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Pitch@Palace returns this year with the inclusion of six talented SETsquared entrepreneurs, each with pioneering ideas, in the final round of vigorous pitching. They will be competing for the winning spot alongside 36 other entrepreneurs.

The annual competition gives startups an opportunity to pitch their business to an audience of A-list investors, business leaders, celebrities, CEOs and mentors at St James’s Palace. The ambition behind this is to connect entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses connect with potential supporters.

Royal pitches

SETsquared is thrilled to have so many companies reaching the final bid to be crowned the Pitch@Palace winner.

Here are the companies representing the South West at this year’s event:

LettUs Grow

Provides an integrated offering of hardware, software and high-value research capabilities to the indoor farming industry.

Biosystems

Provides low-cost, high-throughput, ethical screening solutions for scientists working in the life sciences and healthcare sectors.

Build Solar

Aims to create sustainably-built environments by developing multi-functional materials that turn buildings into clean energy generators.

OTA Water

Designs and installs smart water management systems that can optimise for flood alleviation and rainwater re-use.

Kelda Technology

Has created the world’s most efficient water saving shower, designed and manufactured in the UK.

TISICS

Is pioneering ultra-strong titanium composites to deliver 70% lighter components for greener and cheaper plans, spacecraft and electric vehicles

The post Six SETsquared entrepreneurs in the final of Pitch@Palace appeared first on TechSPARK.co.

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Board of your standard cotton gloves? Even the ones you can use a touch screen with? Well, lucky for you, gloves just got a lot more exciting. Introducing MI.MU Gloves, the world’s most advanced wearable musical instrument.

Truly an object of expression, with these gloves you can create music with the wave of a hand, all through the power of motion capture and AI technology.

The tech behind the gestural musical gloves has been in development at UWE Bristol by Dr Tom Mitchell since 2014, and the finished product is now available for pre-order on MI.MU’s website.

Waving hello to the future              

Simply put, the gloves enable users to create music with their movement. The tech has been refined and the design has been impeccably streamlined to suit the needs of musical artists. The latest version contains enhanced build quality and gesture control, improved electronics, and faster wireless communication.   

Managing Director, Adam Stark, explains the far-reaching benefits of the product, “They are the result of years of research and development into new ways to compose and perform music.

“We believe they will enable musicians to discover new forms of expression, leading to new ideas, new performances and, ultimately, new forms of music.”

Bespoke models have already been created and distributed to a select few musicians. Those finding use from the product range from classical pianists to film composers to pop stars like Ariana Grande.

MI.MU was founded by Grammy Award winning musician Imogen Heap in partnership with UWE Bristol, and a team of hard-working creatives was soon built. Imogen’s own expertise in the world of music, combined with the tech wizards at UWE was a match made in heaven.

Through collaborations with initiatives like Innovate UK and the EU Commission, Tom and his team created a product that will soon be on the hands of many musicians.

Tom says, “The gloves bring a new creative dimension to music performance, enabling musicians to create the movements that perform their music. I can’t wait to see what people will do with the technology.”

Imogen is also extremely pleased with the developments and is eager to let the music be heard, “I’m so happy that we are finally able to extend the incredible superhuman feeling of having music in our hands out to a wider audience.”                         

The post Introducing the tech that brings music to your fingertips appeared first on TechSPARK.co.

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The SPARKies Awards celebrates the best of tech and digital in the west. And with so much bustling talent in the region, we have a list of over 100 individuals, startups, organisations and agencies all making the South West’s tech cluster what it is today.

Thanks to everyone’s incredible work, 2019 has seen a record number of nominations. The 300-odd nominations (many were nominated multiple times) include the most innovative uses of tech, those using their powers for good, groundbreaking virtual reality experiences, as well as nominations for the ones to watch in the future.

Our amazing 18 SPARKies judges now have the tough challenge of deciding who to shortlist and who to award the ultimate winner’s title. Yet they agree that the breadth and excellence of all those nominated deserve congratulating too.

So, have a gander at this year’s nominees and see if you can spot your favourites!

