From saving the worldâs animals through socks, improving animal nutrition to sequencing COVID-19 genomes and developing a diagnostic device for dizziness, there was lots to celebrate at UEAâs Innovation & Impact Awards last night (Tuesday 10 May).
Bringing together UEA staff, students and graduates, as well as external collaborators and partners, the annual awards celebrate the remarkable research that is changing lives and helping to shape our understanding of the world.
Entries for this year were submitted across seven categories, with finalists selected following a rigorous judging process. The judging panel and award presenters included senior colleagues from each Faculty and RIN, alongside representatives from partner organisations Airbus, Archant, Aviva, Barclays, Norwich Film Festival, TechEast and Vattenfall.
Prior to the winners being announced, accomplished musician, broadcaster and businesswoman, Myleene Klass addressed the audience and spoke about her love of the region and the importance of working collaboratively for business success (watch her speech on UEAâs YouTube channel). Winners (listed below) from across seven categories were then announced and the winner of this yearâs Chancellorâs Award presented their award by UEA Chancellor Karen Jones.
Fiona Lettice, who opened the awards and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation and chair of the judging panel, said: âA big congratulations to all this yearâs winners and finalists. We were delighted with the high calibre of submissions this year and the awards have really shone a light on some of the innovative, impactful and inspiring work that makes our community so special.â
A recording of the full ceremony can be viewed on UEAâs YouTube channel.
Student or Graduate Innovation and Enterprise
Winner: Bare Kind; Lucy Jeffrey, School of Biological Sciences and Norwich Business School alumna
âItâs amazing to be recognised for the work we are doing and because the award is coming from UEA, it means a lot.â
Bare Kindâs mission is to save the worldâs animalsâ¦through socks! The founder, Lucy Jeffrey, saw a gap in the market for socks that have an impact on the world of animal conservation. Lucy is aiming to have the largest range of animal socks in the world, all contributing to save the species on the sock. 10% of the profits from every pair are donated to animal conservation and rescue charities.
In 2021 Bare Kind was able to have a global impact through the sock donations; Over 1,200 acres of tropical forest protected, 4,300 baby turtles released on a beach in Sumatra and 13 rugby pitches of wildflower seeds planted for bees. The aim in 2022 is to support a 100 more animals.
Outstanding Commercialisation of Research
Winner: The UEA Publishing Project Ltd, Nathan Hamilton (pictured right), Rowena Burgess (pictured left) and Dr Philip Langeskov, Interdisciplinary Institute for the Humanities and School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing
"The awards give you an opportunity to explain what you are doing, as well as getting wider recognition from UEAâs community.â
UEA Publishing Project was established in 2017 and over the last four years has grown a combined list in excess of 120 publications. These have featured prominently in mainstream press outlets such as BBC Radio 4, The Daily Telegraph, The Financial Times and The Guardian as well as in the literary press in such places as The London Review of Books, The LA Review of Books, and The Times Literary Supplement.
UEA Publishing Project has been nominated for several awards and attracted inward investment from organisations around the world. To date this means a cumulative income of roughly Â£400,000 and profitability over the last two challenging years. The Project has helped enhance and reinforce UEAâs international reputation as a place where opportunity and literary excellence thrive.
Consultancy Project of the Year
Winner: Improving Animal Nutrition; Colleen Sprigg, Prof Charles Brearley and Dr Hayley Whitfield, School of Biological Sciences
âItâs a great pleasure that the activities of the people I work with are recognised by the University, as well as outside agencies. Anyone thinking about entering these awards should just do it.â
Phytate in animal feed impairs the growth and sustainable production of poultry. Consequently, phytases - enzymes that degrade phytate are added to 95% of commercial poultry feeds across the globe. Prof Brearleyâs research in this area has impacted the animal feed industry on a global scale, via knowledge transfer to AB Vista, a UK animal nutrition technology company.
The research has changed AB Vistaâs research and development strategy, know-how, marketing behaviour and technology adoption, enabling AB Vista to become one of the three largest animal feed enzyme suppliers in the world, responsible for approximately 17% of global production.
Outstanding Social or Cultural Impact
Winner: Paston Footprints; Dr Karen Smyth, School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing
Dr Rob Knee (pictured), who collected the award on behalf of Dr Karen Smyth, commented: âI am from a small heritage organisation and to win at the UEA is very rewarding.â
Paston Footprints is a cultural partnership programme between the UEA, Paston Heritage Society, Norfolk Record Office, Community Action Norfolk and 59 history, church and local Norfolk organisations. Democratising access to the Pastonsâ 15th to 17th century letters, landscapes and landmarks is the main objective of this project. Empowering community investment in Norfolkâs early history and exploring wellbeing connections with past lives has enabled new audiences to engage with the worldâs earliest and largest collection of family letters.
