Innovation Award winners are celebrated at reception in parliament

28 November 2014

The IOP’s Innovation Award winners are “living representatives” of what can be done in physics and innovation, Baroness Neville-Rolfe said at a reception in Westminster to present the awards on 27 November.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, who is  parliamentary undersecretary of state for business, innovation and skills and minister for intellectual property, said she had been “utterly delighted” to have been given the intellectual property brief, because it was essential for the UK to make the most of its intellectual assets, of which physics was a key part.

Underlining the importance of physics to the UK economy, she said the government recognised this and was soon to announce a new science and innovation strategy. Congratulating the four companies who were receiving awards, she said: “I think the winners tonight are wonderful.”

The IOP Innovation Awards recognise companies in the UK and Ireland that have built success on the innovative application of physics.

Lady Audrey Wood, co-founder and former director of Oxford Instruments and of the Oxford Trust, also spoke at the reception to commend the award winners. She described how the company that she and her husband had founded had grown from a small spin-out from the Clarendon Laboratory at the University of Oxford to be a highly ranked FTSE company. The world market for its high-field magnets had initially consisted of fewer than 10 laboratories, she said, but it had grown and exploited the new technology of superconducting magnets, which became the basis for MRI scanners.

Andrew Miller MP, who chairs the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons, said there was a genuine belief in parliament that British science deserved support and was a key part of the future of the UK. He thanked the learned societies for their role in helping MPs and peers to get to grips with science and technology and said the IOP had “done a fantastic job over the years”.

The IOP’s chief executive, Prof. Paul Hardaker, told the guests from industry, parliament and scientific bodies that although the four companies to receive the awards for 2014 were also presented with them at the IOP’s Awards Dinner in October, the event at the House of Commons was an opportunity to celebrate their outstanding achievement.

Before handing the awards to representatives of the companies, the IOP’s president, Frances Saunders, referred to the challenges that the companies had had to face in taking an idea from the lab and turning it into something that people would want to buy. She said: “I think it is a tremendous achievement for these companies to have developed products that are innovative but also successful in terms of sales.”

The winning companies were:

Gas Sensing Solutions Ltd For developing and commercialising an optical carbon dioxide gas sensor. The low-power sensor allows for greater accuracy and energy savings for customers in a range of markets.

Gooch & Housego For the development of a fibre-coupled acousto-optic modulator device for integration into fibre-laser systems. The Fiber-Q is used to modify the laser beam in systems used in a range of markets and applications, from oil and gas security to medical lasers.

Magnox Ltd For developing and implementing an innovative method of refuelling the Wylfa nuclear power station Reactor 1. The transfer of fuel from Reactor 2 has allowed for continued energy generation at the site.

MBDA Missile Systems For the development of a missile-system upgrade which combined two guidance modes for greater precision. The innovation has provided new capability for UK and coalition armed forces.

Read more about the Innovation Awards and the winners.