IOP presents Innovation Awards at celebration in parliament

29 October 2015

Companies such as the winners of the Institute of Physics’ Innovation Awards were acclaimed as central to the UK economy at a reception in parliament to celebrate their success and present the awards.

Innovate UK chief executive Dr Ruth McKernan

“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.

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.

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.

The IOP’s chief executive, Professor Paul Hardaker, described the achievements of each of the five winning companies (M Squared Lasers, Tracerco, Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging, Metrasens, and Silixa) as they came forward to receive the awards. These will also be presented at the IOP’s Awards Dinner on 5 November.