Back as the headline event of Glasgow Tech Week, Glasgow Tech Fest is a must-attend event for the tech, digital, and creative communities in Glasgow and beyond. Glasgow Tech Fest will bring together visionary founders, seasoned leaders, insightful investors, ecosystem champions, and experts to connect, network, and share ideas and learnings in a day of keynotes, panels, and fireside chats.

Learn from industry experts and gain practical knowledge with this year’s themes:

Opening keynote launching Glasgow Tech Fest is the incredible Dame Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock from BBC’s The Sky at Night! Stay tuned as more additions to the agenda are announced, guaranteed to be the ultimate tech event in Scotland!

Hosted by the Department of Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management (DMEM), this conference event showcases the innovative processes and outcomes from over 40 collaborative student team projects through a series of presentations.

As well as providing a platform for our students’ industry-related output, academics will highlight opportunities and mechanisms for industry to work collaboratively with us in the future.

Registration will take place from 08.45 and the event will close at 14.30.

Who should attend?

Danu Robotics is developing a revolutionary robotic waste sorting system to help the waste management industry significantly increase their productivity, prevent valuable resources going into landfill, boost the circular economy and clean up the environment.

Background

The world generates 3 billion tonnes of domestic solid waste annually, less than 10% of it is recycled. Worldwide, recycling sites require human intervention to pick out contaminants, which can pose health risks and is extremely inefficient.

Xiaoyan Ma founder of Edinburgh-based, clean tech company Danu Robotics, has combined her expertise in high performance computing (HPC) with her passion for the environment to revolutionise the efficiency of the recycling sector by developing an AI-powered, robotic sorting system.

She explained: “I have been a committed environmentalist since I was a teenager and always recycled my household waste, but I’d never thought about where it ended up. So, a couple of years ago, while I was studying, I decided to look into the whole process, and I was shocked at how inefficient it was.”

The Challenge

As a team of one, Xiaoyan needed help in identifying additional resources to support the development of the robotic solution. She required both experts in robotics and hardware development. She also called for help with software development and computer vision expertise. Experts in advanced data analytics and image recognition capability, would help develop a more accurate machine learning algorithm and object classification to enable the robotic system to differentiate between recyclable materials and general waste.

Following an introduction from John Hill, her student enterprise advisor at Edinburgh Innovations, Interface made several connections to different academic teams to support Danu Robotics on their journey of development.

The Solution

Interface connected Danu Robotics into the Design Manufacturing & Engineering Management (DMEM) department, at the University of Strathclyde. The DMEM students undertook a six-month project researching and developing the robotic picker equipped with a camera to identify objects and an appropriate algorithm to instruct the picker to pick out the recyclables and place them in a designated area. The robotic picker needed to meet predefined performance requirements, and in addition, the solution had to be durable, recyclable/sustainable, affordable, portable and re-programmable. Several options were considered to design robotic pickers that were fit for purpose ranging from, a custom solution where the robotic picker uses a suction and release mechanism rather than grab and release, to the modification of an off-the-shelf robot arm/picker to the combination of hard robot and soft robot.

In conjunction to this project, Interface also connected Danu Robotics into EPCC at the University of Edinburgh to develop software for identification and classification of objects and to define suitable hardware, including sensors and cameras, for the robotic picker.

The software development phase required development of a machine learning algorithm that takes image data and sensor data to differentiate recyclables from the general waste. The company had to build up a waste image database to help the system identify contaminants, the collection of the image data was supported by Glasgow City Council. Each item in this visual database was then labelled by a specialist data processing company and the updated database used to ‘train’ the machine learning algorithm to identify what can and cannot be recycled.

With initial system training complete, the software required further development to direct the robotic sorting system to remove contaminants from a moving conveyor belt as efficiently and effectively as possible. Working with EPCC’s Cirrus supercomputer resources, accelerated the development of the project, with two months of lab tests to integrate the software with the robotic hardware, followed by a three-month trial of the prototype system at Glasgow City Council’s recycling centre.

The initial collaboration with EPCC was funded by a SFC Innovation Voucher, then EU Horizon 2020 (H2020) funding which in turn helped leverage £70K in a SMART Scotland grant. They have recently secured SFC Advanced Innovation Voucher funding to continue development work with EPCC.

Other opportunities which Interface have been instrumental in assisting Danu Robotics with include:

The Benefits

  • The development of a revolutionary robotic system for the recycling and waste management industry to significantly increase recycling efficiency;
  • Danu Robotics’ prototype can work at 40 picks per minute versus trained human operators that work around 10-20 picks per minute.
  • It can reduce the contamination rate from current level of 50%, to 10% to below 1% while saving on operating costs ranging from 30% to 100%.
  • The technology can be used by any recycling facility worldwide regardless of its size, its current technology or location. It can support recycling activities in both developed countries and developing nations.
  • Danu Robotics’ efforts are paying off with several large European recycling companies showing interest in the product.
  • Since inception in 2020 Danu Robotics has grown from 1 to 10 employees and has raised £275K from Sustainable Ventures and Old College Capital, £160K Smart funding, £75K EDGE Funding, £43K in support from Higgs Business Incubation Centre and £20K from SFC innovation voucher scheme.

