BIS: The iawards - the first government-led awards initiative to recognise & celebrate the best of British science, technology & innovation – have announced the shortlist of finalists. Finalists will attend the gala dinner & awards ceremony at the Science Museum on 16 November 2009, hosted by Science & Innovation Minister, Lord Drayson, and leading entrepreneur, James Caan.
All entrants had to specify the British involvement in any innovation - demonstrating that creative thinking & development came from a British organisation or team. Each entry also had to illustrate how its innovative qualities relate to at least one of the following challenges:
* Addressing the healthcare needs of an ageing society
* Increasing international security from tackling global poverty to minimising the threat of terrorism
* Preserving finite natural resources in the face of population growth and climate change
* Delivering public services which make best use of new technologies
LDA: The London Development Agency (LDA) has presented the Environment Award to Novacem for its potential contribution to the engineering & construction industries at the recent London Technology Fund (LTF) Competition awards ceremony.
Novacem, a spin-out from Imperial College London, has developed a groundbreaking type of cement, which has the potential to transform the cement industry from being a significant emitter of CO2 to being an absorber of CO2. Novacem estimates that for every tonne of ordinary Portland cement replaced by Novacem cement, around 0.75 tonne of CO2 could be captured & stored indefinitely in construction products.
Novacem is supported by the LDA and European Regional Development Fund, through their investment in the LTF, which supports the capital's emerging talent in high-tech industries. It has acted as a key investor to help secure nearly £20m of equity funding for London-based companies – securing co-investment at the rate of over £2 for every £1 it has invested. Novacem is also based in a specialist incubator facility at Imperial College London, which the LDA contributed funding too.
STFC: As the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - the world’s largest & most complex scientific experiment - restarts this month, the science & vast machinery of this massive international project at CERN are brought to life in the pages of a new pop-up book - Voyage to the Heart of Matter.
Once first physics gets underway early next year, protons travelling at nearly the speed of light will collide 40m times a second within the heart of the LHC’s particle detectors, sending out showers of debris, to recreate the conditions that existed millionths of a second after the Big Bang - the event that set our Universe in motion. Now readers of all ages can join the ATLAS Experiment on this fascinating journey to the beginnings of the Universe.
In this collaboration between ATLAS and renowned paper engineer Anton Radevsky, 7,000 tonnes of metal, glass, plastic, cables and computer chips leap from the page in miniature pop-up, to tell the story of CERN’s quest to understand the birth of the universe.
Press release ~ LHC ~ Voyage to the Heart of Matter ~ Photos of the book ~ Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) ~ CERN ~ The Atlas Experiment
WAG: Hayley Widlake has built up one of the largest leaflet distribution franchises in the UK and the collective annual mileage covered by her 90 ‘posties’ is equivalent to walking around the globe twice. They deliver to 50,000 homes each week, covering 345 delivery rounds, so it’s small wonder that Hayley needed a software programme capable of organising the logistics & workflow of her Dor-2-Dor franchise.
Hayley, who has a marketing background and worked for a travel company before starting her own business, had an existing software programme but needed support from the Welsh Assembly Government’s Flexible Support for Business programme to take it to the second level.
Her software programme – Deliver-IT! has been so successful that she’s now selling it to other distribution businesses throughout the UK and just had her first sales from Australia to a master franchisor of a leaflet distribution company.
Hayley’s delivery service covers Neath Port Talbot, Swansea, Maesteg & Carmarthenshire and she provides a consultancy service to her customers to ensure they are targeting the right markets and offers a design & print service for leaflets.
Newswire – CABE: CABE has set up a dedicated design review panel to provide expert advice on the quality of designs for the government’s proposed eco-towns. The panel will review the proposals for: Whitehill-Bordon in Hampshire; Rackheath in Norfolk; North-West Bicester in Oxfordshire; and St Austell in Cornwall.
The specialist panel brings together a wealth of experience to comment on the specific issues involved in eco-town designs. Working with Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA), the reviews will be part of CABE’s national design review programme.
CABE and BioRegional produced joint guidance in September 2008. ‘What makes an eco-town?’ was inspired by the Challenge Panel and sets out the principles for the agencies involved in developing proposals.
Press release ~ Eco-towns design review panel ~ What makes an eco-town? ~ Planning Policy Statement: Eco-towns - A supplement to Planning Policy Statement 1 ~ Eco-towns: Location decision statement ~ CLG – Eco Towns ~
Analysis: eco towns may not be very green ~ BioRegional
NA: The National Archives has made 99,000 RAF officers' service records (from 1918 – 1919) available online for the first time. These records are easily searchable by first name, last name & date of birth and were previously only accessible to visitors at the Kew site. You can view & download records via the DocumentsOnline service.
The courageous aviators of the early Royal Air Force (RAF) played a crucial role in Britain's victory in the First World War. Among the service records available are some of the country's most celebrated & famous pilots - known as 'Aces' for having shot down 5 or more enemy aircraft.
The service records were created with the inception of the RAF in April 1918, however many records include the retrospective details of earlier service in either the Royal Flying Corp or Royal Naval Air Service. These records and many others can be viewed on The National Archives' website on a pay-per-download basis for the fee of £3.50.
The NA also has a series of podcasts entitled Voices of the Armistice which bring alive the individual experiences of those who served in the First World War, which are available to listen and download for free
NA: Archive Awareness has just launched its 'Take Flight' campaign, celebrating local links to manmade flights and the movement of people. Throughout the autumn & winter, archives across the country have teamed up with local groups & communities to highlight their rich & diverse heritage in air travel, migration and human endeavour.
