The Royal Academy of Engineering has today revealed this year’s finalists for the 2016 MacRobert Award, renowned for spotting the ‘next big thing’ in technology since it was established in 1969. 

Follow the MacRobert Award on Twitter: @RAEngMacRobert

Every year, the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award is presented to the engineers behind the UK’s most exciting engineering innovation. This year’s finalists are: Blatchford for the development of the world’s most intelligent prosthetic limb; Jaguar Land Rover for the world-class innovation behind the company’s decision to design and manufacture its own engines for the first time; and Siemens Magnet Technology for making a step-change in MRI technology that could enable earlier diagnosis of a range of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and improve drug development. 

The three finalists are competing for a gold medal and a £50,000 cash prize. The 2016 winner will be revealed at the Academy Awards Dinner at the Tower of London on 23 June, in front of an audience of top engineers and business leaders from some of the UK’s cutting-edge engineering companies.

Many previous MacRobert Award-winning technologies are now ubiquitous in modern technology, transport and healthcare. The very first award 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.

MacRobert Award winners are chosen by a panel of Fellows of the Academy, who deploy the most comprehensive award selection process in the UK engineering sector.


Global leader in prosthetics Blatchford has developed the first ever prosthetic limb with integrated robotic control of the knee and foot; a system in which the parts ‘talk’ to each other so that the limb can adapt automatically to different conditions. Where previously lower leg prosthetics wearers have had to plan their days meticulously according to the limitations of terrain they can tackle, the smart robotics in the Linx Limb system constantly monitor and adapt to the wearer's movements and the environment, giving users much greater confidence and freedom.

2016 finalist: Blatchford

 

Jaguar Land Rover, the UK’s largest automotive manufacturer, has been nominated in recognition of the world-class innovation behind the company’s decision to design and manufacture its own engines for the first time. Starting with little more than a blank sheet of paper and an empty field, the Jaguar Land Rover team has developed an entire suite of world-leading engines, designed and manufactured in Britain, that combine almost 200 innovative ideas. These engines meet the growing demand for lower fuel consumption and running cost without comprising performance and the driver experience, as well as delivering commercial robustness for the company now and into the future.

2016 finalist: Jaguar Land Rover

 

Siemens Magnet Technology (SMT) has developed a ground breaking 7 Tesla (7T) magnet that will enable many more people worldwide to access high resolution MRI scanning. Such high quality scanning has the potential to provide earlier diagnoses for neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis. The Magnetom Terra could also assist in drug development, and could be used to help develop treatments for early stage diseases and enable monitoring of the efficacy of existing treatments.

2016 finalist: Siemens Magnet Technology


Dame Sue Ion DBE FREng, Chair of the MacRobert Award judging panel, said: “It’s often said that Britain doesn’t make anything anymore, but these three companies are proof that the opposite is true, and testament to the world-leading engineering innovation that happens here in the UK. Each of this year’s finalists has taken a different approach to innovation – from sustained incremental improvements to starting from scratch – each resulting in technologies that will have a positive impact on millions of people and bolster the UK economy.

“There is currently a big demand for all aspects of engineering talent, but the pipeline of young people pursuing engineering careers continues to fall short. To meet demand it is vital that we encourage more young people to pursue engineering as a career. Role models and high-profile prizes such as the MacRobert Award are hugely important in showing the opportunities the sector offers.”

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, the award is presented and run by the Royal Academy of Engineering, with support from the Worshipful Company of Engineers.

    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 for televisions and smart phones. In 2014 the Award was given to Cobalt Light Systems, which pioneered a technique to determine the chemical composition of materials in containers and behind a range of other barriers including skin, for use in airport scanners and medical diagnostics.

    Last year’s winner was Edinburgh-based Artemis Intelligent Power, which has pioneered a new Digital Displacement power system that is transforming the viability of offshore wind power and low carbon buses and trains. Judges described Artemis’ technology as achieving “a technical advance of global importance” in energy systems. Since winning the award, the company has gone from strength to strength, with two 7MW offshore turbines, including the world’s largest floating offshore turbine, now generating power into the UK and Japanese grids. The organisation continues to push its technology into new application areas, including trains and off-highway vehicles such as those used in the construction industry.

    The MacRobert Award

    The 2016 MacRobert Award judges are:
    - Dr Dame Sue Ion DBE FREng (Chair)
    Consultant; Chair, Nuclear Innovation Research Advisory Board
    - John Baxter CBE FREng FRSE
    Chair, Advanced Nuclear Research Centre (ANRC), University of Strathclyde; formerly Group Head of Engineering, BP International Ltd
    - Nick Cooper FREng
    Director, JN Cooper & Partners Ltd
    - Keith Davis
    Chairman, The MacRobert Trust
    - Professor David Delpy CBE FREng FRS FMedSci
    Chairman, Defence Scientific Advisory Council
    - Dr Andrew Herbert OBE FREng
    Formerly Chairman, Microsoft Research EMEA; Emeritus Fellow, Wolfson College, Cambridge
    - Professor Gordon Masterton OBE FREng FRSE
    Chair of Future Infrastructure, School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh; formerly Vice President, Jacobs Engineering
    - Peter Saraga CBE FREng
    Chairman of the Advisory Board, Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme
    - Dr Frances Saunders CB FREng
    Immediate Past President, Institute of Physics; 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:
    - Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
    - Address the engineering skills crisis
    - Position engineering at the heart of society
    - Lead the profession

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