Wednesday, January 6, 2016

News: Innovation in Rotherham

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3D-printed silicone, electric-powered aerospace actuators, waterless washing machines, energy efficient irons and new snow sports products are just some of the innovations being developed by companies in Rotherham.

Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) is the UK's innovation agency, working with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy. Since 2007 it has invested over £1.5 billion in innovation, matched by a further £1.5 billion in partner and business funding.

30 Rotherham companies have secured funding in recent years, from £5,000 Innovation Vouchers, to hundreds of thousands for those involved in much larger consortia.

The Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham is the hotbed of the region's innovation with financial support for companies such as Xeros, the AIM-listed firm that is commercialising its patented system using a unique method of special polymer beads rather than the usual large amounts of fresh water to clean clothes. The company secured £250,000 from Innovate UK for a project to help develop its system for the domestic market.

14 companies on the AMP have secured funding including Fripp Design for their 3D printer that prints in full colour silicone, a world's first, that will revolutionise the rapid manufacture of soft tissue prosthetics.

Other recipients include Bromley Sports for the development of Baseboards; Materialise UK Limited for a number of projects focusing on additive manufacturing; and Performance Engineered Solutions (PES) for an ongoing project for the Development of Lightweight Composite Suspension Components alongside Tinsley Bridge Limited and the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

The university centre continues to play a crucial role in innovation and Innovate UK projects where it is involved focus on affordable lightweighting, satellite systems for aircraft and autonomous control systems for unmanned surface vehicles (USVs).

At Swinton, household domestic appliance giant Morphy Richards is the lead participant in the Sustainable Capillary Iron Project. The £300,000 project is hoping to develop a more sustainable, energy efficient, longer life iron, that uses less energy and water. The proposed new iron will consider relocating manufacture to the UK.

Based at Vector 31 at Waleswood, Arnold Magnetic Technologies Limited has been a part of a number of Innovate UK funded projects. A leading global manufacturer of high performance magnets, magnetic assemblies and precision thin metals, Arnold has worked with Sheffield-based Magnomatics Limited on projects for magnets in variable transmission for heavy-duty vehicles and on the MAGSPLIT power split device that is suited to hybrid and electric vehicles and is currently being evaluated by a number of global automotive customers as part of The Proving Factory initiative.

Arnold is also working as part of a £3m project led by Safran called AEMTA (Advanced Electrical Machines Technologies for Aircraft). The aim is to utilise electric power for aerospace systems such as actuations, high pressure pumping, landing gear and wheel applications, and power transfer. It also aims to establish the UK for future supply of advanced high added-value products for the "More Electric Aircraft" concept.

Innovate UK website

Images: Xeros

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