Historical events and individuals being commemorated in the Take Flight campaign include American explorers Robert Peary and Matthew Henson - the first men to reach the North Pole, the first non-stop transatlantic flight in 1919 and the 40th anniversary of the first manned moon landing.
Press release ~ Archive Awareness ~ Events & exhibitions happening across the country ~ National Archives ~ National Council on Archives
STFC: A new discovery about nanoparticle behaviour in sewage treatment plants could improve the environmental management of nanoparticle wastes from foods, cosmetics, medicines, cleaners and personal care products.
Scientists from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s ISIS Neutron Source, along with colleagues from King’s College London and OxfordUniversity, have studied how certain nanoparticles behave in wastewater and identified a way to potentially help remove them during primary sewage treatment. The scientists examined silica nanoparticles which are commonly found in consumer products and routinely discharged to wastewater.
The study simulated primary sewage treatment to show that coating silica nanoparticles with a detergent-like material (surfactant) made the nanoparticles interact with components of the sewage to form a solid sludge. This sludge can be separated from the wastewater and disposed of. In contrast, uncoated nanoparticles stayed dispersed in the wastewater and were therefore likely to continue through the effluent stream.
Each year manufacturers worldwide use over 1m tonnes of silica nanoparticles in consumer products. A large proportion of these are washed down the drain into the sewage system. This makes sewage treatment plants a major gateway for nanoparticles to enter the aquatic environment.
Press release ~ UK NERC: Environmental Nanoscience Initiative (grant NE/E014585/1) ~ STFC ISIS Facility ~ Science and Technology Facilities Council ~ Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH)
BIS: Two further Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) have been ‘relicensed’. Sector Skills Councils are employer-led bodies, established to enable employers to exert influence on the UK’s education & skills systems to ensure they meet their needs.
Both ConstructionSkills (for the construction industry) and the Institute of the Motor Industry (for the retail motor industry) have been successful in their application for a further trademark licence to operate as SSCs and have gone through a comprehensive assessment process led by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).
All 25 Sector Skills Councils are currently undergoing a robust & rigorous ‘relicensing assessment’, in order to ensure they are as effective as possible. The relicensing process includes a performance assessment carried out by the National Audit Office on behalf of the UKCES which manages the relicensing process.
Press release ~ Sector Skills Council for Construction Skills ~ Sector Skills Council for Institute of the Motor Industry ~ UK Commission for Employment and Skills ~ ConstructionSkills: A review by NAO ~ Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI): A review by NAO
BIS: Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has announced that the Government is setting up a new Automotive Council to address the long term strategic challenges facing the UK car industry. The move is part of the Government’s response to the wide ranging recommendations made in a report from the New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team (NAIGT) published earlier this year, setting out its 20-year vision for the automotive industry. The first meeting is expected to be held in December 2009.
Press release ~ New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team (NAIGT) ~ An Independent Report on the Future of the Automotive Industry in the UK (VLF 5.6Mb)
LDA: The London Development Agency (LDA) is investing £75m this year in programmes to support Londoners into jobs, provide training, advice, support & help businesses and those people hit hardest by the recession.
The LDA has been tasked under the Mayor's leadership and within the framework set out by the London Skills and Employment Board (LSEB) with cutting the number of long term workless in London and helping London’s low paid to progress in work.
Under the new Government Skills Strategy, released last week, the LDA & LSEB have responsibility for developing an effective plan for London. They will be working with a number of local & national agencies to deliver on this objective and simplify services for London's people & its employers, including investing £75m in employment & programmes (this includes £48m through the Mayor's Economic Recovery Action Plan).
The first of these independent research reports commissioned by the LDA has been published. Entitled - Staying In, Moving Up: Employment Retention and Progression in London - , the report shows that, despite significant progress made, too many Londoners still are trapped in a ‘low pay, no pay’ cycle with one in two out of work Londoners back on benefits within 6 months of leaving benefits.
To help inform the LDA's strategic investment strategy going forward, the agency has commissioned a suite of 5 research reports to assist it & its partners better understand London’s labour market and identify new & innovative ways of getting more value from its investments.
Press release ~ Staying In, Moving Up: Employment Retention and Progression in London ~ London Skills and Employment Board (LSEB) ~ Skills for Growth – A national strategy for economic growth and individual prosperity ~ Mayor's Economic Recovery Action Plan
ScotGov: Plans to increase the reuse of second hand furniture & household goods in Scotland were given a lift recently with the launch of a £800k investment programme. The cash - from the Scottish Government's £7.5m INCREASE fund - will be targeted at Scottish-based community projects which reuse household items, such as furniture, white goods, or carpets.
The investment programme will be managed by WRAP Scotland (Waste & Resources Action Programme) and supported by the Community Recycling Network for Scotland (CRNS). The programme will fund up to 50% of project costs and projects must be fully operational by 31 March 2011.
Funders particularly want to support innovative ways to encourage reuse, including developing purpose-built, community reuse facilities at local authority recycling centres. They also want to target areas of Scotland where reuse infrastructure is currently under-developed.
WRAP Scotland, in partnership with the CRNS, is hosting a series of regional seminars for potential applicants to explain the aims of the programme and the application process. There will be a single round of applications to the programme, which closes at 1.30pm on Friday 8 January 2010.