University scoops $500K science and engineering prize

The University of Manchester has beaten off fierce competition from dozens of major universities across the UK to scoop $500,000 in a Dragon's Den-style contest.

The University was unveiled as the winner of the inaugural Knowledge Transfer (KT) Challenge at a special event in London on Tuesday 21 November 2006,

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) launched the KT Challenge earlier this year to celebrate outstanding examples of knowledge transfer from the academic world into industry and the public sector, and also to encourage further innovation and development in this field.

The entry from the University's Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences made the five-strong shortlist after detailing the success of Transitive Ltd.

It was founded in 2000 by long-standing Computer Sciences lecturer Alasdair Rawsthorne, and is a spin-off company that develops computer chip technology that makes life easier for people around the world.

The technology allows software designed for one type of processor or operating system to run on a different type of processor or operating system, removing a problem that traditionally limited the range of software that could be utilised by hardware.

The company's QuickTransit family of products has allowed Apple to adapt its entire Macintosh product line for Intel processors in an extremely short period of time.

"This is a fantastic achievement and great news for The University of Manchester," said Professor John Perkins, Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at The University of Manchester. "I would like to pay tribute to the team who worked so hard on the proposal and the final presentation to the judges.

"If the UK is to compete effectively in the global marketplace, we need to increase our knowledge transfer and collaboration to ensure innovative and novel research is put into practice.

"We have adopted a proactive approach to ensure better knowledge transfer into many areas of industry. This fantastic injection of funding will allow us to build upon the firm foundations already laid and build new bridges between The University of Manchester and the business sector."

Congratulating the Manchester team and the four runners up, 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."

After being invited down to London, the University of Manchester team had to present their proposal to a panel of industry experts and convince them they were offering the best investment for the prize money.

They also had to show the panel they have innovative ideas for undertaking future knowledge transfer activity.

The $500,000 grant will now be used to turn these proposed projects into reality:

  • Funding of concept studies that allow academic researchers and industry to develop technology ideas with genuine commercial potential

  • Support for short projects that allow smaller firms and academic partners to gain enough confidence to embark on a full-scale knowledge transfer project.

  • An incubator scheme for companies to relocate small numbers of staff to the University, in advance of full company relocation to the NW region.

As part of the award, Transitive Ltd has been given an EPSRC-funded CASE studentship worth $60,000. This provides money for a student to work in partnership with the company for three and a half years.

The University of Manchester was announced as the winner at a special dinner at the Institution of Civil Engineers in Westminster.

The EPSRC originally invited around 50 universities to enter the KT challenge, including the likes of Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London.


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