MacRobert Award celebrating innovation, commercial success and benefit to society

A highly sensitive camera that enables scientists to map a genome in only a few hours, hyper-accurate flood risk prediction and a cutting-edge concept car for the road have been shortlisted as finalists for the 2012 Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award.

The UK’s longest running and most prestigious engineering prize, the MacRobert Award, celebrates outstanding innovation and commercial success, attributes ably demonstrated by this year’s finalists: Andor Technology, JBA Consulting and Jaguar Land Rover.

The winner will be announced on 26 June at the Academy’s Awards Dinner and receive a gold medal plus £50,000 cash prize. Previous recipients include Microsoft Research, Cambridge, for its Xbox Kinect human motion-capture system and Arup’s National Aquatic Centre, better known as the ‘Water Cube’ – the dramatic centrepiece of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The 2012 finalists were selected from a long list of over 40 nominations, drawn from every field of contemporary engineering. Although the shortlisted innovations are very different from one another, the three share a similar ‘DNA’: they were developed in the UK to create ‘future facing’ products which have opened up new markets and achieved international sales success.

John Robinson FREng, Chair of the MacRobert Award judging panel, says:

“We have been bombarded with bad news about the economy in the last few years, so it is all the more encouraging to see three such innovative and successful companies doing so well in very different sectors. There is great engineering like this going on all over the UK and we are delighted to have three of the best examples shortlisted for the MacRobert Award this year.”

The 2012 finalists are:

Andor Technology’s Neo sCMOS scientific digital camera has delivered a step change in scientific imaging, allowing researchers to capture high resolution pictures of single cells and molecular structures with greater accuracy, less background ‘noise’ and at a faster frame rate (30 -100 images per second) than ever before. (The Neo project is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.)

With applications across the spectrum of medical, genetic and biomedical engineering disciplines, the Neo sCMOS is an enabling technology for super-resolution microscopy, which allows scientists to observe processes at a (20 nanometre) cellular or molecular level more easily and cost effectively. Among other things this will enable the sequencing of entire human genomes within a matter of hours.

A spinout from Queen’s University, Belfast, in 1989, Andor Technology now has 300 employees working in 16 offices worldwide, and exports its products to 10,000 customers in 55 countries. The company is looking to recruit a further 70 engineers and scientists as production at their Belfast manufacturing HQ ramps up.

Team members:

Gary Wilmot, Director of Engineering, Donal Denvir. Chief Technology Officer, Oliver Petersen, sCMOS Solutions Manager, Martin Catney R&D Manager and Ken Strang, Snr. Embedded Systems Engineer, all based at Andor in Belfast.

Media Contact: Victoria Gault, Marketing Communications Manager, Email:  Victoria Gault  02890 237126

The Range Rover Evoque from Land Rover has carved out an entirely new market segment with its striking concept-car design which still retains the ground clearance necessary for true all-terrain capability. In order to maintain the original concept’s low profile design, Jaguar Land Rover’s engineers packaged the under-floor components, the all new front and rear suspension systems, new chassis frame and 70L fuel tank with millimetre accuracy.

Safety and weight-saving technologies can be found throughout its bodyshell and chassis, including an advanced steel monocoque frame that is reinforced with ultrahigh-strength boron steel, which enables the Evoque to achieve a slim profile without compromising strength or safety.

The Range Rover Evoque is manufactured at JLR’s Halewood assembly plant on Merseyside. Its worldwide success has created or safeguarded over 30,000 jobs throughout the supply chain. The company recently announced £3Bn worth of contracts with more than 40 UK based suppliers, many of which are based in the North and Midlands – regions hard hit by the economic downturn.

Team members: Chief Programme Engineer - David Mitchell, Studio Director - David Saddington, Vehicle Engineering Manager - Pete Cockle, Body Engineering Manager - Brian Lidgard, Principal Chassis Engineer - Ian Hulme, All based at Jaguar Land Rover, Coventry.

Media contact: Lucy Reynolds, LR UK PR Manager, Email:  Lucy Reynolds  07801 699928

JBA Consulting’s flood risk modelling system, JFlow, has become, in just four years, an essential tool for the UK’s insurance industry. Following devastating flooding in Thailand last year, JBA was able to respond by using JFlow to produce flood maps of the whole country within four months.

Flood damage in England alone costs £1 billion annually, so it is crucial that engineers and insurers have the tools to model potential flood risks accurately at both a national and local, household, level.

JBA’s JFlow technology uses unique algorithms to produce some of the world’s most detailed 2D hydrodynamic maps on a national scale. In the UK, these are used by national and local government agencies, the top five insurance companies (accounting for 60% of the data), and civil engineering firms to help understand the hydrology, plan flood defences, set premiums and develop rescue plans.

Ireland, France, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Belgium, Luxembourg and India are among the countries using the JFlow product.

Producing detailed maps of this nature usually demands immense processing power, only available from extremely expensive super-computers. JBA Consulting’s key innovation was to create software that could run on ‘off the shelf’ graphics cards and processors, which could be easily and cost-effectively up-scaled according to demand. Yorkshire-based JBA now operates the world’s largest dedicated flood modelling grid, using, in essence, a super-computer made up of over 50,000 processor cores.

Team members: Chief Scientist - Dr Rob Lamb, Director – Simon Waller, Principal Analyst – Dr Amanda Crossley, Technical Director – Dr Kate Bradbrook, all based at JBA Consulting in Skipton, North Yorkshire.

Media contact: Alison Ford, Marketing Manager, Email:  Alison Ford  01756 799919

Notes for editors

  1. First presented in 1969, the MacRobert Award is widely regarded as the most coveted in the industry. Founded by the MacRobert Trusts, the Award is now presented by the Royal Academy of Engineering after a prize fund was established with donations from the MacRobert Trusts, the Academy and British industry.
    The MacRobert Award
    2012 Video
  2. 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 their light emitting polymer displays, which are now used extensively in televisions and smart phones. Last year’s winner, Microsoft Research, won the prize for the human motion capture system used in Kinect for Xbox 360.
  3. The judging panel for the MacRobert Award 2012 is as follows:

    John Robinson FREng (Chair)
    Previously Chairman and Chief Executive of Smith & Nephew plc, Chairman of George Wimpey plc, Railtrack plc, Low and Bonar plc, UK Coal plc and Consort Medical plc. Operating Partner, Duke Street Capital

    Keith Davis (Trustee, TheMacRobert Trust)
    Formerly Director, Strategy & Planning, The Royal Academy of Engineering

    Professor Nicholas Cumpsty FREng
    Emeritus Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College London

    Professor Richard Darton OBE FREng
    Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford

    Professor Sir Richard Friend FREng FRS
    Cavendish Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge; Director Chief Scientist, Plastic Logic Ltd; Chief Scientist, Cambridge Display Technology Ltd

    Professor Ian Liddell CBE FREng
    Consultant, Buro Happold Consulting Engineers, Consultant, W I Liddell Engineering Ltd

    Professor Adrian Long OBE FREng
    Formerly Dean of the faculty of Engineering at Queen's University, Belfast and President of the ICE 2002/03

    Professor RichardParry-Jones CBE FREng
    Chairman Designate, Network Rail

    Professor Peter Selway FREng
    Formerly Director of Operations for Nortel, Research Fellow, Imperial College London

    Ian Shott CBE FREng
    Director, Shott Consulting Ltd

    Dr Martyn Thomas CBE FREng
    Director, Martyn Thomas Associates Ltd
  4. 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.

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