Abby Scarborough James Parker
Adarga Jane Ginnever
Alexander Young John Courtney
Andrew Mulvenna Keel Over Marketing
Armadillo KETS Quantum Security
Ash Phillips Lars Sundstrom
Atomic Smash LettUs Grow
Autono.me Lewis Bye
Backslash Build Limber
Beccy Kedward limber
Black Girl Convention > DIGI-TECH RETREAT Limina
blubolt Living Map
Bristol is Open/Zeetta Networks Lo-Fi Games
Bunk Louise Pasterfield
Charlie Coggans Lucia Velasco
Chris Mattingly, co-founder of blubolt Marina Traversari
Christopher Sanderson/ limber. Mayden Academy
CookiesHQ Mel Rodriguez
Cosmic Mobius Logistics Ltd
Cyber Security Associates Naturbeads
Data Cubed Ltd NikkiShindrami
David Darke NMI
David Kelly (Storm Consultancy) OmniDynamics
DesAcc EMEA Ltd. Open Bionics
Devacademy Our Canary
Dick penny Patrick Benjamin
Duncan McKean Phil Bates
Elucidata Reaal Media
epics Reach Robotics
Epics Digital Collectibles Ready to Blog
EZ Education Richard Godfrey
Fenturi Richard Norton, Tiny Giant
Fourth Floor Creative Rising Arts Agency
Framework Rocketmakers
Fusion Processing Sarah Roberts
Gapsquare SEIKK
Gareth Williams Service Robotics Ltd
Gavin Weeks / Epics.gg Seth Jackson / Landmrk Limited / Strange Thoughts Limited
Georgia Stewart Silas Adekunle
Ghyston Simpleweb
Goodsixty Sparkol
Gravitywell Steven Borrie
Haio (for Bunk) Storm Consultancy
Hargreaves Lansdown Studio Meineck
Harry Cobbold / Haio Tapmydata
Helpfulpeeps Techmodal
Homelync Tess Coughlan-Allen
Huggg Tumelo
Huw Bunn / Check-Risk Verity McKintosh
Icoteq Ltd Virti
Immersive Labs Walk to Beat
iXport Ltd We The Curious
Jack Farmer / LettUs Grow YellowDog
Jake Ronay Zara Nanu
James Courtney

Missed out on getting involved with the SPARKies this year? Why not sign-up to the TechSPARK newsletter for the latest news, events and jobs in tech in the region as well as a handy reminder to enter the SPARKies the next time it comes around! There are still tickets left if you want to come down and see what’s going on in the tech scene. You can stay up to date by following us on Twitter too: @TechSPARKuk.Y

The post See the full list of SPARKies nominees! appeared first on TechSPARK.co.

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Tech South West has launched a new awards ceremony to celebrate and showcase the best of the region’s technology sector.

The Tech South West Awards 2019 cover the whole Tech South West region of Bath, Bristol, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire, recognising and celebrating talent, creativity, business success, education, leadership, diversity and more across the whole technology sector.

The event will comprise 23 award categories covering South West’s fastest growing sector, honouring the profusion of innovative businesses, individuals and organisations making up the region’s thriving technology scene. Categories range from Best Startup, International Success and Tech Entrepreneur of the Year, to Sustainable Tech, Tech Education Initiative and Research Award.

To celebrate local successes from across the region, we are running in partnership with local tech cluster awards, Digital Northern Devon, Digital Plymouth, Digital Taunton, Software Cornwall, Tech Exeter and TechSPARK. These area-specific accolades will reward companies, organisations, programmes and initiatives which have delivered a positive difference to the industry and seek to encourage and celebrate tech in their local communities and beyond.

Toby Parkins, chair of Tech South West and founder of Cornwall-based software firm HeadForwards, said: “These awards will recognise the many successes across the South West’s technology scene, highlighting the incredible array of companies, initiatives and individuals helping drive innovation, collaboration, economic growth, jobs and future talent.

“The South West is a growing hub for digital and tech, and these awards will support our objective to showcase the region as an emerging, world-leading hub for technology and innovation.”

Nick Sturge, Director of Bristol’s enterprise and engagement hub Engine Shed, and one of the judges for this year’s Tech South West Awards, said: “The technology sector across the South West is bigger and stronger than ever and the awards are a fantastic opportunity to celebrate groundbreaking successes, creative talents and remarkable developments.”

Representatives from Software Cornwall, TechSPARK, Digital Plymouth, Tech Exeter, Digital Taunton, Northern Devon Digital, BT, Cornwall College Group, Cosmic, HeadForwards, Maistro, Oneserve and Astley Media are on the judging panel.