Paston lives are now better interpreted through community research, an online letters database and 3D digital reconstructions at thisispaston.co.uk. All-age creative activities in 15 Paston hubs have enabled new storytellers to emerge. Paston heritage is better experienced with the creation of 10 new Paston heritage trails in Norfolk, available at pastonfootprints.co.uk.
Outstanding Impact in Health, Wellbeing and Welfare
Winner: CAVA system â a novel diagnostic for Dizziness condition to improve the health and wellbeing of patients; Prof Stephen Cox, Dr Jacob Newman and Dr John Phillips, School of Computer Sciences and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH)
Prof Gerard Parr (pictured left) and Ian Nunney (pictured right), who collected the award on behalf of the CAVA team, commented: âThis is a classic example of different disciplines coming together to tackle the issue of dizziness and find a solution. Itâs a testament to the hard work and is a big achievement in getting this recognition.â
Dizziness is common, awful to experience from a patientâs perspective, and has significant implications for an affected individualâs ability to work and enjoy life. Identifying the causes of dizziness is challenging.
A collaboration between NNUH and UEA has led to the development of the CAVA system. The system consists of a diagnostic device worn near-continuously by patients in their own homes, together with sophisticated AI algorithms to analyse the recorded data. Over Â£2 million has been invested in research into this system by the Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research.
When brought to market, it is expected that the CAVA system will result in quicker and more accurate diagnoses for patients, with subsequent swifter access to effective treatments. This will result in significant cost savings for the NHS.
Outstanding Impact in Policy and Practice
Winner: Sequencing Covid-19 genomes to inform public health policy; Prof Robert Kingsley, Prof Alison Mather and Prof Justin O'Grady, School of Biological Sciences and Quadram Institute Bioscience
âItâs amazing to have this recognition. The awards is important as it it highlights a project which responded quickly to a crisis and highlights the important role that scientists have to play in society.â
A truly world-leading part of the UK response to the COVID-19 pandemic was tracking the virus spread and evolution using genome sequencing. A group of scientists from UEA, Quadram Institute Bioscience and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust played a critical role in this effort.
To date, the team has sequenced over 60,000 SARS-CoV-2 samples. This work tracked transmission in hospitals, prisons and care homes in East Anglia, and contributed to identifying the emergence of variants of concern, guiding government policy in the UK and around the world.
The team was also delighted to be able to reach out to low-income countries to assist in sequencing COVID-19, including training and capacity building. In Zimbabwe, this helped guide both local responses and the global surveillance of new variants.
Partnership of the Year
Winner: INOGOV â Innovations in Climate Governance; Prof Andy Jordan and Dr Johanna Forster, School of Environmental Sciences, School of International Development and Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
âIt means a lot to have won this award. It was a large project team who all worked so hard on this. Iâm really thrilled.â
International climate policy emerges at glacial speed, but new forms of governing are nonetheless appearing at the city level and in the private sector. The problem is that non-state responses to the climate emergency are often too dynamic and diffuse to be comprehended via a conventional research project. Therefore, Dr Forster and Prof Jordan opted for a looser style of working, forging an international partnership of 28 countries to leverage impact well beyond academia.
Funded for four years (2014-18) INOGOV was hugely productive: a book of its main findings has been downloaded over 90,000 times. Of the 669 partnerships funded in the period 2014-20, an independent evaluation placed INOGOV amongst the four most impactful. Another evaluation concluded that its impacts had been ânothing short of remarkableâ.
Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Achievement
Winner: Future and Form of Literature
Pictured: Chancellor Karen Jones (left) and Prof Henry Sutton (right)
What will writing look like in fifty yearsâ time? This was the question the project set out to explore with six renowned writers and alumni of UEAâs Creative Writing Programme, celebrating its 50th anniversary. The resulting multi-disciplinary and experimental works illustrate the interface between contemporary literature, storytelling and technology.
Over five hundred writers, academics, artists, creatives, students and school children were involved in making Future and Form, which launched at Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2021. With further representation at the national Being Human festival and Norwich Science Festival in the autumn, the project continues online at www.futureandform.net.
Nearly 400,000 people have engaged with the works in person and online so far. Artforms and genuinely new technologies used in the making of Future and Form will provide springboards for future projects and industry applications, while numerous partnerships were forged and consolidated.
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