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UEA innovation recognised at awards

Innovative initiatives led by professors, doctors and students at the University of East Anglia (UEA) were recognised during an awards ceremony last night.

UEA’s Innovation and Impact Awards, held at the Sainsbury Centre, Norwich celebrated those who go above and beyond their roles in higher education, and was hosted by the university’s chancellor Karen Jones CBE.

The awards celebrated staff and students who have shown a strong commitment to innovation and impact, and recognised collaborations between UEA and organisations outside of higher education.

Categories included those who have made outstanding impact in social, health and technology.

Every finalist received a trophy, and winners also received funding towards a promotional video for their project.

Fiona Lettice, UEA’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, said: “The impact that UEA staff, students and alumni have on society, culture and the economy is truly incredible. We had many worthy nominations in all of the award categories and the level of innovation was high, causing the judging panel much deliberation.

“These awards celebrate and showcase UEA’s pioneering research and innovation, which makes a positive difference locally, nationally and internationally, by addressing global challenges and by influencing policy and practice across a wide range of sectors and communities.”

One of the highlights of the night was the presentation of the award for Student or Graduate Innovation and Enterprise, which was won by Paul Donati and Lottie Michael, owners of eco-friendly clothing brand, Catching a Fish in Norway. The pair began their business in 2014 with £500 from a UEA grant, and are now turning over around £40,000 a year.

Paul Donati, said: "We are over the moon to have been given this award, which we think greatly reflects the hard work put in by all the members of the team over the past few years.

“We hope we can help fellow and future UEA students who would like to set up their own social enterprise or ethical streetwear ventures - and think that this award reflects our ability to help others and continue to grow in the future."

Work to improve access to GP services for socio-economically disadvantaged groups, including those in rural areas and the elderly was also acknowledged. Dr John Ford, Prof Andy Jones and Prof Nicholas Steel from the Norwich Medical School scooped the Outstanding Impact in Health, Wellbeing and Welfare Award for their project which has already formed the basis of a national NHS resource to reduce inequalities.

Prof Nicholas Steel, said: “UEA really is an excellent outward facing university and the diversity we’ve seen tonight really illustrates the great work we’re doing working out in the community to make things better.”

His colleague, Dr John Ford, added: “I think it’s really nice to be recognised for our hard work, especially as we’re trying to forge collaborations and relationships with commissioners and providers in healthcare.”

Winner of the Outstanding Social or Cultural Impact Award was Henry Sutton, Dr Laura Joyce and Dr Sara Helen Binney with their entry Crime Pays: Bringing Noir to Norwich. Their annual crime writing festival, ‘Noirwich’ was highlighted as successfully impacting local cultural tourism, bringing hundreds of visitors to the area every year.

Henry Sutton, winner of Outstanding Social or Cultural Impact Award spoke of the awards, saying: “These awards recognise the impact that projects like ours and the other finalists are making - this is very important as it makes the teams who work hard feel valued.”

The Small and Medium sized Enterprise (SME) Collaboration of the Year Award which recognises collaborations between UEA and SMEs that have resulted in outstanding commercial, social, health or cultural impact beyond academia was picked up by Liz Rix for the Science Analytical Facility based within the Faculty of Science of UEA which provides services to regional SMEs.