Pioneering businesses shaping south coast’s post-COVID recovery

Magma Global M-Pipe

South coast local businesses are getting ready to build back better after coronavirus with support from Innovate UK.

  • From smart cities to subsea piping, trailblazing businesses are helping the south coast to build back better
  • industry, government, universities and local enterprise partnerships are working together to benefit people on the south coast and the whole of the UK
  • next week’s Innovate Local event will showcase the excitement of innovation and provide advice for businesses wanting support.

The south coast’s pioneering businesses are crucial to help the area and the whole country to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19, and government support is available to help them do it.

This is the message from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, and Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, which will next week showcase some of the great south coast success stories they are supporting. The free, virtual Southern Pioneers conference and exhibition will take place on 8 and 9 March 2021.

Help for SMEs

Over the last four years, Innovate UK has awarded £81 million to small and medium-sized enterprises, supporting 494 projects across:

  • Hampshire
  • Isle of Wight
  • Surrey
  • West Sussex.

Case studies detailing the work of some of these businesses can be found below. They include:

  • the system that reveals how we are using our city centres
  • the subsea composite piping solving corrosion challenges across the globe
  • an online platform helping out-of-work theatre performers and crew
  • the digital communications tech that helps frontline healthcare staff to communicate through the barrier created by Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Reacting and adapting

David Legg, Innovate UK’s South East Regional Manager, said:

The south coast is packed with pioneering organisations that are leading the way with tech that’s put to use on the floors of our oceans, up in space, and everything in-between.

Speakers at the Southern Pioneers event will explain how they made their ideas a reality, and the ways in which they are now reacting and adapting in order to help our local economies recover following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Award-winning business founders, will describe their journey to success through innovating, securing angel or venture capitalist-investment; and how they went about launching new products at scale.

Free advice

Those who log into the Southern Pioneers event will hear from inspirational speakers, including:

  • Karen Lucas, CEO of Vikoma
  • Matt Albans, Lead Innovation Technologist of BAE Systems
  • Chris Manson, CEO of Newable.

There will be free advice available for businesses looking for investment or support to innovate, as well as the practical sessions focusing on writing funding bids and pitches.

Examples of Innovate UK-backed innovation on the south coast:

The Southampton-born system capturing vital data about our city centres

With support from Innovate UK, nquiringminds, a Southampton-based business, is helping UK cities to work in a more connected way.

As our city centres adapt to huge changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, nquiringminds’ Trusted Data Exchange (TDX) helps a city share and analyse vital data in order gain critical insights for improvement.

The TDX system has already been adopted by Southampton City Council, as well as the towns and cities of:

  • Portsmouth
  • Oxford
  • Bournemouth
  • Belfast

The system allows data from databases, devices and sensors to be shared and analysed in real time.

Nick Allott, chief executive, explains how nquiringminds was able to get on with developing the TDX after securing a £1 million Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) contract with Innovate UK, in 2015:

Without the contract from Innovate UK, we would not have been able to develop the secure technology needed to make a real difference to sharing data in a meaningful and insightful way.

The Portsmouth-developed subsea piping being adopted across the globe

Magma Global is poised for rapid growth after several world leading oil companies and contractors signed deals to use its high performance composite pipe for subsea hydrocarbon operations. Seen as a global leader in composite materials science and engineering, Magma has developed m-pipe into the world’s most advanced subsea oil and gas pipe.

M-pipe can safely transport hydrocarbon fluids in corrosive, high temperature and high pressure environments that challenge traditional materials such as steel and other plastics. It is made from carbon fibre and PEEK, the highest performing polymer, supplied by UK company and Magma investor Victrex. These are fused together using robotic lasers to make a strong, flexible pipe that is 10 times lighter than steel.

Magma’s products have been adopted by the notoriously risk averse oil and gas industry. M-pipe has been described as the pivotal solution to enable safe and efficient oil production in Brazil, where corrosion in 3000m water depths has historically disrupted supply through costly maintenance challenges.

With support from Innovate UK, a company that began as a technology innovator has transformed into a successful manufacturer, exporting 90% of its products abroad and solving mission critical engineering challenges. Magma now employs 80 people at its base in Portsmouth.

The Brighton-born platform providing a new stage for entertainment creatives and technicians

Curtain Call is an online platform established to provide everyone who works in entertainment and events with equal access to networking and job opportunities.

Job insecurity and periods of unemployment are unfortunately nothing new for artists, and the members of the crew and production teams, but COVID-19 has brought even greater challenges.

In light of this, Curtain Call’s Brighton-based team has developed the platform into an easy-to-access virtual community, which promotes skills, and connects freelancers to opportunities.

The vision was always to create an equitable ‘stage’ for the entertainment and events community, where everyone is valued. Thanks to an Innovate UK Fast Start funded project, the Curtain Call platform is set to become stronger and even more successful post-pandemic.

Brighton innovation changes the face of healthcare across the globe

Brighton local, Dr Rachael Grimaldi, created the innovative CardMedic digital flashcard system in response to the global crisis in communication in healthcare. She was inspired by a news article about a critically ill COVID-19 patient who struggled to understand healthcare staff through PPE.

From concept to launch in 72 hours, CardMedic has more than 46,000 users in 120 countries and over 16,000 app downloads since April 2020.

The pandemic has unearthed the huge gap in service provision for patients with underlying communication difficulties. It has also exposed the health inequalities suffered by this group of patients who make up nearly 20% of the UK population.

Backed by Innovate UK funding since July 2020, CardMedic allows frontline healthcare staff to communicate with patients across any barrier, whether it’s:

  • visual, hearing or cognitive impairment (including stroke, dementia, learning disabilities, autism and more)
  • language barriers
  • literacy issues.

Patients and healthcare workers can access an A-Z list of flashcards that replicate clinical conversations around common healthcare topics. Through this software, staff can talk to patients about their care, including medical procedures and investigations.

Dr Grimaldi has been awarded a place on the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme, and yesterday, CardMedic was named one of the Department for International Trade’s “Top 25 Ones to Watch” list for international expansion.

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