Winner of Dragon's Den style challenge for researchers with entrepreneurial flair

The University of Manchester has won the top award in EPSRC’s first Knowledge Transfer Challenge, which looks at innovative approaches to turning today’s research into tomorrow’s products and services.

Congratulating the winners, Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, said:

"The high calibre of the five finalists shows the tremendous strength of UK research in engineering and the physical sciences. The UK has a rich history in innovation and discovery in these areas and it's great to see so many researchers continuing this trend.

For research to be truly useful, it needs to be turned into the products and services that we will need in the future - these awards will support this process. The winners have a proven track record in taking their research all the way through to developing viable businesses, which is exactly the kind of work we want to encourage.

Boosting innovation is key to helping us to create the products and services to benefit our economy and society in years to come."

The presentation took place at the Institution of Civil Engineers at Westminster, London (on Tuesday 21st November).

The research work of the five finalists ranges from dealing with mine water pollution to innovative wound care.

With almost a million pounds in prizes at stake the competitors had to convince the judging panel, in a Dragon’s Den style approach, that they are offering the best investment for the prize money. The five finalists already have a strong record in knowledge transfer activity, where their research has been transformed into a business venture. They also had to show the panel that they have innovative ideas for undertaking future knowledge transfer activity.

The winner and their KT track record:

University of Manchester
Major advances in getting different computer systems to talk to each other

The four runners up and their KT track record:

Aston University
Improving the effectiveness and cutting the cost of wound care

University of Edinburgh
Spearheading innovation in electronics – from iPod components to low cost sensors for cameras

University of Leeds
State of the art mobility aids to better detection of counterfeit banknotes

Newcastle University
Tackling pollution legacies at disused mines


(Details on their knowledge transfer work and competition bids are available from the EPSRC Press Office, see contact details below).

Notes for Editors:

The panel of judges:

Lord Alec Broers, Chair, House of Lords Select Committee for Science and Technology
Dr Catherine Beech, DTI Technology Strategy Board and Founding Partner, Cambridge Gateway Fund
Dr David Clarke - Head of Technology Strategy at Rolls-Royce, Chair of EPSRC User Panel
Professor Peter Grindrod - President of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications
Dr Randal Richards, Director of Research and Innovation at EPSRC

This is the first EPSRC KT Challenge. It was open to universities that are holders of an EPSRC Collaborative Training Account, awarded on the basis of a business plan.

The winner receives £500k and an EPSRC CASE award worth more than £60k. This provides money for a student to work in partnership with industry for three and a half years.

The four runners-up each receive £100k. All prize money will be used to pursue the knowledge transfer activity proposal that each finalist submitted for the competition.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. The EPSRC is investing £650 million this year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC also actively promotes public awareness of science and engineering. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. Website address for more information on EPSRC:

For more information:

Descriptions of the five finalists’ track record in KT and their innovative ideas for promoting future knowledge transfer activities are available from the EPSRC press office, plus a number of images, including a picture of the Manchester team being congratulated by Alistair Darling.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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