The 2006 Merseyside Innovation Awards gave some fascinating insights into current eco-product, bio-tech and uninhabited air vehicle developments; and they also offered food for thought about how innovators actually come to be practising their craft.
Some events are well worth the effort of turning up. The 2006 Final of the Merseyside Innovation Awards this week (on Thursday 13 July) was one of them.
The event was buzzing, with expectations high that we would all learn something of interest. And so it was, with three shortlisted Finalists from very different parts of the emerging techno-science markets.
Ecological products for the future
The first presentation was from Delphis Industries Limited, a local Liverpool company. They have identified a strong market niche for eco- cleaning products (for masonry, stone etc.) which will not harm people or the environment, and which will meet the increasingly specific requirements of new health and safety legislation.
The talent in this company is very much ‘home grown’ and the ideas arose in the serendipity way that sometimes happens when business associates or friends meet up. Here, for all to see, were a small team of people who had spotted an opportunity which arose out of the blue, and had gone for it, combining their enthusiasm for ethical and environmental products and their ability to see an emerging market when one appeared.
The big bio-tech development
Next to make their presentation were Genial Genetic Solutions Limited (GGS). This is a rapidly growing company, employing staff at graduate level and beyond and at the sharp end of cytogenetics and related disciplines. Amongst the applications of the technology which they are developing is a much speedier response to the analysis of, for instance, cancer cell samples, so that appropriate medical treatments can be delivered as soon as possible.
We were told that orders are already coming in for the newly developed equipment, small enough to be housed in a normal laboratory, which will enable genetic assessments to be conducted much more quickly than in the past. At about £100,000 each these items are serious investments in the future of medical technology, and that is the part of the market which GGS is looking to.
An ‘uninhabited air vehicle’ idea from the 1930s
The fianl presentation was by Hoverwing Ltd. This is a prototype small, lightweight flying machine whcih can carry a camera to places normal airborne vehicals can’t even attempt to reach. Apparently the idea has arisen from the lightweigt one-person aircraft developed in the 1930s (which, in the words of our presenter, had a nasty habit of seeing off their pilots) with a double wing which allows the aircraft to fly very slowly or even almost not at all, simply hovering above its intended viewing point.
This time round, however, there is no risk to the operator – who is safely ground-based with just a box to ‘steer’ the machine by; and because there are no chopper blades or other big and dangerous parts the camera can be taken much nearer to the action – people, animals, unsafe sites, inaccessible routes, film sets etc – than could previous air cameras. The scope for this in the media industry alone is said to be enormous.
Success by a head for the high-tech, high investment people
Any of these three companies would have been a worthy winner, but the eventual outcome favoured Genial Genetic Solutions Limited. Both the judging panel (which included Dr Sarah Tasker, Chief Executive of the new Liverpool Science Park and Edge Lane facility) and the audience chose GGS to win the cash prize of £10,000, with another £4,000 worth of legal, business and other consultancy and support. In some respects this was the most advanced and complex of the proposals on offer – no-one could claim the science was simple – so it was good to see this complexity and excellence acknowledged so publicly.
And the other two Finalists also gained considerable encouragement and solace, with 30% each of the audience vote at least.
These were three great ideas, all delivered to the judges and audience with directness and enthusiasm. They each addressed real commercial opportunities, by developing cutting edge technology for general benefit alongside business aims. All had required perseverance and much investment on the part of everyone involved.
Some sound advice for innovators
To my mind, however, the last word must come from the presenter for Hoverwing. Do not, he advised, imagine, because an idea seems good, that ‘they’ have already tried and tested it and perhaps found it lacking. However long the idea may have been around, ‘they’ may not have done anything about it at all.
There often is no ‘they’, there may well be only ‘you’. So just keep going….
Which in itself is not a bad idea to take away from an Innovation Award event.
Posted on July 15, 2006, in Arts, Culture And Heritage, Events And Notable Dates, Knowledge Ecology And Economy, Liverpool And Merseyside, Sustainability As If People Mattered. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.