Zahawi promised to “put climate change at the heart of education.” To turn this promise into a reality, then climate change should be taught across the curriculum, from the Humanities to STEM.

This event, designed and led by UWE English Literature staff Dr Ann Alston and Dr Sarah Robertson, is for key stage 3 English teachers. It will explore how English literature can be more fully utilised as a vital tool in generating climate change awareness and for coping with climate anxiety. At the event, Dr Ann Alston will deliver a talk on climate change in young adult fiction, and Dr Sarah Robertson will present on approaches to teaching climate literature. The talks will be followed by a roundtable discussion where participants can share their thoughts on teaching climate change through English, exploring the challenges and benefits of such an approach.

The event will take place on Saturday 26 March, from 11:00-14:00 on Frenchay Campus. For more information and/or to book a place, please email Sarah.Robertson@uwe.ac.uk

UWE Bristol launch Skills for Clean Growth programme for SMEs in the West of England

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The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), in collaboration with NatWest and West of England Combined Authority (WECA), has announced its launch of the Skills for Clean Growth (SCG) programme in January 2022.

SCG is a free business support programme for SMEs in the West of England to help drive the region’s ambitions for clean and inclusive growth, as part of the Workforce for the Future programme.

The programme, funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), will provide the skills and workforce development needed to support businesses in their transition to a low carbon economy.

This includes access to a range of skills development, training and CPD – including the leadership skills needed to build a clean growth strategy; and the knowledge and tools to achieve sustainability.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for support, applicants must have a business presence in the West of England (Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset) and be a small or medium sized enterprise (SME) with less than 250 employees.

Registrations

The SCG programme is accepting registrations from SMEs now!

If you are interested in registering, please apply via the SCG website here where key information is outlined. Please select the ‘Apply now’ button where you will be asked to fill out some details about your company and the support you are looking for on a registration form.

A member of the UWE Bristol team will then be in touch with you to arrange an initial discussion around the programme and any of your needs. If you have any further queries in the meantime, please contact us via cleangrowth@uwe.ac.uk and one of the team will get back to you.

Workforce for the Future

UWE Bristol is delivering Workforce for the Future on behalf of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) in collaboration with other partners.

Alongside the SCG programme, SMEs can access other support from expert partners. Please visit the West of England Combined Authority Growth Hub to find out more.

UWE Bristol deliver successful suite of courses on Air Quality

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For the last 10 years, the Air Quality Management Resource Centre (AQMRC) at UWE Bristol have delivered a suite of successful courses on the topic Air Quality.

This year, the team were given extra resource to develop online materials to provide a distance learning offer which has proved really successful.

The courses offered included:

Delivered with a mixture of self-learning and either online or face-to-face delivery, the courses provided attendees with an opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills in the area of Air Quality. The courses were attended primarily by local authorities, consultancies, government agencies and regulatory bodies, and students and are IAQM-accredited.

Accreditations and Partners:

On these courses, delegates cover the basics of air quality management, including what causes air pollution and its effects, before looking at monitoring and modelling techniques using ADMS-Roads. They also learn about role of planning in air quality and explore how air pollution can be tackled through technical and non-technical measures.

The courses align with the University’s commitment to sustainability.

Course lead and Associate Professor for Clean Air, Jo Barnes commented on the success of the courses:

“Our IAQM-accredited Air Quality CPD short courses, underpinned by our research and teaching, aim to provide a comprehensive overview to enable those with little or no knowledge on the subject, to those with years of experience, the tools and ability to apply their learning in their workplaces. The combination of extensive access to online materials provided in advance, the live presentation and interactivity of the practical sessions, really bring this subject to life and gives delegates the chance to also learn from each other.”

Course attendee Amelia Rivers, Environmental Health Officer commented:

“The learning I will apply back at work will be the importance of monitoring air quality when looking at planning applications and really think about the potential effects on air quality the proposed application can have.”

The next set of courses will run on campus from 16 – 20 May 2022.

Email Professional.FET@uwe.ac.uk to find out more

UWE Bristol Academic Spotlight: Dr Patrick Crogan

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Patrick Crogan is Associate Professor of Digital Cultures at UWE Bristol where he teaches and researches in media, technology and culture. Originally from Australia, he completed a doctorate at the University of Sydney and taught at a number of institutions in Australia before coming to the UK.

He has worked at UWE Bristol since 2008, where he supports the Media Communications degree programme. He is also a founding member of UWE Bristol’s Digital Cultures Research Centre, a collaborative network focussing on practical approaches to responsible technological futures.

Patrick’s work specifically highlights the link between digital media making and theory. He works in both conventional ‘academic’ and practice-based modes, working with creative makers, an approach that he says keeps him “’fresh’ and ‘honest’”.

Area of expertise

Automation and AI:

Patrick was one of the UWE Bristol-led, AHRC-funded South West Creative Technology Network’s Automation Fellows in 2019-2020. He worked with other Fellows on the future of creative uses of AI and automation. Before that, Patrick was co-investigator on the AHRC Automation Anxiety Research Network (2017-18) which explored innovative methods by which the humanities might address contemporary cultural anxiety about new forms of automation.  He also works on military drone developments and the future of AI and automation in military and civilian circles. In addition to this, he is a collaborator and research lead on the I am Echoborg​ project. Led by colleague and interactive experience designer, Rik Lander, this interactive show challenges the audience to discover the best possible outcome for the relationship between humans and intelligent machines.

Video games and digital culture: 

Patrick’s 2011 book Gameplay Mode critically examines what videogames can tell us about the relations between war and computer-based technoculture. 

