Innovus Wins Better World Award

Innovus has won the Outstanding Social Enterprise of the Year award at The University of Manchester’s inaugural Better World Awards ceremony, organised by the University’s Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences Social Responsibility team.

Some of the winning Innovus team at the Better World Awards ceremony (from L-R: Anne Knott, Elaine White, Kevin Warren and Adrian Davis-Johnston)

The event, held on Monday 8 February, showcased a wide variety of social responsibility work which makes a real difference to individuals, communities and society as a whole.

The Innovus programme was established by The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute, from its Dalton Cumbrian Facility, in partnership with the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) to address reports that Cumbria was the worst place to do innovation in the UK. With world-class facilities, experience and expertise in technology research, development and commercialization, the partners drew funding from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and the Regional Growth Fund to implement the initiative, supporting the commercialization of innovative technologies conceived by local inventors and entrepreneurs.

Since its launch in 2013, Innovus has attracted and nurtured a diverse pipeline of project proposals from the supply chain. Within its first two years £2.7m has been invested in projects, 283 inventions have been assessed, 56 jobs have been created or safeguarded and a further 315 jobs are currently forecast to result from current projects from investment secured to date. Over 1,000 people from 300 businesses have also attended Innovus Challenge Events, designed to promote innovation and unlock potential new solutions, which bring together industry leaders and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Innovus works across all sectors and all parts of Cumbria and has had some great results to date. Land surveyors, Atlantic Geomatics, have developed drone technologies and software enabling them to solve a challenge around the management of the UK’s burial grounds. Off the back of that, there are opportunities to service the popular genealogy market and new staff are being taken on as a result. Innovus has also helped businesses to get access to opportunities in the nuclear decommissioning sector where SMEs struggle to get an audience. Barrnon was a small company manufacturing scallop dredging equipment which has found a route to growth using its old technology to help with lifting sludge from fuel storage ponds in nuclear clean-up operations, whilst the AVEXIS project (a partnership between The University of Manchester, through its School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Sellafield Ltd, Innovus and Forth Engineering) has potential to support decommissioning at Fukushima. Createc, a specialist imaging and sensing company, have developed a drone technology which can provide a visual map of usually invisible ionising radiation and Aqua Power Technologies has been supported in devising new ways to harness wave energy.

Barry Lennox, of The University of Manchester’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Research Director of the Dalton Cumbrian Facility, said: “It was vital that the University show its commitment to Cumbria. Innovus has demonstrated that with a socio-economic impact exceeding all forecasts and in the process deepened the important partnership with NNL that is helping to close the gap between academic research and industry application.”

NNL’s Adrian Davis-Johnston, Innovus Programme Director, said: “We’re delighted by this achievement. Innovus has so far been a resounding success, with funding secured to March 2017 and the full potential yet to be realised, and holds great potential to be adopted more widely as a model for regional open innovation. We’re not gathering moss and the project team is now looking to ways that the Innovus model can benefit communities throughout the Northern Powerhouse”.

Kevin Warren, Director of Operations & Sustainability at The University of Manchester’s Dalton Cumbrian Facility, said: “I’m really pleased to see the great work delivered by the Innovus programme formally recognised by this award, in addition to the programme being highly commended at Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster Awards in 2014 and at the recent NDA Supply Chain Awards. The team have delivered some outstanding results and made a real impact on shifting innovation culture in Cumbria and delivering socio-economic benefits to the region”.

The University of Manchester’s Better World Awards emphasize the focus the University places on social responsibility as one of its three core strategic goals, sitting equally alongside its commitments to world-class research and outstanding learning and student experience.

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