The awards opened for entries on Wednesday May 8 at www.techsouthwestawards.co.uk with the deadline 5pm Friday 21 June 2019. Judging takes place towards the end of June, with the shortlists announced in July, ahead of the awards ceremony in October.

The post New awards launched celebrating South West’s ‘best of tech’ appeared first on TechSPARK.co.

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The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol)’s Health Tech Hub has printed three 3D brain models that show the effects of dementia on the organ. Printed for Bristol based dementia charity BRACE, the models each have a section missing, which offers views of the inside of the organ and how the disease has depleted its density.

Using brain scans and 3D imaging provided by clinical dementia research group ReMemBr Group, which BRACE part-funds, the Health Tech Hub was able to accurately produce two Alzheimer’s diseased brain models and a healthy brain model exactly to scale, using a 3D printer. Each brain took 72 hours to print and is made out of a resin material. The Health Tech Hub covered the full cost of production.

Alzheimer’s disease causes progressive atrophy to the brain – a wasting away and shrinking of the brain tissue, which happens at a much faster speed than the old age-related shrinking that would be expected in a healthy brain.

The printing of these models will enable BRACE, the ReMemBr Group and the South West Dementia Brain Bank to use them as aids to teach and raise awareness of dementia.

Health Tech Hub Co-Director Professor Richard Luxton said: “These models mean you can physically see the effects of dementia and it’s shocking the extent to which a brain touched by Alzheimer’s wastes away. You can see that the ventricles [cavities in the organ] are bigger because of lost brain tissue and the two diseased brains are also noticeably lighter compared to the healthy one.”

Dr Elizabeth Coulthard of the ReMemBr Group said: “By printing from real brain scans, we can clearly see which areas of the brain are affected by dementia diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. The areas of brain that shrink are different in different dementias.

“The memory area, called the hippocampus, shrinks early on in Alzheimer’s disease. In contrast, the front of the brain shrinks first in behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (Pick’s disease).”

Dr Laura Palmer, manager of the South West Dementia Brain Bank said: “A healthy brain weighs between 1300 and 1400 grams; however, a brain with Alzheimer’s will weigh between 1170 and 1260 grams. In people with end-stage Alzheimer’s disease we often find that the brain can weigh as little as around 1000 grams at the time of death.’

The world-class Health Tech Hub facility at Frenchay campus is focused on advancing technology that enables people to live independently and manage their own health and well-being, thereby ensuring they spend the least possible time in hospital.

It works with health technology organisations and companies in the region, helping them with product development and prototype testing. Projects it is involved in include DNA sequencing, looking at the chemistry of biosensor surfaces, and visualising DNA from bacteria.

The Health Tech Hub is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Local Grow Fund through the Local Enterprise Partnership.

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Bristol startup Reach Robotics has piloted a scheme to teach programming to kids in schools using its gaming robots.

Reach Edu is being tested out at Winterbourne secondary (above), St Katherine’s secondary, Frampton Cotterell primary and Nova primary schools in the region. The company aims to take the scheme national, providing all the teaching materials to teach programming in class and making tech subjects fun.

Reach supports a range of ways to programme its robots through an app that unlocks MekaMon for full control through line-based programming all the way to Scratch-based block coding. This capability was a key addition to the new generation of robot.

Younger users can learn simple programming concepts by drawing pathways for MekaMon to follow and adding animations and head colour changes along the way, meanwhile more experienced MekaPilots can use Scratch-based block coding to fully explore the potential of their robot.

Guided learning Missions offer challenging instruction in coding concepts, taking users through everything from loops to variables in engaging, game-like challenges. One Mission takes users on the challenge of preparing their MekaMon for a Mars expedition by learning all about key coding processes and experimenting with their learning in MekaCode.

“There’s a huge amount of creative potential with MekaMon, due to the scope of its expressive movement and personality. Reach EDU is about delivering the tools to take advantage of this, by creating a versatile, accessible, and fun platform for effective STEAM education and ongoing innovation,” said Silas Adekunle, CEO and co-founder of Reach.

“The World Economic Forum recently listed problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity as the top three skills that children need for success. We firmly believe that we can deliver on all of these fronts,” he said.

