World-first ‘smart’ fungal building to be developed by UWE academics

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A revolutionary new type of intelligent building made with green construction materials and capable of adaptively reacting to changes in light, temperature and air pollutants is being developed by UWE Bristol academics in collaboration with partners from Denmark (Centre for Information Technology and Architecture), Italy (MOGU) and the Netherlands (Utrecht University).

Researchers from the UWE Bristol’s Centre of Unconventional Computing will lead 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.

Using a novel bio-electric system developed by scientists, living fungi grown inside the building’s framework structure will act as a sensor detecting changes in light, pollutants and temperature, and computers will analyse the information. When particular changes are recognised, the system will have the potential to respond adaptively by controlling connected devices such as lights and heaters.

UWE Bristol computer scientists will work with European experts in architecture, biophysics and mycology on the project, which has been heralded as a potential breakthrough for the building industry due to its eco-friendly credentials. By using fungi as an integrated structural and computational substrate, buildings would have low production and running costs, embedded artificial intelligence, and could be returned to nature when no longer in use.

The three-year FUNGAR (Fungal Architectures) project will mark the first time intelligent biological substances have been used as construction materials. It will see living organisms and computing function integrated into designing and building.

Professor Andrew Adamatzky, Director of the Centre of Unconventional Computing, said: “Our overarching goal is to design and bio-manufacture a sensing and computing building with fungi. This is a radically new approach as it proposes to use a real living organism in the material structure, which is also tuned to perform computation.

“If successful, the building as a whole will be able to recognise lighting levels, chemicals in the environment, the presence of people, and will respond to touch. Acting as a massively-parallel computer, the building will control devices depending on the environmental conditions. For example, a warning light could be lit if high levels of air pollution were detected or inhabitants could be warned about high or low temperatures. It’s our vision for an alternative version of a smart home.

“This type of building would be ecologically-friendly as it will be made from natural materials, and will be lightweight, waterproof and recyclable when it reaches the end of its life.”

Professor Adamatzky discovered fungi could be used as a type of functional computer following a studyat UWE Bristol three years ago. He found that the organism reacts to external stimuli such changes in lighting conditions and temperature with spikes of electrical activity.

Fungi is already used as a building material in Europe but the existing approach involves growing the organism to the shape of bricks or blocks, before drying it out to harden. However, fungi have never before been used in live form in self-growing construction. For the FUNGAR project, the fungi will be combined with nanoparticles and polymers to make mycelium-based electronics. This material will then be grown inside the building’s triaxial woven structure. The full-scale fungal building will be constructed in Denmark and Italy, with a smaller scale version being created at UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus.

The academic partners in the project are the Centre for Information Technology and Architecture in Denmark and Utrecht Universityin Holland. The industry partner is MOGU, a mycelium-based technologies company based in Italy. Originally appeared on the UWE website.

UWE Bristol secure new Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Reusaworld

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UWE Bristol Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) team have secured another KTP with Reusaworld and the Centre for Machine Vision. The new KTP means that UWE Bristol now has 11 live KTPs. The KTP which is based in Gloucester will see innovative changes to the world of second hand books.

This KTP will be with Reuseabook, a part of Reusaworld.

Reuseabook was founded in 2008 by Rob Hollier and Ami Hollier with the following mission: NEVER to allow a single book to go to landfill.

Strong believers in conscientious capitalism, they wanted to create an earth-friendly sustainable business model while helping others. After much hard work what emerged was the Reuseaworld group: an award-winning, ethical, environmentally-friendly and technology-savvy enterprise that uses the internet to sell second-hand books worldwide.

Working with the Centre for Machine Vision, the aim of the 30 month KTP is to develop innovative machine vision techniques and deep learning methodologies to test the viability of data outputs of a 3D Book Vision System and its application to the book grading process. Ultimately, increasing the speed and quality of inbound book sorting, in-house data management and book cataloguing.

The UWE Lead for the KTP is Professor Lyndon Smith and the Academic Supervisor is Dr Abdul Farooq, who are both part of the Centre for Machine Vision at UWE Bristol. The Centre for Machine Vision is part of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL). They solve real-world practical computer vision problems. Their  particular excellence lies in three-dimensional reconstruction and surface inspection.

