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Institute of Physics recognises innovation and entrepreneurship of physics-based businesses in 2019 Business Awards winners

16 October 2019

Supermarket checkout-type scanners that enable low-cost sorting and recycling of waste plastics and fabrics, a molecular movie camera and a spectrometer to characterise and authenticate wines. These are among the incredible technological achievements developed by the winning companies awarded at this year’s Institute of Physics Business Awards.

The awards will be presented at a reception at the Palace of Westminster tonight (Wednesday 16 October 2019).

The IOP is committed to working with ‘physics-based’ businesses, and those companies that apply and employ physics and physicists, and has a rich history of supporting business innovation and growth.

IOP’s Business Awards are unique in the UK and Ireland in recognising the significant contribution that physicists and physics make in industry and business, and the recipients are notable in their commitment, vision and ingenuity.

There are two categories of awards – Business Innovation Awards and Business Start-Up Awards – so businesses at any stage of their development are eligible; from start-ups to multi-national corporations.

All the awards showcase, celebrate and reward UK and Irish talent and innovation, and highlight the potential impact that physics and physics- based-businesses have on society and the key challenges facing us today.

Dr James McKenzie, IOP Vice-president for Business, said:

“The success of physics-based businesses is vital to our economy and to society and the Institute of Physics plays a vital role in bringing together physicists working in business and industry in global corporations, local companies and start-ups in the UK and Ireland.

“One of the key roles of the IOP and its members is to ensure that those with decision-making power fully understand the contribution a strong and connected physics business community can make to the economy and how vital a well-funded, thriving research and development (R&D) base is to the discovery and solutions process.”

Jonathan Flint CBE, IOP President, said:

“The IOP Business Awards recognise large and small companies that have built success on the creative application of physics. There are very few awards that do this.

“The application of physics has the potential to produce cutting-edge technologies, and to drive business innovation and growth. It also fuels significant positive societal and economic transformation, both locally and globally.

“These awards remind us of what can be achieved when physics-talent is encouraged, developed and rewarded.”

This year’s winners are...

Business Innovation winners

The Business Innovation Award recognises and celebrates companies that have excelled in innovation, delivering significant economic and/or societal impact through the application of physics.

Aeristech (Kenilworth)
For the invention of a new class of variable speed motor

Aeristech has developed a range of variable speed motors based on its patent control technology, known as Aeristech Control Technology (ACT).  An ACT Motor is more power dense, more efficient and with a higher continuous rating than any similar motor, enabling operations and processes that were previously impossible and also deliver environmental benefit, while saving energy and cost.

Elekta (Crawley)
For improving the delivery of radiotherapy through the integration of a high-field MRI system, a state-of-the-art linear accelerator and an adaptive workflow

Designed by Elekta, the Elekta Unity is a leading precision radiation medicine, which helps clinicians deliver personalised patient care solutions for treating cancer and brain disorders. Elekta Unity’s integrated 1.5T MRI system enables superior soft tissue contrast images before and during radiation delivery, with no additional radiation dose to the patient. Clinicians are able to see what they are treating more clearly and adapt the procedure if necessary; ensuring the best possible treatment for the patient.

FFEI (Hemel Hempstead)
For the development of advanced, whole slide imaging technology

FFEI designs and manufactures innovative digital imaging technologies. They have developed advanced, whole-slide imaging technologies that generate ultra-high resolution, colour-calibrated digital images, enabling clinicians to use digital pathology more widely in cancer diagnosis. This is dramatically increasing speed of diagnosis and helping to save lives.

Horiba (Glasgow)
For the development of a novel molecular movie camera

Horiba has developed a novel molecular movie camera. The FLIMERA is a user-friendly camera that detects the location and dynamics of molecules. Using their fluorescence emissions, it enables real-time video rate studies of fundamental cellular processes critical to biology and healthcare for medical research, disease diagnostics, screening and tissue monitoring.

Reaction Engines (Abingdon)
For their innovative, high performance heat-exchanger (the pre-cooler)

Reaction Engines are developing an advanced air-breathing rocket engine called SABRE (Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine).  Uniquely, SABRE can combine the fuel efficiency of a jet engine with the power and high-speed ability of a rocket, resulting in an innovative new class of aerospace propulsion with the potential to provide efficient air-breathing thrust from standstill to speeds over five times the speed of sound.

Business Start-up winners

The Business Start-Up Award recognises and celebrates young companies with a great business idea founded on a physics invention, with the potential for business growth and significant societal impact.

Matoha (London)
For the development of a low-cost, small-scale infrared materials identification and analysis platform

Founded by three scientists and entrepreneurs from Imperial College London, Matoha Instrumentation has developed a platform that enables low-cost, small-scale materials analysis to identify and sort visually identical, but chemically different, materials for recycling. Their two products built using this technology identify and analyse plastics and fabrics respectively, allowing operators in existing manual sorting facilities to recover a greater proportion of recyclable mixed waste. The technology also makes identification much more affordable, so it is more accessible to developing nations worldwide.

Novosound (Motherwell, Scotland)
For exploiting innovative thin film processes and technologies

Novosound, a spin-out from the University of the West of Scotland, pushes the limits of ultrasound imaging and measurement. By exploiting thin film technologies and processes Novosound has created new manufacturing methods that allow new applications for non-destructive, ultrasound-based testing and drive growth in the ultrasound sensor market.

Opsydia (Oxford)
For the development of adaptive optics technology in laser processing, enabling a novel security solution for diamond gemstones

Opsydia, and its founding academics from the University of Oxford, have developed adaptive optical techniques for use in short pulse laser processing. This innovative technology has enabled secure marks and serial numbers to be embedded inside diamond gemstones at the microscale, offering guaranteed identification of precious stones without affecting the quality or grade of the stone.

VeriVin (Oxfordshire)
For developing a through-barrier spectroscopic analyser for wine, spirits and other complex liquids in sealed containers

VeriVin is a start-up that has developed a through-barrier spectroscopic analyser for wine, spirits and other complex liquids eg olive oils, perfumes, and even blood transfusion bags in sealed containers. VeriVin plans to create a database with the optical fingerprints of millions of bottles of wine, allowing them to be authenticated, characterised and monitored over time.

The applications for VeriVin’s technology range from anti-counterfeiting and quality control to profiling and validation (rubber stamping) for wine producers. Its use will lead to a powerful database of molecular ID tags that could have a major impact on the wine and spirits industry.