E&T to recognise best breakthrough at 2018 IET Innovation Awards

The IET has begun its annual search for the world’s most groundbreaking innovators, which this year includes a new prize backed by E&T magazine.

The IET’s annual competition to find the most pioneering innovations in science, engineering and technology is under way and includes a new trophy in the shape of a ‘champion of champions’ award backed by E&T that will go to one of the 14 sector winners. The Innovation Awards provide inventors from every corner of industry with an opportunity to highlight their latest work, be it a blue-sky idea, an amazing design or a revolutionary product.

Entry is free and open to any individual, academic team, company or organisation anywhere in the world with an innovative idea or product. The awards provide a unique platform for both budding and established engineering inventors to gain increased and invaluable exposure for their work on a global stage.

Two new awards are up for grabs in 2018: Young Innovators, open to entrants aged between 18 and 35 whose work focuses on solving a real-world issue, and the E&T Innovation of the Year, which will be awarded to one of the entries that takes top place in an individual category.

Launching the 2018 competition, IET president Nick Winser CBE emphasised the importance of celebrating and encouraging innovation to solve global challenges and inspire a new generation of engineers.

“Innovation is crucial for the growth of the global economy and raising the standard of living in all communities,” he said. “It’s therefore important that we have recognition like our Innovation Awards to raise the profile of new, innovative ideas – they showcase the achievements of incredible innovators in engineering and technology across the world and play a critical role in helping further their work.”

Winners in recent years have come from all over the world and demonstrated ingenious solutions to a range of current challenges.

Creavo Medical Technologies collected a pair of awards in 2017 in the Emerging Technology Design and Healthcare Technologies categories for a novel scanning technique designed to help physicians in hospital accident and emergency departments quickly assess whether a patient is suffering from the effects of serious heart disease.

Another double winner last year – for Navigation & Surveillance Communications and Transport – was Navtech Radar with the ClearWay automatic incident-detection system. By accurately detecting vehicles, pedestrians, animals and debris in all temperatures and weather conditions, including during darkness and when smoke or fog are present, ClearWay helps highways agencies improve traffic flow and enhance safety by implementing ‘smart’ roadways.

The two 2017 awards for Power and Energy both went to organisations that have developed ways of disposing of food waste. The Hong Kong Productivity Council’s three-step zero-effluent discharge process generates high-purity biogas that is around 80 per cent methane alongside fish feed and waste oil for biodiesel production, leaving no residual waste for disposal. IntelliDigest’s IntelliAd digester unit can be fitted in a kitchen and combines aspects of artificial intelligence, metagenomics, metabolomics, big data/analytics, integrated sensors and Internet of Things tech to safely recycle food waste to clean energy.

One company that has experienced the benefits of winning an IET Innovation Award is Ubiqutek, named Best Start-Up in 2017 for its RootWave weed-killing system.

With the use of chemical herbicides under pressure from increasing natural resistance and regulatory changes in response to health and environmental concerns, RootWave offers a sustainable alternative by using electrical heating to kill weeds by boiling them. The electricide equipment treats deep into roots, making it ideal for treating any weed, including tough invasive species.

Ubiqutek managing director Andrew Diprose said that participating in the Innovation Awards would help the business to grow: “The IET is a global, prestigious brand. Being able to win an award from them adds external validation to what we’re doing now and what we’ll do in the future.”

Rootwave has several key advantages over chemicals: as well as being organic it’s sustainable, doesn’t require ground to be disturbed, and is low-cost because it uses no consumables. There’s also the prospect of combining it with robotics for larger operations.

Diprose added: “Entering the IET Innovation Awards has been great for us. Our primary benefit is that we’ve got external validation of our technology, vision and product. Secondary benefits have been around market exposure, exposure to investors, and generally getting the message out there that there’s a scalable and organic alternative to chemical herbicides coming.”

The Innovation Awards are sponsored by ABB, Altran, Coventry University, Frazer Nash, GCHQ, Mathworks, National Grid, RS Components, Siemens and WMG. The deadline for entries is 6 July 2018 and a shortlist of finalists in each category, selected by expert judging panels, will be announced in late September.

Winners will be revealed at a black-tie dinner and ceremony to be held at The Brewery venue in London on Wednesday 14 November, where a Discover Innovation Shortlist Showcase will give everyone who attends the chance to see some of the shortlisted entries at first hand.

Full details of how to enter and sponsorship opportunities are available at www.ietinnovationawards.org.

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