Innovate UK scored the proposal very highly (4th out of 60 applications) so congratulations to all involved!

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.

New Start-up visa for international students to develop businesses of the future

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​The government’s new Start-up visa has been launched which allows international graduates to apply for a two-year visa to remain in the UK and develop a start-up business.

As part of UWE Bristol’s ambition to support innovation and enterprise, we are now inviting applications from UWE Bristol international graduates who have a high-tech, high-growth business idea to apply for a Start-up visa and benefit from using the free desk space and business support available from Launch Space.

Set in the heart of the University’s Enterprise Zone, Launch Space has supported over 50 businesses who have raised funds of £1.8 million and employing more than 90 people.

With connections in the regional start up, academic, and business communities, it’s a great place to kick off a start-up.

Students coming to the end of their studies apply to Launch Space which assesses the business proposal and viability.

Approved start-ups are then supported by the Immigration Team to make a visa application.

The specific support for students is

  • 12 month free incubation space
  • Business support from experienced business advisors
  • Connections into the University community of academics and students, and the wider regional business community

After their first year of support people they will then have a further 12 months to develop their business further.

The University can put forward a maximum of 20 students per year although all business ideas are scrutinised in the Launch Space application process so not every applicant is accepted.

You can find out more about the opportunities available to international graduates by applying for a Start-up visa on the UWE Bristol website.

You can also contact the Immigration Advice Team, email immigrationadvice@uwe.ac.uk or visit the immigration hub in 2P4, Frenchay campus Monday to Thursday 10:30-12:00 / 14:00-15:30 and Friday 10:30-12:00.

Launch Space will receive up to £2,000,000 of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is the programme’s Managing Authority. Established by the European Union, the ERDF helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects that support innovation, businesses, job creation and local community regeneration.

Scale Up 4 Growth Initiative wins national award

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Scale Up 4 Growth (S4G) has won best External Knowledge Exchange (KE) Initiative of the Year at the PraxisAuril KE Awards 2019.

The KE Awards, organised by PraxisAuril – the UK’s world-leading professional association for Knowledge Exchange (KE) practitioners – and sponsored by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), celebrate the contribution of KE professionals in enabling and facilitating the societal and economic impact of research.

S4G is an innovative, £2.7m programme, designed by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol)’s Research, Business and Innovation (RBI) team and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The programme is delivered by the unique S4G Partnership of UWE Bristol (lead), NatWest’s Entrepreneur Accelerator and Corporate and Commercial Banking Teams, and Foot Anstey LLP

The S4G team beat the University of Manchester for their Manchester Law and Technology Initiative (MLaTI) and the University of Kent for their Employability Points Scheme to claim the prize.

Tracey John, Director of Research Business and Innovation (RBI) at UWE Bristol said:

“We are extremely proud of the S4G programme, the valued Partnership we have created with NatWest and Foot Anstey, and our impact on the West of England’s scaling businesses in the regional economy.”

Nathan Peacey, Partner at Foot Anstey commented:

“It’s fantastic to see Scale Up 4 Growth recognised as a standout example of university and business working in partnership. We have a huge amount to gain by working with exciting growth businesses and we have been delighted to support them on this journey through sharing our expertise and experience. This collaboration is another great example of how businesses are successfully working together to raise the South West’s profile as being at the forefront of tech and innovation and build the regional economy.”

Matt Hatcher, NatWest Director of Corporate and Commercial Coverage, South West, said:

“As a bank we’re hugely committed to supporting the growth of entrepreneurism in the region and helping more start-up and scale-up businesses achieve success. Collaboration and innovation is key, which is why we are delighted with the success of the S4G scheme. It is making a real impact and along with our Entrepreneur Accelerator Hub in Bristol, helping support the rich vein of talent we have in the West of England achieve national and international success.”

The S4G team collecting their award

Olly Reid, Scale Acceleration Manager at NatWest, added:

Through our accelerator programme we’re working with hundreds of exciting start-up and scale-up businesses from across the region in multiple sectors. The cross-team collaboration involved with working with the team at UWE and our corporate and commercial team at NatWest has allowed us to develop a real exciting programme that is crucially expanding the network of opportunities available to local businesses. This is where the success of the S4G programme lies and why we hope more local entrepreneurs will benefit in the years ahead.”

