National Nuclear Laboratory


Sunday 25 May 2014

Launch of Major New Innovation Programme for Cumbria

Launch of Major New Innovation Programme for Cumbria

NNL have been involved in the launch of an exciting new Cumbria based technology development programme…

Cumbria became a hotbed for innovation on the 26th February 2013, as business delegates, academics, industry specialists and local school children came together to attend the exhilarating launch of Innovus at Energus, Lillyhall, Workington.

Innovus is a brand new Cumbria based technology development programme focused on taking bright ideas in the field of technology and making them a commercial success. Innovus is the result of funding through Britain’s Energy Coast and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The programme has determined plans to encourage and support innovative technologies in Cumbria. The successful commercialisation of innovations is reliant on connecting a ‘bright idea’ with a ‘real need’ in the marketplaceand Innovus aims to support this process from start to finish. It will offer connections to market demand, access to world class facilities, funding, technical skills and business support through its key delivery partners, The University of Manchester and the National Nuclear Laboratory.

The Innovus launch was not your average conference, it combined details of the how the programme will work and what it has to offer, with some interesting examples of how technology innovation can not only solve business problems but also help businesses grow and diversify. Guest speaker Ken Primrose, Managing Director of Industrial Tomography Systems plc, spoke about how his company, which originated in The University of Manchester, has innovated technology used within CAT scan imaging to a whole host of other applications. Their technology allows customers to not only ‘see things as they have never seen them before’ but also save time and money through remote imaging, eliminating costly man hours.

Sheila Rae, Technology Commercialisation Manager for the NNL said:”We are delighted at how well the Innovus programme was received at the launch and we’re looking forward to working with businesses from across the county to support their development and commercialisation of new technologies. It was great to hear from our guest speakers about how transferrable the skills which we have in the county are into other sectors and it bodes well for the future of technology in Cumbria”

Kevin Warren, Commercial Director at The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute said: “Innovus has evolved from a shared belief at the University and NNL that Cumbria has a unique research and development capability and the opportunity to use technology as a driver for significant economic growth. I was particularly pleased with the number of school and university students at the launch as they will be the innovators of the future and will be able to access more high-tech opportunities in Cumbria as a result of Innovus”

Running in parallel with the main conference a huge buzz was being created by teams of local school pupils who were invited to take part in the ‘Innovus Challenge’. Pupils competed against one another to complete a series of 24 tough interactive challenges, which were specially organised for the day. There was a rare opportunity for pupils to have a go on some of the world’s most cutting edge technological advancements, like the Brokk Simulator, which involved students constructing a virtual building and Aquaball, an underwater robotics innovation. Many of the challenges at the event were borne out of ideas from research students or businesses and have gone on to solve ‘real’ business issues and needs within the marketplace – Innovus aims to support innovations just like these. It also has long term aspirations and aims to encourage and support innovation among the young people of Cumbria, to ensure a long term pipeline of talent and opportunity.

Mr Osborne, Mathematics Teacher at St Benedict’s school, Whitehaven said:”The students all really enjoyed the Innovus event. I have spoken to many parents who were very impressed with the reaction and enjoyment the students had taken from the day. It was obvious a lot of effort had gone into the innovative challenges, which most certainly helped improve the pupils’ knowledge of engineering and its applications, as well as problem solving and working together as a team to complete tasks. The Brokk Simulator challenge led to a nice discussion with my year 9’s in class the next day, regarding the trigonometry used within this innovation”.