Overview  

Bubble FLO® has created a fun, child friendly, visually engaging, and effective physiotherapy medical device the Bubble FLO® PEP (Positive Expiratory Pressure) Device for the treatment of chronic lung conditions.

Background 

Bubble FLO® was set up by Katie Vance to develop a child friendly, engaging and effective physiotherapy medical device- a Bubble Positive Expiratory Pressure (PEP) Device for the treatment of chronic lung conditions.  

Positive-expiratory-pressure (PEP) therapy is a respiratory therapy that applies resistance to expiration, to produce positive airway pressure.  Since the 1930s, PEP has been used to improve oxygenation, increase lung volume and reduce venous return in patients with congestive heart failure.  PEP improves collateral ventilation, secretion clearance, aerosol distribution and functional residual capacity. (Respiratory Care:April 2009, Vol 54, No.4) 

Challenge 

The idea of creating a Bubble PEP device evolved when Katie’s daughter was diagnosed with a lifelong respiratory condition and the equipment supplied to carry out vital twice daily physiotherapy was very basic and lacked visual engagement for children.  Katie discovered there was no specific Paediatric equipment available, so she decided to develop a Bubble PEP Device which was fun, engaging and effective in clearing secretions from the lungs, and that was aesthetically pleasing, easily portable and easy to empty and re-fill.  

The technology did not exist to meet these key practical needs and Katie recognised that such a product could be revolutionary in this critical field.  The prototype that she developed was given very positive feedback from physiotherapists who worked with Katie’s daughter, and they expressed a need for a similar device for use by other patients and so Bubble FLO® was born.    

Solution 

To develop the concept Katie contacted Interface, who, after putting out a search to Scotland’s universities and research institutes, partnered her with Kath Sharp, NHS Team Lead in Paediatric physiotherapy at Glasgow Caledonian University, (who introduced the technique to the West of Scotland and acted as a consultant on the project), and Professor Terence Gourlay, from the University of Strathclyde’s Biomedical Engineering Department, who has extensive experience in the design, development and commercialisation of medical devices.   

This collaborative project, funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher, focused on the development of a novel respiratory improvement technology aimed at the paediatric sector, but based on known and well-established approaches. The novelty in the proposed approach is centred around making what can be a tiresome therapy for children, fun and engaging.  

The experience the Department of Biomedical Engineering has in the production of laboratory, test-ready prototype devices was applied to the project to produce near clinically deliverable prototypes of the proposed technology which were then successfully tested under laboratory conditions. 

Subsequently Bubble FLO® was awarded a By Design Grant from Scottish Enterprise, which allowed the prototype design and ergonomics to be developed further. 

Through the support of South of Scotland Enterprise, Bubble FLO® worked with an engineer to develop manufacturing tools, create 40 prototypes and completed bio burden and chemical compatibility testing. 

Regulatory work has been completed with the support of CPI and Innovate UK to ensure the product is suitable for use. 

BubbleFLO are hoping to start clinical trials with the West of Scotland Innovation Hub at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow soon. 

Interface have continued to assist Bubble FLO® brokering collaborations with the University of Strathclyde to create a brand and marketing strategy to target families of children with respiratory conditions and with Edinburgh Napier University to develop a “How to Set Up and Use” animated video with the aim of using animated characters to turn what can be a very daunting experience for a child into a fun and engaging one. 

Benefits 

As the Bubble FLO® PEP Device will be more engaging for children than the current NHS equipment; children will be much more motivated to carry out effective physiotherapy sessions and, in turn, this has the potential to save the NHS budget considerably through a reduction in hospital admissions for respiratory treatment. 

Whilst initially, sales of the Bubble FLO® PEP Device will be to parents online, it is hoped the NHS will purchase this new medical equipment as a long-term investment to reduce their overall budget after completion of an upcoming clinical trial with the West of Scotland Innovation Hub, Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow.

The development of the proposed technology will underpin the foundation of the commercial activity around this novel product. The company have benefitted from the University’s expertise in the development of prototypes, their laboratory evaluation and expertise in tooling design and production of the medical devices. 

Subsequent collaborations have provided Bubble FLO® with a marketing and targeting strategy and produced a novel animated guide for children and parents to be able to use the device at home. 

The academic partner has benefitted through this new research activity in the paediatric respiratory sector and in the use of this project as a case study for teaching purposes. In addition, the project fits very well with the Department’s objective of being supportive of the Scottish life science and med tech sectors. 

