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Warwick IMRC 'Dragons' find winning projects

27 November 2007
Warwick Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre, based within WMG at the University of Warwick, is to put forward four innovative research projects for up to £10 million in grant funding.
WIMRC held it’s own ‘Dragons’ Den’ competition in order to identify teams of researchers to present their ideas for funding as Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Centre Grand Challenge projects.
The event, held at the International Manufacturing Centre on Tuesday 20 November, was a forum for teams of researchers to present their ideas for ambitious and innovative research into areas relevant to industry. The winners will now go forward to compete in the Midlands IMRCs regional final where the top three ideas will form the basis of three Grand Challenge submissions to EPSRC for up to £10 million in grant funding.
The winning projects are:
1st : 3D Electronics – Dr Duncan Billson’s team (School of Engineering)
Joint 2nd: There-Reality – Professor Alan Chalmers (WMG)
Joint 2nd: OptoVibe - Biomedical Applications of Optical Detection of Vibration – Dr Daciana Iliescu’s team (School of Engineering)
4th: The Ultimate Driving Simulator – Dr Paul Jennings’ team (WMG)
Dr Billson, whose specialist research area is micro stereo lithography, explained his idea: “We think we can take a normal circuit board and, by creating a 3D platform, squeeze all the electronics into a board the size of a matchbox.
“This would result in lower production, storage and transportation costs; less harm to the environment because we would cut down on the amount of waste created with normal circuit boards and even smaller electronic consumer goods, such as mobile phones and laptops, than we have now.”
Following the model for the popular BBC programme in which five self made millionaires invest their personal money in projects presented by inventors/entrepreneurs, each of the Midlands’ IMRCs (Warwick, Nottingham, Cranfield and Loughborough) invited researchers from their host university to present ideas to a panel of five ‘Dragons’ consisting of people from the university and its management/steering groups. The ‘Dragons’ each had a notional sum of funding which they allocated to the various proposals and the idea which accumulated the most funding was the winner.  Prizes were awarded for the top ideas and these will go forward to compete in the Midlands Regional Final. 
The ‘Dragons’ for the University of Warwick event were:
Phil Ruffles, former Technical Director, Rolls Royce
Kerry Mashford, Head of Sustainable Manufacturing & Construction, Arup
David Clark, Principal Fellow, Senior Advisor to the Director, WMG
Christopher Moir, Principal Fellow, Economics, WMG
Christopher Moir, who ‘backed’ Dr Billson’s project to the tune of £1 million, said: “If what Duncan and his colleagues propose works it would offer scope for huge economic benefit around the world. In electronics what makes computers so cheap in part is the existence of common industry standards, and interoperability of different components.  A major attraction of what Duncan and his colleagues were saying is none of this very important infrastructure would have to change.
“Overall a project with large potential, but with masses of uncertainty over technical, market and financial risk.  When it comes to balancing  risk and reward I had no doubt that offering a million was a suitably risk averse balance.”
For more information please visit the WIMRC website
Or contact Nick Mallinson