The IOP Innovation Awards Parliamentary reception provides a platform for the winners to engage with leaders in business, policymaking and academia.

IOP Innovation Awards Parliamentary reception

The winning companies appear at a celebratory event at Parliament, where they have the opportunity to explain the physics behind their innovations and show how this has contributed to their success. It is an engaging demonstration of the commercial value of physics research and development.

IOP Innovation Awards 2015 exhibition

The IOP Innovation Awards 2015 were presented to M Squared Lasers, Tracerco, Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging, Metrasens, and Silixa at parliamentary reception sponsored by Alok Sharma MP, with talks led by Professor Roy Sambles, President of the Institute and guest speaker Dr Ruth McKernan, CEO of Innovate UK.

“Science underpins so much of the economic growth in this country,” MP Alok Sharma, once a physicist and a former Science and Technology Committee member, said. The government’s goal of seeing UK exports reach £1 trillion a year by 2020 could only come close to being achieved if physics-based firms such as the Innovation Award winners had sufficient opportunities to export, he said.

Before presenting the awards the IOP’s president, Professor Roy Sambles, told the winners: “For the UK economy to be effective we must have people like you. Seriously – you’re keeping the UK economy going.” The IOP knew how important it was to invest in fundamental science and in innovation. “The advocacy work of the IOP is really important because it tries to represent the small and medium-sized enterprises as well as the big players,” he said.

Innovate UK chief executive Dr Ruth McKernan

Innovate UK chief executive Dr Ruth McKernan (pictured) said that if we could grow the kinds of companies represented in the awards, we would not need to worry about the future of innovation-based business in the UK. But such success did not happen automatically and companies needed to be nurtured early in their development, she said. Among the goals of Innovate UK (formerly known as the Technology Strategy Board) were to drive innovation and to help small companies to scale up and attract investment. “We have more than 5,000 companies on our books, and for a great number of these, physics is critical to their existence. It’s no surprise that companies that have physics at their core are some of the most innovative,” she said. Physics was central to several of Innovate UK’s catapults, which are designed to enable businesses and the research community to collaborate, she noted.