“Taking into account that an estimated 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 are as yet undefined -we think it is essential that the next generation are fully literate in the STEAM skills that will equip them for a post-4th industrial revolution economy.”

Download the free app now on iOS and Android.

Find out more at edu.reachrobotics.com

The post Reach launches education programme with its robots appeared first on TechSPARK.co.

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The global chip making industry came to Bristol to look for its next generation of talent, focussing on diversity, not just in gender and race but also to attract people different backgrounds.  

“Diversity enables a company to make more money,” said Emily Clark, part of the sales team at Applied Materials which makes equipment for tech companies around the world, including Apple.

Speaking at a panel session at the SEMI Global Talent forum (above), she points out that having more than 20% of women in management leads to a 10% increase in innovation revenue.

“It provides better decision making and minimises group think – we have to make really hard decisions every day and if you have people that think the same way you come to a quick decision that is very likely to be wrong,” she said.

She points out that it also provides access to the best talent, which is a key requirement for companies. “People applying for jobs value diversity, as being the only person of whatever type in a room is difficult, it makes it difficult to speak up and allows people to treat you poorly. There are not enough people in England to work in the English semi industry, there are not enough people in Europe to work in the European semiconductor industry, so we need diversity, but there’s definitely barriers that needs to be overcome.”

A local high tech equipment maker started down this path several years ago.

“Around 10 years ago we started to grow rapidly and the senior team recognised there was a massive shortage of talent in the industry and that there was a massive narrowing of our talent pool, that it was not diverse enough, including the senior management,” said Claire Harrington, global Vice President of Human Resources at semiconductor equipment maker SPTS in Newport. 

“That’s a hard thing for an executive team to admit and that was the big changing point – you can’t really change things unless you believe there’s a benefit in terms of sales, customer service and profitability, and the senior team embraced that,” she said.  

“We have done things like encouraging girls into STEM subjects through a STEM ambassador project through primary, secondary schools and colleges and universities, but it take a long term so we have had to really work on retaining the women that we have,” she said. This includes flexible working for all employees, not just women “This has been a really big thing for us, to encourage it for all employees,” she said. “We have as many men working flexible hours and women so the women do not stand out.”

Another local high tech equipment maker points to lack of confidence as a contributing factor.

“Be brave,” said Charmayne Hall, HR for the plasma division of Oxford Instruments in Yatton, just outside Bristol. “Often as women it’s really hard to take steps and as you do that your mind can catch up – say yes, not no.”

The panel highlighted that diversity includes different backgrounds, not just race or gender.

“Diversity is not enough, you need inclusion,” said Hall. “For things to change we have to be brave enough to challenge it. It’s not enough to offer training to our managers, it’s about the genuine belief that there needs to be change.”

The panel pointed out that we need to change the dynamic and we need people in senior leadership roles to champion people from different backgrounds even if it feels difficult. One way to address it is to specifically target schools in underprivileged areas, and SPTS is working with SEMI’s High Tech U programme for the first time in the UK. This engages with schools around the site in Newport to boost interest in tech subjects.

semitalentforum.org/

The post Tech industry faces up to diversity challenge appeared first on TechSPARK.co.

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TechSPARK.co by Nick Flaherty - 1w ago

Vodafone will switch on its 5G network for homes and businesses in Bristol and six other UK cities in a matter of weeks.

The launch on 3 July will have four 5G smartphones and a 5G home router available and will cost the same as 4G says the company. The network equipment is supplied by Huawei, which has a multicore chip design centre in Bristol.

Vodafone will also offer 5G roaming in the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain over the summer.

Bristol joins South Korea and small areas of the US as the first cities to have 5G, along with Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London. 12 other uK cities will follow later this year.

“We started our 5G journey more than three years ago. We led the way in setting 5G standards to ensure phones and networks work well together. We upgraded our masts to be able to take 5G without disruption. And we were the first UK company to test 5G over our all-fibre core fixed and mobile network,” said Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery.

“This is important. It means we can today announce the largest launch of 5G in the UK and be the first to announce 5G roaming. It means that UK businesses can lead the world in adopting 5G to boost productivity and attract investment. It means consumers can get the fastest mobile speeds ever, and it means that our public sector will be able to adopt new services to improve healthcare, social services and housing.”

