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Innovation showcase celebrates UEA’s strategic relationship with Barclays

Leading academics from the University of East Anglia (UEA) showcased their cutting-edge research and technologies alongside the region’s most innovative businesses at an event hosted by UEA and Barclays Eagle Labs Norwich.

The event, which took place yesterday (17 April) was organised to celebrate innovation in the Eastern region, as well the strategic relationship between Barclays and UEA, which will pool knowledge and resources to help develop, support and grow local businesses.

Around 150 industry professionals attended, including guests from the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, BT, Anglia Capital Group, Tech East, and members of city and county councils.

Prof Fiona Lettice, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation at UEA, and Anthony Pryke, Eco System Manager from Barclays Eagle Labs Norwich, welcomed attendees to The Enterprise Centre on UEA’s campus.

Prof Lettice said: “Collaboration stimulates and drives innovation in a range of different sectors, delivering improved productivity and growth.

“UEA and Barclays share an ethos of collaboration and innovation and strive to support, develop and grow businesses and innovation opportunities in the region and beyond.

“We want to focus on ensuring that our world-leading research makes a difference and that we can provide our collaborators with the expertise and skills they need to thrive.”

Anthony Pryke added: “Research is really important for innovation because if that spark isn’t there, then companies don’t know, what they don’t know.

“The rise of gamification is also really exciting as we are now able to take information, make it fun and engaging and allow people to better remember it.

“Events like this, where we can get organisations together to share ideas and give people the confidence to do so, are invaluable. At the end of the day, no idea is terrible.”

Keynote speaker, Marcus Hemsley, Creative Director at Fountain Partnership and a UEA graduate, talked about the lows and numerous highs in starting his strategic Digital Marketing Agency, which he titled ‘Innovate or Die’. This was followed by a question and answer session and panel discussion around innovation and opportunities for collaboration.

Throughout the event people had the chance to visit a number of interactive exhibition stands to see UEA research from a range of disciplines come to life - with virtual reality technology and gamification taking centre stage.

Dr Louise Ewing and her colleagues in the School of Psychology showcased their range of interactive table-top games designed to give insights into our facial processing skills, while Dr Michael Grey from the School of Health Sciences displayed his pitchside virtual reality technology to help detect concussion.

“With the fast-pace development of modern technology I believe it is critically important for university researchers to work closely with industry,” said Dr Grey.

“Virtual reality in particular is quickly moving beyond the realm of university laboratories.

“It is now a valuable tool that helps us solve real-world issues and this event allows us to showcase our technology, receive valuable feedback, and develop new partnerships.

Guests also had the chance to try their hand at the virtual reality game "Bug Off Pain" based on Pharmacy PhD student Lucka Bibic's research using spider venom toxins to make better painkillers for the future. “Bug Off Pain” is an immersive and educational game which places the viewer inside the brain and shows them the molecular system that allows people to sense pain.

Many of the projects and businesses showcased link closely to the aims and objectives of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, ‘Building a Britain fit for the future'.

UEA has received additional Higher Education Innovation funding to support and develop collaborations with business via projects linked to the Industrial Strategy.

If you have a project or idea which could help to meet the objectives of the Industrial Strategy and would like to know more about UEA funding opportunities, email: business@uea.ac.uk or visit: www.uea.ac.uk/business