S4G is a 3-year, free programme of support for businesses in the West of England (WoE) that are looking to grow, expand and scale. It includes:

  • Two-day ‘business growth’ workshops, delivered across the WoE by leading Bristol Business School academics and industry experts from the S4G Partnership
  • Grants of £10k–40k for projects that help businesses address barriers to growth

S4G is an excellent example of an External KE Initiative that brings together the very best in university-business partnership working, sharing knowledge and expertise from academia and industry with growing businesses, to benefit the regional economy.

Since its launch in November 2018, over 300 businesses have registered to be part of the S4G network and benefit from the programme.

S4G is the latest in a series of projects led by UWE Bristol to support innovative high growth businesses in the West of England. These projects have supported 100’s of businesses across the region and created over 1,000 new jobs. NatWest’s Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme has supported nearly 900 businesses from the South West since it opened in Bristol in 2015. Applications are now open for its latest intake.

Congratulations to the Scale Up 4 Growth team. You can find out more about S4G here

Knowledge Transfer Partnership graded ‘Outstanding’

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A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between UWE Bristol and Viper Innovations has been graded as “Outstanding” by Innovate UK.

Viper Innovations Ltd is an established provider of industry-leading products for integrity monitoring of electrical cabling in subsea oil and gas production.

At the start of the 18 month KTP, Viper’s business was in subsea oil and gas, but it recognised its technology had potential for other sectors. A new opportunity in rail highlighted the need for different models of engagement to drive forward technical innovation in new sectors. The original aim was to use UWE’s co-creative innovation expertise to establish an integrated user-led product innovation process, speeding up time to market and de-risking technical developments. Kim Mahoney, the Associate, brought outstanding marketing skills and experience and her proactive approach was a key element in the success of the project.

Overall, the KTP realised some significant achievements over a relatively short period, enabling an innovative SME to accelerate development of its CableGuardian product in collaboration with a large national operator, Network Rail, and many other partners. It has provided a clear route to grow Viper’s business through an effective diversification strategy. For the academics, it provided opportunities for research publications and extremely useful practitioner contacts. The Associate gained invaluable experience in both industry and academic fields, undertook a range of professional training and is taking up a new role in industry as well as a part-time Lecturer position at UWE.

“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 which would likely have not taken place without it. Consequently, Viper Innovations has taken a step change in its approach to product development, which ultimately ensures alignment to our clients’ needs, reduces our cost and time to market and provides a level of clarity in understanding of new market opportunity and how best to communicate the benefits of each product to each user.”

Max Nodder, Business Development Director at Viper Innovations

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.

Congratulations to all involved.

To find out more about KTP’s please visit our website.

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore attends the official launch of the Foundry Technology Affinity Space at UWE Bristol

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Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, attended the official launch of the Foundry Technology Affinity Space at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).

The Minister, who is also MP for Kingswood, met a number of university and digital industry representatives during the visit, including Professor Jane Harrington, UWE Bristol Deputy Vice-Chancellor; co-chairs of the Institute of Coding Jacqueline de Rojas, President of techUK and Professor Bernie Morley, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bath; and Dr Rachid Hourizi, Director of the Institute of Coding. The purpose of the visit was to hear more about this new facility, which is funded by the Institute of Coding and will equip students with vital digital skills and ensure they are ready for the workplace. This is a key part of the objectives of the Institute of Coding, a £40million project funded by the Office for Students and led by the University of Bath.

Developed through a research-led design process led by UWE Bristol Associate Professor Andy King, the industry-themed Foundry at UWE Bristol is intended as an ‘other space’ on campus, where students can build their professional identity through working with industry partners on paid projects that fit around their studies. Aside from being home to UWE Bristol’s Enterprise Studios, the Foundry will also be a digital event space, hosting a high-profile calendar of technology outreach and engagement events across cybersecurity, computer science, creative technologies and STEM subjects designed to widen participation around coding and digital skills.