The 5G handsets are:

  • the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G smartphone, which will initially be available exclusively from Vodafone online and in store from 23 May 2019;
  • the Samsung S10 5G and Huawei Mate 20 X (5G), which will be available for pre-order later this month; and
  • the Huawei Mate X (5G) and an exclusive 5G home router, called the 5G Gigacube, which will launch this summer.

The new price plans will be unveiled next week to coincide with the availability of the first handset. Handsets can initially be used over 4G, and will be able to use 5G when the network is switched on and all manufacturer software updates are completed.

The post 5G launches in Bristol in July appeared first on TechSPARK.co.

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Researchers at the University of Bath are developing new solar cells that use light energy directly to split water.

Most solar cells currently on the market are made of silicon, but a new generation of cells are being developed using a material called perovskites that have the same 3D structure as calcium titanium oxide.

These are cheaper to make, thinner and can be easily printed onto surfaces and also produce a higher voltage than silicon cells. This is really helpful for generating hydrogen by splitting water. #

Unfortunately perovskite cells are unstable in water, so the team at the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies created a waterproof coating from graphite.

They tested the waterproofing by submerging the coated perovskite cells in water and using the harvested solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The coated cells worked underwater for 30 hours – ten hours longer than the previous record.

“Perovskite solar cell technology could make solar energy much more affordable for people and allow solar cells to be printed onto roof tiles. However at the moment they are really unstable in water – solar cells are not much use if they dissolve in the rain,” said Dr Petra Cameron, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry.

The reason the cells failed was the glue sandwiching the coat to the cells. Using stronger glue could help the cells operate for longer underwater.

The higher voltage from the cells is still not enough needed to split water using solar cells alone, so the team is adding catalysts to reduce the energy requirement needed to drive the reaction.

“Currently hydrogen fuel is made by burning methane, which is neither clean nor sustainable,” said Isabella Poli, PhD student from the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies. “But we hope that in the future we can create clean hydrogen and oxygen fuels from solar energy using perovskite cells.”

The post Cleantech hydrogen boost from new solar cells appeared first on TechSPARK.co.

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Local MP and Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Chris Skidmore visited the University of the West of England to open a new Foundry Technology Affinity Space to highlight tech.

The Minister, who is also MP for nearby Kingswood, opened the facility, which is funded by the Institute of Coding and will equip students with vital digital skills. The Institute of Coding, a £40million project is funded by the Office for Students and led by the University of Bath.

Developed through a research-led design process led by UWE Bristol Associate Professor Andy King, the industry-themed Foundry at UWE Bristol is intended as an ‘other space’ on campus, where students can build their professional identity through working with industry partners on paid projects that fit around their studies.

Aside from being home to UWE Bristol’s Enterprise Studios, the Foundry will also be a digital event space, hosting a high-profile calendar of technology outreach and engagement events across cybersecurity, computer science, creative technologies and STEM subjects designed to widen participation around coding and digital skills.

“As we rely more on new technologies and cyber threats become more sophisticated, the Foundry Technology Affinity Space will provide the vital skills needed to meet the opportunities and address the challenges of the future,” said Skidmore. “The impressive state-of-the-art facility with its cutting edge technology will introduce a range of innovative new courses for students, enabling them to go on and compete successfully in the global digital economy.

“This builds on our commitment to tackle this issue, and this government is funding projects to design out many forms of cyber threats to online and digitally enabled products and services through our modern Industrial Strategy.”

“The Foundry is a major investment that will connect our students with globally-renowned industry partners, and will give them invaluable insight into what digital skills and innovation the future workforce will need,” said UWE vice chancellor Prof Steve West. “Deep and meaningful collaboration with industry and the world of professional practice will hugely benefit our students not just during their degrees, but in their futures as they progress into the digital industry. I look forward to seeing what our students will create in this innovative new space.”

“The Institute of Coding is pleased to launch and support a new Foundry Technology Affinity Space, which will serve as a gateway for students to gain critical on-the-job experience through paid work with industry without disrupting their academic studies,” said Dr Rachid Hourizi, Director of the Institute of Coding. “With employers crying out for new candidates who are workplace-ready, and students seeking valuable experiences to bolster their CVs, this new facility will enable thousands of young people to begin the first step in their career.”

The post Minister opens technology ‘foundry’ at UWE appeared first on TechSPARK.co.

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