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27 June 2013

Four entrepreneurs receive Silver Medals for outstanding commercial success

Four entrepreneurs responsible for an all-terrain wheelchair business, Emmy award-winning computer vision technology, pioneering transport planning projects and the Raspberry Pi computer have been awarded Silver Medals.

The Royal Academy of Engineering celebrates the strength and diversity of UK engineering with the presentation of its coveted Silver Medal to four outstanding British engineers. Winners must have achieved significant commercial success in their fields and be recognised for advancing the cause of engineering in this country; a cause that is especially important to the Academy with the recent launch of its Enterprise Hub and Engineering for Growth campaign.

Tim Morgan, Dr Eben Upton, Elspeth Finch and Dr Andrew Fitzgibbon's exceptional achievements are detailed below. Their medals will be presented at the Academy's annual awards dinner at London's Battersea Power Station on 17 July.

The Silver Medalists are:

Tim Morgan

Entrepreneur Tim Morgan's patented systems for an all terrain wheelchair enables wheelchair users to enjoy the countryside independently.

For the final project of Tim's Masters in Innovation and Engineering Design from the University of Bath, which he completed in 2007, he identified the need for an all-terrain wheelchair that would allow users, to reach places previously inaccessible to wheelchairs. Securing financial backing and developing the project in his spare time while working as a Design Engineer at Bentley Motor Cars, Tim founded Mountain Trike Co in 2008.

Tim led the design, engineering and product development, manufacturing and commercialisation of the Mountain Trike All Terrain Manual Wheelchair, which is built in the UK. It has a patented innovative drive as well as inventive steering, braking and chassis systems and has won a number of accolades, including 'best new product' awards at mobility shows and a rare five star rating from Able, the UK's largest mobility magazine. Selling directly to customers, the wheelchair quickly attracted a following with the first deliveries beginning in August 2011. The company is cash positive and making a profit on a monthly basis with international sales accounting for nearly 40% of its overall turnover.

Dr Eben Upton

With a distinguished career in industry and academia, Dr Eben Upton conceived and co-designed the low-cost, credit card-sized computer, Raspberry Pi, to engage more children with computer science.

Eben has worked as a Software Engineer at IBM and a Visiting Researcher at Intel as well as founding two companies, Ideaworks3D and Podfun. He holds a PhD in computer science and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Cambridge, and held the post of Director of Studies in Computer Science at St John's College, Cambridge, for three years from 2004. He currently works as an SoC (system on chip) Architect at Broadcom, a large semiconductor company where he has led the development of next-generation high-end chips.

However, it is his work in establishing the Raspberry Pi Foundation for which he is primarily awarded a Silver Medal. Concerned by a dearth of upcoming computer scientists and inspired by Acorn's 1981 BBC Micro, Eben co-founded the Raspberry Pi Foundation to stimulate the teaching of basic computer science in schools. Having created a prototype using a Broadcom chip, he went on to co-design and develop the open architecture, low-cost single board computer, which runs the Linux operating system.

Now available in two versions, including the cheaper Model A that went on sale in February 2013, the Raspberry Pi launched in February 2012 with an accessible retail price of approximately £28. Both online stores selling the Model B Raspberry Pi sold out within a few minutes of launch, together taking over 100,000 pre-orders on day one, demonstrating demand and excitement from the public. Raspberry Pi has enjoyed immediate commercial success, selling 1.3 million units to date and seeing widespread use in education, hobbyist and developing world markets. It has won numerous awards and accolades, including T3 magazine's Innovation of the Year award.

Elspeth Finch

Entrepreneur Elspeth Finch has demonstrated business and technical leadership in over 100 transport planning projects in the UK and internationally.

Upon graduation as a chemist, Elspeth turned her attention to transport and planning, completing a Masters at the University of Newcastle. Following an early career as a researcher and lecturer at UCL, she co-founded the Intelligent Space Partnership, a transport consultancy focused on incorporating the needs of cyclists and pedestrians into city design and planning. She worked on successful projects including the Boston Downtown Crossing and Regent Street Strategy in London as well as 10 hospital developments and projects for the Home Office, TfL and DfT, demonstrating her ability to work across disciplines from engineering to human demographics with a high degree of technical complexity.

Atkins acquired the practice in 2007 and Elspeth led its integration into its transport planning business. Elspeth is now the Futures Director in Atkins' Water & Environment business. In this role she helps develop ideas that generate new revenue and create new markets for services. The business has sparked lively debate on topical issues such as how to feed people in the future. Elspeth is now working on a series of reports into aspects of infrastructure resilience, the first of which looks at the challenges for water in the UK to 2050.

She recently led a report on Future proofing cities in partnership with the Department of International Development and UCL, which addresses the risks to 129 cities from climate change, resource limitations and ecosystem damage. The value & impact of her work on smart cities has the potential to add significant value in the decades to come.

Dr Andrew Fitzgibbon

Andrew Fitzgibbon has been published widely in the field of computer vision and put his research into practice to bring about disruptive changes in the creative industries.

Andrew studied mathematics and computer science at University College Cork, and earned a Ph.D in artificial intelligence at the University of Edinburgh before enjoying a research career at Oxford University.His research combined mathematical insight and practical engineering, leading to papers on computer vision, machine learning, computer graphics and neuroscience, as well as commercial products that have made a real impact on the film and video games industries.

Andrew was the primary engineering influence in converting academic research at Oxford to a commercial product that became the Boujou system, released in 2000. Boujou automatically computes 3D camera motion from image sequences without the need for external references such as GPS or pre-positioned markers and has transformed film post production, winning a Primetime Emmy Engineering Award for its impact on the creation of complex visual effects. It is one of the leading products in its field and is now used on almost every major film with special effects.

Having joined Microsoft Research in 2005, Andrew Contributed his expertise to the development of the Machine Learning for human motion capture, a core technology driving Kinect for Xbox. He was instigator of the pipeline for generating data for the machine learning algorithm on a scale not seen before, which contributed to the team winning the Academy's MacRobert Award in 2011. Now Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, Andrew has delivered technology to two products that have been commercially successful and made disruptive changes in the creative industries.

ends

Notes for editors

1. The Silver Medal was established in 1994 to recognise an outstanding and demonstrated personal contribution to British engineering, which is resulting in successful market exploitation, by an engineer with less than 22 years in full time employment or equivalent on 1 January in year of award and who will normally be Chartered. Up to four medals may be awarded in any one year. For more information, including the names of last year's winners, please visit: http://www.raeng.org.uk/prizes/silver/.

2. Founded in 1976, the Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our Fellowship - comprising the UK's most eminent engineers - provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain's engineering community.

For more information please contact:

For more information please contact: Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0636;email: Jane Sutton

 

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