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Boosting the Welsh economy

26 June 2012

David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science, and Welsh Secretary of State Cheryl Gillan MP were among the guests at the University’s annual Innovation and Impact Awards (25 June 2012), which celebrate the impact of excellent research and practice at Cardiff University.

Picking up awards in the categories of Innovation in Healthcare and in Social, Cultural or Policy Impact; and prizes for Business Innovation and for Regional Impact were leading academics and their collaborators from across the spectrum of University research and industry development.

Each was recognised for helping strengthen the Welsh economy by creating highly-skilled jobs and businesses; for innovative examples of commercialisation and knowledge transfer; and for significant impact on an area of policy or practice.

A cutting-edge project that has improved wireless communication and had a positive economic impact in South Wales won the Regional Impact Award, presented at the ceremony by the Rt Hon Cheryl Gillan MP.

Professors Johannes Benedikt and Paul Tasker of the School of Engineering worked with Cardiff University spin-out company Mesuro, to commercialise their research on how to engineer waveforms at very high frequencies, reducing the energy footprint of networks and increasing the wireless communication operational times of mobile phones.

The Innovation in Healthcare Award was awarded to Professor Judith Hall of the University’s School of Medicine and to Mountain Ash-based Flexicare Medical for their invention and production of the Hall Lock, a system designed to prevent wrong route injections for patients.

The system eliminates the possibility of mis-administering drugs to patients, which although rare, can be extremely serious. The product uses a series of connectors which can only link with the correct fitting, rather than the common locking mechanism currently in use.

A research project that is having a direct impact in improving maritime safety by reducing seafarers’ fatigue was awarded the Social, Cultural or Policy Impact Award.

Professor Andrew Smith and Paul Allen, from the University’s School of Psychology helped increase understanding of the factors that cause fatigue at sea, and their work has played a part in new maritime legislation and company policy.

The last award of the evening, the Business Innovation Prize, presented by the Rt Hon David Willetts MP was awarded to Professor Chris McGuigan of the Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Bristol-Myers Squibb for the significant healthcare, commercial and economic impact arising from the discovery and clinical development of new anti-viral drugs.

Along with a massive potential impact for patients worldwide, the collaboration has immersed researchers and students in drug discovery and progression, attracted significant investment and generated highly-skilled jobs in the biotechnology sector in Cardiff and America.

William Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who launched the awards 14 years ago sent a message of congratulations to the award winners.

Cardiff University’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant said: "I am delighted to welcome David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, and Cheryl Gillan, Secretary of State for Wales to Cardiff University to see first-hand the impact that Cardiff’s research is having on society, policy, healthcare and the economy.

Cardiff is at the forefront of innovation and collaboration in Wales, creating highly-skilled jobs and generating significant investment in the region and further afield.

"The Innovation and Impact Awards recognise some of the best examples of collaboration, commercialisation and impact within the University's research community. I congratulate all of the award winners for their outstanding achievements."

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: "Cardiff University has a strong track record of producing world-class research which has an impact on society and the economy. I’m pleased to be here to present the awards to researchers who are continuing this great tradition.

"Innovation is essential to competitiveness and to driving higher living standards. Commercialisation of those new innovations is central to our growth agenda. Only by always looking ahead to the next problem and finding a way of solving it, like we have seen here at Cardiff, can we make sure that the UK maintains its world-class reputation for innovation and research."

Welsh Secretary of State Cheryl Gillan MP said: "This is an evening for celebration and the perfect opportunity to highlight the important role the academic world can play in supporting industry in Wales.

"Innovation is key to successful business and is about much more than just developing new products - it is also about recognising the benefits that can be had by working closely with others.

"These awards celebrate the very best partnerships that led to innovation which can contribute significantly to our goal of strengthening the economy in Wales.

"I would like to congratulate the award winners on their achievements, and wish them every success in the future."

The Innovation and Impact Awards Competition is organised under the auspices of Cardiff University Innovation Network; the business/university network established in 1996.

The Awards are an opportunity for Cardiff University academic staff to showcase their innovative collaborations with business and other non-academic organisations, demonstrating the positive impact that universities can have on economy and society.

The 2012 Innovation and Impact Awards were sponsored by Geldards Law Firm and Fusion IP.


Notes to editors

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities.  Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University President Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Three major new Research Institutes, offering radical new approaches to neurosciences and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places were announced by the University in 2010.


For further information or photographs of the award winners contact:

Victoria Dando

Public Relations

Cardiff University

Tel: 02920 879074