Alok Sharma MP

Physics-based companies receive IOP Business Awards at parliamentary event

Alok Sharma MPEmployment Minister Alok Sharma MP spoke at the presentation of our Business Awards to 12 innovative companies at a reception in parliament on 16 October, mentioning his high regard for the IOP and urging physicists to be much more vocal about the difference they are making to society.

Sharma, a former physicist who has sponsored the annual event since its inception, said: “In this country we are a nation of entrepreneurs, but the trouble with physicists is that we are all too shy – we are not good at saying what we are doing and the difference we are making.”

He said the number of entries had multiplied greatly since he was involved in the judging panel for the first awards. Now in its seventh year, the 2018 IOP Business Awards include six Business Innovation Awards and six Business Start-Up Awards – a new category that recognises young companies with a great business idea founded on a physics invention, with a great growth potential and/or the potential of significant societal impact.

Our President, Professor Dame Julia Higgins, said that the IOP Business Awards were one of the few, and possibly the only, awards that recognise and reward companies that have built success on the creative application of physics. Speaking at the reception, she said: “The range of technologies and applications that tonight’s winners represent showcases the diversity and breadth of physics and the benefits it can bring to a host of industries in the UK and Ireland. Physics is a wonderful subject because you never come to the end of it.

“These awards shine a light on the potential of physics to produce cutting-edge technologies, to drive business innovation and growth and to stimulate far-reaching social and economic change. They also remind us that these benefits can only be sustained with continued investment and a healthy supply of physicists and other STEM-trained people.”

She said the IOP was very excited to be presenting the Business Start-Up Awards to companies for the first time. “We trust that the award will reward their staff, raise their profile and accelerate their business growth,” she said.

The judging panel for the 2018 awards was chaired by our Vice-President for Business, Dr James McKenzie (pictured left), who said that this year saw the highest level of entries to date and the panel had chosen some truly exceptional winners. Before inviting them to receive their awards from Dame Julia, he spoke about the Government’s Industrial Strategy, which outlines a vision for the UK to become the world’s most innovative economy by 2030, and mentioned our report on physics in the UK economy, which showed that physics-based businesses employ two million people in the UK and contribute £177bn in gross value-added.

Following the presentations, he encouraged winners and guests to join our Business Innovation and Growth Group. “This was founded last year to support businesses like yours,” he said, and announced that the group would hold an exciting programme of events in 2019, including a conference at our new building in King’s Cross on 26 February with Sir Martin Sweeting, Founder and Executive Chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology, as the keynote speaker.

The six IOP Business Innovation Award winners are: EndoMag for the development of a Sentimag surgical guidance system; Innovative Physics for Hot Spot Locators – radiation imaging systems that identify the type and location of radiation, while reducing exposure and saving lives; Leonardo for the development of an Advanced Directed Infrared Countermeasure System: Miysis DIRCM; PepsiCo for the development of breakthrough snack products through application of soft matter physics; Plastipack for the development of an innovative new swimming pool cover that saves energy and reduces chemical consumption; and Sonobex for the development of Low Frequency Industrial Noise Control by Acoustic.

The six IOP Business Start-Up Award winners are: Causeway Sensors for the development of a nanotechnology-based point of care solution for the detection of pathogens; Creavo Medical Technologies for the development of innovative diagnostics technology for acute medicine; Lynkeos for the development of Muon imaging systems for the 3D-characterisation of shielded containers and structures; ONI for the development of the world’s first desktop-sized super-resolution microscope; Stream Bio for the development of nontoxic, fluorescent, magnetic nanoparticles for bioimaging, therapeutics, diagnostics and environmental detection; and York Instruments for the development of next-generation MEG brain scanners for use in research and healthcare.

You can view some photos from the parliamentary reception on Flickr.

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