This project was nominated for Innovator of the Year at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards and won a Wild Card at the Scottish EDGE. 

This one-day event will showcase impact success stories, offer you a chance to find a partner from another Scottish university, and give you the opportunity to access funds for impact collaborations. Inspirational sessions include a keynote speech from Mark Miodownik and skills development and networking facilitated by Skillfluence.

The IAA Impact Festival is organised by the five Scottish universities with EPSRC Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAAs): University of Edinburgh, University of Strathclyde, University of Glasgow, Heriot-Watt University and University of St Andrews.

Plenary sessions

Our keynote speaker is Mark Miodownik, Professor of Materials and Society at UCL. He champions materials science research that links to the arts and humanities, medicine and society. Mark established the Institute of Making, where he is a director and runs the research programme. He also recently set up the Plastic Waste Innovation Hub to carry out research into solving the environmental catastrophe of plastic waste. Mark is a broadcaster and writer on science and engineering issues, and believes passionately that to engineer is human. In 2018 he was awarded an MBE for services to materials science, engineering and broadcasting.

The keynote will be followed by lightning talks from impact leaders from the five leading Scottish universities in science and engineering. The speakers will share their experiences of creating different types of impact from social and policy impact to industry collaboration, commercialisation and company creation. Learn how our speakers have leveraged the support available to them to further their career and translate their research into impact. The speakers are:

Interface will be exhibiting at this event so come and join us.

Background 

Ecomar Propulsion Ltd is based in Fareham on the South Coast of the UK and was first registered in 2019.  Ecomar Propulsion Ltd is involved in the research, development and production of high performance electric and hybrid hydrogen marine propulsion systems. 

Their team of highly skilled engineers and technical experts are working to reduce global emissions by creating high efficiency, high output marine engines and energy storage solutions. The company only works with fully clean electric systems to allow current vessel owners the opportunity to seamlessly transfer to clean marine or new build yards to offer electric vessel options. 

Ecomar Propulsion produces two products for clean marine vessels; outboard systems and inboard systems powered by battery and hydrogen with a company aspiration of removing 10 million tonnes of toxic exhaust fumes from the marine environment within 10 years. 

In 2021 the company increased its workforce to 8 staff and then to 12 by Jan 2023, with further expected growth.  The company has been recognized with several awards from the Maritime UK (Solent) Clean Marine Innovator and Maritime UK Diversity Champion Finalist 2022 through to SETSquared University Network Award for Environmental Impact 2022. 

The Challenge 

The business challenge for Ecomar Propulsion arose when their manufacturer of hydraulic rams in the Far East ceased supply of their products. This left a significant challenge for Ecomar Propulsion but also an opportunity for the company to look at developing their supply chain within the UK.  Another requirement was to ensure the materials being used are as environmentally sustainable as possible from a circular economy perspective. 

The Solution 

Scottish Enterprise introduced Ecomar Propulsion to NMIS, and as a result of their interest in developing a Scottish supply chain and bringing production to Scotland to overcome a global supply chain issue of electric outboard motors, they were eligible to apply for the Inward Investment Catalyst Fund to support activity.  The Inward Investment Catalyst Fund supports businesses not yet located in Scotland but seeking to establish stronger ties with academia here.  As well as funding the research and development it provides an opportunity for the company to establish relationships and give insight into other aspects of the Scottish landscape, such as further investment opportunities, supply chains and the skills base to strengthen the case for investing in Scotland. 

The teams at NMIS and University of Strathclyde developed their understanding of the design and manufacturing parameters to find replacement components that would be robust enough for the extreme demands of the marine environment.   Research and outreach were carried out with companies specializing in hydraulic production in Scotland.  Further discussions with selected companies are taking place to develop future alternatives to current suppliers in order to close the gap in the market and provide consistency of supply. 

The Next Steps 

This project has allowed Ecomar Propulsion to better understand the work of NMIS and the University of Strathclyde and how the skills of the teams can allow Ecomar to plan further growth in Scotland and engage with the wider available supply chain.  

Whilst an immediate supplier for marine hydraulic rams was not found, the team have introduced Ecomar Propulsion to several companies which they would not have met had they not taken part in this project. Through meeting senior members of the academic community, potential further opportunities have been identified to explore additional supply chain introductions and manufacturing routes in Scotland for Ecomar Propulsion’s full product range.  

Continued collaboration will be facilitated with the Head of Electrification Manufacturing Programmes at NMIS, and allow Ecomar Propulsion and NMIS to engage with Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise in relation to future facility planning and supply chain partnerships. Additionally, opportunities will be aligned with the University of Strathclyde’s strategic direction in electrification manufacturing, notably in PEMD (power electronics, machines and drives) through DER-IC Scotland (Driving the Electric Revolution Industrialisation Centre), ensuring that expansion of capabilities is informed and driven by industry requirements. 