Science and Innovation Minister Chris Skidmore said: “As we rely more on new technologies and cyber threats become more sophisticated, the Foundry Technology Affinity Space will provide the vital skills needed to meet the opportunities and address the challenges of the future. The impressive state-of-the-art facility with its cutting edge technology will introduce a range of innovative new courses for students, enabling them to go on and compete successfully in the global digital economy.

“This builds on our commitment to tackle this issue, and this government is funding projects to design out many forms of cyber threats to online and digitally enabled products and services through our modern Industrial Strategy.”

Professor Harrington said: “We were delighted to welcome Minister Skidmore to this fantastic new facility on our Frenchay campus alongside the Institute of Coding. The Foundry is a major investment that will connect our students with globally-renowned industry partners, and will give them invaluable insight into what digital skills and innovation the future workforce will need. Deep and meaningful collaboration with industry and the world of professional practice will hugely benefit our students not just during their degrees, but in their futures as they progress into the digital industry. I look forward to seeing what our students will create in this innovative new space.”

Dr Hourizi said: “The Institute of Coding is pleased to launch and support a new Foundry Technology Affinity Space, which will serve as a gateway for students to gain critical on-the-job experience through paid work with industry without disrupting their academic studies. With employers crying out for new candidates who are workplace-ready, and students seeking valuable experiences to bolster their CVs, this new facility will enable thousands of young people to begin the first step in their career.”

The Institute of Coding is a national consortium announced by the Prime Minister in January 2018 and UWE Bristol is a full member. To help fund its contribution to the Institute of Coding, UWE Bristol was awarded £1 million from a £20 million funding pot allocated by the Office for Students (formerly known as the Higher Education Funding Council for England -HEFCE) to improve the way universities train people for digital careers.

Launch Space graduate incubator recruiting now

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Have you graduated in the last three years in the UK and have a business idea you’d like to put into action?

Launch Space provides free desk space and business support for graduate-led, innovative and high-tech businesses at various stages on the start-up journey.

Launch Space is part of a wider entrepreneurial community based on our Frenchay Campus, housing the Future Space incubation facility and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory – making it a great environment for graduate start-ups to flourish.

In just 18 months, Launch Space has supported over 50 businesses, with over £1.8 million funds raised by its residents and employment created for more than 90 people.

Launch Space is now well established in the regional start-up community, and is recognised for its unique ability to connect start-ups with the support and collaboration of the wider university and business communities.

Find out more and apply today to grow your start-up business. Launch Space is supported by the ERDF.

If you have any questions, please get in touch via email: launchspace@uwe.ac.uk or call +44 (0)117 3286168.

Launch Space will receive up to £2,000,000 of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is the programme’s Managing Authority. Established by the European Union, the ERDF helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects that support innovation, businesses, job creation and local community regeneration.

National Apprenticeship Week

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UWE Bristol continues to establish itself as a leading degree apprenticeship provider in the region with increasing of number of programmes being offered. More and more employers are approaching us asking for advice and guidance on how to use their levy to support recruitment, and smaller companies are enquiring about progression opportunities for their staff through apprenticeships at degree and master’s level through the funding available.

As we’ve been celebrating National Apprenticeship Week, why don’t you listen to some of our apprentices and employers talk about their experience and the benefits of upskilling with degree apprenticeships?

We offer degree apprenticeships in a broad range of subject areas including business and management, engineering, health and sciences, IT and digital technology and surveying.

For a list of degree apprenticeships on offer at UWE Bristol visit www.uwe.ac.uk/degreeapprenticeships h

Scale Up For Growth (S4G): Scale up support for your business

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Scale Up For Growth (S4G) is a new programme offering grant funding and workshops to businesses in the West of England with ambitions to grow, expand and scale. £800,000 of funding is available with grants from £10,000 to £40,000 for businesses in the West of England that are looking to expand and scale. They can be used to fund 37.5% of growth projects or initiatives for businesses.

Deadline for grant applications: Midday, Thursday 7 March 2019

The grant scheme is open to businesses in any sector that want to grow and scale up their business. Applicants must be small or medium sized enterprises and based in Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset or South Gloucestershire.   

Businesses can also register to attend Business Growth Workshops – further information can be found on our website.   

