Three UK companies have been revealed as the finalists for this year’s Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award.
Artemis Intelligent Power has been selected for its technology to unlock the power potential of wind turbines; Endomag has been chosen for its system that is improving the diagnosis of cancer spread in breast cancer patients; and Victrex for its creation of new materials to bring modern technology advances to life.
Synonymous with spotting the ‘next big thing’ in the technology sector, the MacRobert Award is the UK’s longest running national prize for engineering innovation. Since 1969, the Award has identified world-changing innovations with tangible societal benefit and proven commercial success.
Many previous winning technologies are now ubiquitous in modern medicine, transport and technology. The very first award in 1969 went to the Rolls-Royce Pegasus engine, used in the iconic Harrier jets, and in 1972 the judges recognised the extraordinary potential of the first CT scanner – seven years before its inventor Sir Godfrey Hounsfield received the Nobel Prize.
Last year’s winner, SME Cobalt Light Systems, won for the innovation behind an airport security liquid scanner that can now be found in over 65 airports throughout Europe. The same technology is also being used to detect counterfeit goods and analyse food.
This year’s three MacRobert Award finalists, who have each shown remarkable promise in their respective domains, are all competing for a gold medal and a £50,000 cash prize. The winner will be announced on 16 July 2015 at the Academy's annual awards dinner in London.
Edinburgh-based Artemis Intelligent Power has developed a digital hydraulic power system that unlocks the ability to generate much greater levels of power from offshore wind turbines. As well as dramatically improving power capacity, the smart, modular system has been designed to overcome the significant reliability issues associated with existing turbines. Artemis is already developing world-leading systems, dramatically improving turbine efficiency and with it the prospects for future exploitation of wind power.
Niall Caldwell, Artemis’s managing director, said: “By combining the intelligence of digital control with the robustness and low cost of hydraulic machines, the Artemis team of engineers has made a fundamental advance in the scale and efficiency of mechanical power transmission. Digital Displacement® technology will bring down the costs of generating renewable energy and reduce fuel use in transport and industry. Our business shares the mission of our parent company to be a manufacturer for the sustainability of the earth and humankind.”
Team members: Dr Niall Caldwell, Managing Director; Pierre Joly, Operations Director; Dr Win Rampen FREng, Chairman; Professor Stephen Salter FRSE, Non-Executive Director; Dr Uwe Stein, Chief Engineer.
Endomag is based in Cambridge and has pioneered a new breast cancer diagnostic tool that avoids the use of radioactive tracers in determining the spread of cancer through the lymphatic system. The cost and logistical challenges of relying on radioactive material have meant that sentinel lymph node biopsy – currently the best method of breast cancer staging – is only available to one in six patients globally, creating a ‘postcode lottery’ for effective diagnosis. The SentiMag probe developed by Endomag identifies sentinel lymph nodes for removal by detecting a magnetic, rather than radioactive, tracer signal.
Dr Eric Mayes, Chief Executive Officer of Endomag, said: “Endomag is extremely honoured by this recognition, both for the hard work of our founding team and how we have since translated this engineering innovation to meet the needs of so many patients.”
Team members: Professor Quentin Pankhurst, Founder; Simon Hattersley, Founder; Dr Audrius Brazdeikis, Founder; Dr Eric Mayes, Chief Executive Officer.
Blackpool-based Victrex has created the highest performing ultra-thin polymers (plastics) in the world. Initially enabling smartphone speakers and earbuds to produce high-quality sound without risk of failure, they could now be a key material for enabling the flexible electronics revolution. In forms up to 20 times thinner than a human hair, the PEEK polymer is already found in over a billion consumer electronic devices and is also used as a lightweight replacement for metal in aircraft, cars and medical implants.
John Grasmeder, Technical Director for Victrex plc, said: “Victrex is a world leader in high performance polymers and to be in the running for the MacRobert award is a real testament to the capability, innovation focus and performance of our people.
“Technical and manufacturing excellence are key pillars of our strategy. Being able to understand market needs and work closely with our customers in developing solutions to their challenges requires real technical and manufacturing know-how. APTIV film has been a success story for Victrex in recent years and we continue to explore opportunities in Electronics and across our other markets.”
Team members: Mike Percy, Global Technical Manager, APTIV; Kyri Christodoulou, Films Quality Improvement Manager; John Parkinson, Quality Support Engineer; Jason Li, Development Engineer.
The MacRobert Award is determined by a panel of 10 judges representing a broad spectrum of engineering expertise and each a leader in their field.
Dame Sue Ion DBE FREng, Chair of the MacRobert Award judging panel, said, “Each of this year’s finalists has demonstrated remarkable drive and determination to achieve technical advances that can make a considerable difference to many aspects of our lives. The variety and standard of engineering skills behind each innovation is testament to the UK’s strength in the sector.
“Innovative engineering is the key to our future growth in the UK and we will have to make increasing use of our knowledge and creative talent if we are to take advantage of this opportunity. These three companies are great examples of engineering for growth in action.”
Notes for Editors
1. About the MacRobert Award. First presented in 1969, the MacRobert Award is widely regarded as the most coveted in the industry. Founded by the MacRobert Trust and supported by the Worshipful Company of Engineers, the Award is now presented by the Royal Academy of Engineering after a prize fund was established with donations from the MacRobert Trust, the Academy and British industry. For more information, visit: www.raeng.org.uk/prizes/macrobert
Previous winners include EMI Ltd, who in 1972 developed the CT Scanner, a vital medical device that can now be found in almost every hospital in the developed world. In 2002 Cambridge Display Technologies won the MacRobert Award for its light emitting polymer displays, which are now used extensively in televisions and smart phones. The 2013 winner was software company RealVNC, which judges predicted could be a billion dollar company within five years.
The judging panel for the MacRobert Award 2015 is as follows:
Dr Dame Sue Ion DBE FREng (Chair) Consultant; Chair, Nuclear Innovation Research Advisory Board
John Baxter FREng FRSE Group Head of Engineering, BP International Ltd; Master, the Worshipful Company of Engineers
Nick Cooper FREng Director, JN Cooper & Partners Ltd
Keith Davis Chairman, The MacRobert Trust
Professor Sir Richard Friend FREng FRS Cavendish Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge
Dr Andrew Herbert OBE FREng Formerly Chairman, Microsoft Research EMEA; Emeritus Fellow, Wolfson College, Cambridge Visiting Professor, UCL
Dr Gordon Masterton OBE FREng FRSE Vice President, Jacobs Engineering; Deputy Chairman at Construction Industry Council
Peter Saraga CBE FREng Chairman of the Advisory Board, Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme
Dr Frances Saunders CB FREng President, Institute of Physics; Trustee, Engineering Development Trust; formerly Chief Executive, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL)
2. About the Royal Academy of Engineering
As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering.
We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.
We have four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; foster better education and skills; lead the profession; promote engineering at the heart of society.
For more information please contact:
Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T: 020 7766 0636;
E: Jane Sutton