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University welcomes business world for ‘Innovation in Action’

Business leaders and academics got together recently to explore how research and innovation can be exploited for maximum benefit.

Taking place on 23 September, ‘Innovation In Action’ saw the University opening its doors to members of the technology, engineering and science community. Aimed at promoting collaboration between academics and industry, the event highlighted Surrey’s reputation as a leading hub for research and gave businesses the opportunity to see our researchers’ work at first hand.

After a welcome from Surrey’s Pro Vice Chancellor of Research Professor Michael Kearney, Dr Katie Blaney of EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) spoke about the role of academics in ‘accelerating impact’ – and stressed that ‘impact’ is not restricted to spin-out activity but could mean influencing policy, for example, or training students.

Giving a perspective from business, three speakers managing companies that ranged from a one-year-old start-up to a major multi-national talked about how they engage with research to develop new products. Digrijay Thakur of Tata Steel, the second largest steel company in the EU, described how his company had successfully collaborated with academics in Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) to develop an ‘energy cube’ for photovoltaic energy harvesting. Delegates also got the chance to hear from companies who bridge the gap between research and industry, including GrowthAccelerator and Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board).

In addition, the event showcased some of the real world success stories to come out of Surrey’s Impact Acceleration Account funded by EPSRC, including the world’s first verifiable e-voting system, a range of prosthetics featuring advanced engineering for optimum performance, and an app enabling the user to book and pay for a parking spot in advance.

Before a drinks reception hosted by Professor Michael Kearney, delegates enjoyed a tour of the University’s key research hubs hosted by a group of animated ‘Einsteins’ – some current students - who revealed some of the quirky stories behind Surrey’s successes in research and innovation.

Taking up a similar theme for a special event on campus the same evening, TV presenter Greg Foot (resident scientist on CBBC’s Blue Peter and Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch) hosted ‘Inventing the Future: An evening with Greg Foot’.

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