The S4G programme is delivered by UWE Bristol, NatWest and Foot Anstey. S4G offers eligible businesses access to grants, training and expert support to help achieve their full potential, create jobs and overcome barriers to growth.

Register today www.scaleup4growth.co.uk

Linking iconic British writer Angela Carter to Bristol by way of an art exhibition

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It comes as no surprise that Dr Marie Mulvey-Roberts’ shelves house an abundance of books, given that she is a Professor in English Literature at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), and specialises in Gothic literature. Included in the works nestled on her bookshelf are many books by a star of contemporary British literature: Angela Carter.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Carter’s death and earlier in 2017, Mulvey-Roberts co-curated an exhibition at Bristol’s Royal West of England Academy (RWA) art gallery entitled ‘Strange Worlds: The Vision of Angela Carter.’ The exhibition proved extremely popular and highlighted through the display of a variety of art exhibits, Angela Carter’s links with Bristol.

“This was important because I wanted to identify Angela Carter with Bristol, as she is often seen as a London writer,” says Mulvey-Roberts. Carter’s most productive time as an author, says the Professor, was when she lived in Bristol for a decade in the 1960s, where she wrote best part of five of her nine books. Three of the novels are set in the city and it is still possible to visit sites frequented by characters appearing in Carter’s works.

PIC1

Co-curated by artist and writer Fiona Robinson, the exhibition featured film, illustrations from Carter’s books and paintings that related to Angela Carter’s ethos or writings. Other exhibits included historically significant works by William Holman Hunt, Paula Rego, Dame Laura Knight, Leonora Carrington and John Bellany, on loan from major national collections.

A Marc Chagall painting was borrowed from London’s Tate Gallery. The work, entitled The Blue Circus features a trapeze artist surrounded by animals. “Angela Carter said she wanted her writing to be like Chagall’s paintings as she writes visually,” says Mulvey-Roberts. “In her book The Nights at the Circus, there is a trapeze artist called Feathers who has real wings, so this painting seemed to evoke that.”
One of the particularly striking sculptures featured was The Banquet by Ana Maria Pacheco, depicting four dark-suited men around a dining table on which lies a nude man.

Impact

Critics have often described Angela Carter as one of Britain’s finest writers. The Times has ranked the novelist, short story writer and journalist tenth in their list of the 50 greatest writers since 1945. The Telegraph described her as “one of the most important writers at work in the English language.”

The three-month exhibition at the RWA was therefore crucially important to raise awareness about Carter. It had a lasting impact on visitors, of which there were over 11,000, and cemented recognition of her links to Bristol. Marie Mulvey-Roberts took part in a number of interviews for the media, including on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row show.

The exhibition also had a huge impact on the local community. School children came in to undertake creative writing exercises, inspired by the paintings. The exhibition also attracted young composers from the New Music in the South West (NMSW), a Bristol based non-profit organisation running a music and education project serving the south-west of England. The sixth formers attended the exhibition and wrote music, inspired from the works on display.

But Angela Carter’s influence is not limited to Bristol and the UK. The author still has a huge following around the world and interest in and awareness about her increased thanks to the exhibition.

Mulvey-Roberts has received many enquiries about Angela Carter from universities and art galleries around the world. She was invited to attend a special event at the Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies, based some 25km outside of Lisbon, where a banquet was prepared by students in gastronomy. “The university’s MA students in culinary design organised a gastronomic experience: a banquet around the theme of Angela Carter,” says Mulvey-Roberts.

As a result of the exhibition, the academic was also invited to the Universities of Lausanne and Bern in Switzerland, as well as the Light house Media Centre for an event organised by the University of Wolverhampton, where she gave presentations showcasing the Bristol exhibition. Her talks in Switzerland were arranged through Angela Carter scholar Professor Martine Hennard Dutheil de la Rochère, who is contributing to Mulvey-Roberts’s next book called The Arts of Angela Carter: A Cabinet of Curiosities.

Along with Charlotte Crofts, Associate Professor in Filmmaking and Caleb Sivyer, visiting lecturer in English at UWE Bristol, Mulvey-Roberts is founding an International Angela Carter Society, dedicated to the promotion of the study and appreciation of her work and life, which will involve a newsletter and bi-annual conferences.