This project benefitted from the Scottish Inward Investment Catalyst Fund.  The Scottish Inward Investment Catalyst Fund launched by Interface and the Scottish Government promotes Scotland as a leading destination for inward investment and supports businesses not yet located in Scotland but seeking to establish stronger ties with academia here.  As well as funding research and development it provides an opportunity for the company to establish relationships and give insight into other aspects of the Scottish landscape, such as further investment opportunities, supply chains and the skills base to strengthen the case for investing in Scotland.

Learn more about the Scottish Inward Investment Fund 

5G technology offers more than just improved mobile phone connections. Companies of all sizes across the world are embracing 5G technology to take advantage of the benefits it enables. If you are looking to increase efficiency, reduce costs, improve and future-proof your systems, operations and products, then The Scotland 5G Centre (S5GC) is here to help you unlock the transformational benefits that 5G has to offer.

Businesses are invited to join this event and workshops series and hear about the free range of support services and access to state-of-the-art 5G testbeds. You will also find out how 5G is being used in industry, for example within manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, and agriculture to drive efficiencies and cut costs.

This event comes in two parts.

Part 1, is an event on the 17th April 2023, and will provide information and examples of how 5G is transforming businesses as well showing how the Scotland 5G Centre can help.

Part 2, a series of 121 private sessions running from April until September and providing you with the opportunity to have a private consultation with one of our Business Engagement Managers (at your local S5GC innovation) and discuss how you can test the application of 5G to a specific business need or challenge.

Come along to this event on 17th April and discover how 5G can transform your organization.

What can you expect from the event?

This event, hosted by the Department of Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management (DMEM),  showcases the innovative processes and outcomes from 50 collaborative student team projects through a series of presentations.

As well as providing a platform for our students’ industry-related output, academics will highlight opportunities and mechanisms for industry to work collaboratively with the university in the future.

Evolve™ green energy technology is the first hydrogen electrolysis solution that can extract hydrogen from any natural water source including groundwater, tap water, and seawater, without desalination. 

Background 

Evolve Hydrogen Ltd wants to develop novel Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolyser technology to produce “green” hydrogen for use in industrial processes. This innovation unlike the traditional flat-stack designs of common PEM and alkaline electrolysers is designed in a honeycomb configuration with reactive parts placed in a concentric layout. The reactive parts are fabricated via injection moulding of a custom polymer which allow this technology to utilise impure water sources. 

The Challenge 

In developing their technology Evolve Hydrogen Ltd required a bespoke polymer material that enabled direct electrolysis of impure water sources, for example, seawater without the need for desalination. Optimisation of this material required a thorough understanding of its electrochemical performance and transport mechanism in various electrolysis environments. To improve the efficiencies of their prototypes this project required electrochemical engineering expertise to give a full characterisation of the polymer raw material and to recommend improvements in composition to advance Evolve™ technology. 

The Solution 

Evolve Hydrogen Ltd sought the expertise of the University of Strathclyde to perform this project based on recommendations by their technical advisors, two of whom were alumni of Strathclyde University.  Funding provided by Interface’s Inward Investment Catalyst Fund permitted the material characterization of the original polymer and suggestions for efficiency improvements to be carried out by the University of Strathclyde. 

Evolve Hydrogen Ltd provided samples and previous technical data to the University’s research staff, who performed the physical and electrochemical characterisation required as part of Evolve’s aim to achieve TRL 4 (Technology Readiness Level) status. Dr Edward Brightman and his team of electrochemical engineers used their expertise to create a specialised test cell. They also demonstrated the knowledge and the flexibility to adjust the research scope to address new questions of the materials being analysed.   

The work performed by the team of electrochemical engineers successfully characterised the original polymer material and suggested material and dimensional changes to improve the efficiencies of Evolve Hydrogen’s technology. 

The Future 

Evolve Hydrogen Ltd is committed to working with the University of Strathclyde because of their demonstrated level of professionalism, knowledge, creative thought, and the working relationship that has been established.  The University, the Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC), and their industrial partners plan to collaborate for the testing of future prototypes and the fabrication of Minimal Viable Products for Evolve Hydrogen’s demonstrations.  They are seeking joint funding together to support an R&D pathway towards commercialisation in Scotland. 

The Benefits 

This project benefitted from the Scottish Inward Investment Catalyst Fund.  The Scottish Inward Investment Catalyst Fund launched by Interface and the Scottish Government promotes Scotland as a leading destination for inward investment and supports businesses not yet located in Scotland but seeking to establish stronger ties with academia here.  As well as funding research and development it provides an opportunity for the company to establish relationships and give insight into other aspects of the Scottish landscape, such as further investment opportunities, supply chains and the skills base to strengthen the case for investing in Scotland.

Learn more about the Scottish Inward Investment Fund.