He also ran the Creative Territories AHRC Video games research network (2014-15). Its major report The Good Hubbing Guide outlines its major findings and recommendations about independent game maker colocation. 

Bernard Stiegler: 

Patrick’s work is strongly influenced by Bernard Stiegler, a French technology and media philosopher who argued that individuals and society as a whole are increasingly shaped by algorithms and automated systems, driven by economic rather than human interests.  

Patrick has written several pieces on Stiegler’s work’s relevance to film, media and digital cultural theory and translated some of his writings into English. He also guest edited a special issue of the journal Cultural Politics on Stiegler. He is currently working on a book about the philosopher’s relevance to digital media and cultural studies.

Fully Funded Inclusive Digital Skills Bootcamps

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Inclusive Digital Bootcamps will help you to secure new or better Digital Employment and are free to register for individuals based in the West of England. Inclusive digital skills bootcamps are delivered by UWE Bristol as part of the Digital Skills Investment Programme

Data Science & AI

Who is it for?

  • 19 – 25-year-olds*
  • Women*

Delivered mainly online with a few sessions at Frenchay Campus, BS16 1QY

*Anyone can still apply to take part, but priority access is given to those who meet one (or more) of the above criteria.

What will I learn?

  • Mathematics and computer programming
  • Data science fundamentals
  • Software development
  • Machine Learning & AI approaches

When does it start?

This free course is running twice with two different cohorts, starting in late November 2021 and February 2022

  • 17-weeks
  • 8-hours scheduled learning per-week plus self-study

UX Design

Who is it for?

  • Those with living with health conditions, learning difficulties or impairments*

*Anyone can still apply to take part, but priority access is given to those who meet one (or more) of the above criteria.

Delivered mainly online with a few sessions at Frenchay Campus, BS16 1QY

What will I learn?

  • Learn advanced aspects of UX design for digital platforms
  • Responsive design for smart phones and robots
  • Specialised support to access ‘Disability Confident’ employment
  • Understand UX design trends for a range of platforms

When does it start?


This free course begins in January 2022

  • 13-weeks
  • 8-hours scheduled learning per-week plus self-study

More information:

Employability Support

Each bootcamp has an embedded industry project element. This will allow you to:

  • Build and showcase your higher-level skills to potential employers
  • Implementing your learning in real-world scenarios

Mentoring

Throughout the bootcamps, you will be paired with an industry mentor to complement your learning and open up doors to future employment opportunities.

There will also be opportunities to access specific mentoring support if you are from an underrepresented group within the digital industry.

Job Preparation

Each of the bootcamps will finish with a 2-week ‘Preparation for Employment Module’.You will be provided with a range of in-person and online support tools to help you secure higher-level employed roles.

Support includes:

  • CV & Cover letter writing
  • Interview preparation
  • Introductions to relevant employers

Contact

If you would like to speak to a member of the team before registering your interest, email digitalworkforce@uwe.ac.uk and we will be happy to help.

Vacancies – Green Skills for Jobs and Entrepreneurship

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7-month secondment opportunity

Green Skills for Jobs and Entrepreneurship (Green Skills) is a new 7-month project – led by UWE Bristol in partnership with NatWest Bank and Black South West Network (BSWN) – funded by the Government’s Community Renewal Fund.

Launching in January 2022, this project will address the skills shortages needed to deliver the West of England’s net zero ambitions by providing training, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for young people. The Project will encourage participation from Black British and British Asian heritage young people, in recognition of the employment gap that exists for black graduates and inspired by the #10000BlackInterns initiative.

A major legacy of the Project will be a Green Skills for Jobs and Entrepreneurship Hub, hosted on an online platform and accessible to the wider West of England skills, innovation and enterprise ecosystem.

UWE Bristol are looking to recruit 5 roles to support this project. These roles will be 7 month fixed term contracts, with an immediate start in January 2022. We would welcome applicants from private and public sector organisations as a secondment opportunity.

We are looking for:

  • Project Manager
  • Partnerships Manager
  • Mentor and Cohort Manager
  • Project Officer
  • Finance Officer

Project Manager

We are looking for a confident and experienced Project Manager to coordinate project activity and design an 8-week green skills programme, co-delivered by the Project’s partners and external consultants. You will line manage and coordinate the activity of the Green Skills Cohort Manager (providing mentoring and coaching to young people) and Green Skills Partnerships Manager (developing and managing partnerships with SMEs and employers for green internships).

Project Manager vacancy

Partnerships Manager

We are looking for a dynamic and experienced business Partnerships Manager who will be responsible for promoting the project to local employers and securing internship placements for young people. You will co-ordinate and deliver an employer and ‘pitch’ events where young people can find out more about internship opportunities, further training, and incubation support.

Partnership Manager vacancy

Mentor and Cohort Manager

We are looking for an enthusiastic and experienced Mentor and Cohort Manager to provide mentoring and coaching to 5 cohorts of young people and be responsible for ensuring that all participants have access to the information and learning support they need. You will hold regular 1:1s with each young person during their 8 weeks of study and will provide additional support once participants have moved on to any internship, incubation or further training activity.

Mentor and Cohort Manager vacancy

Project Officer

We are looking for a clear communicator with an excellent eye for detail, who is able to offer exceptional customer service to all of the project stakeholders, whilst ensuring compliance within funding regulations. You will need to enjoy solving problems quickly and implementing these solutions across the project.

Project Officer vacancy

Finance Officer

We are looking for someone who is finacially minded, has an excellent eye for detail and who is able to offer exceptional customer service to all of the project stakeholders. You will need to oversee the project budget, handle day to day financial transactions, maintain accurate expenditure records and project forecasts.

Finance Officer vacancy

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