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Innovate UK
Innovate UK

The gift of innovation

Posted by: and , Posted on: - Categories: ISCF, Support

It’s just thirteen more cooking, decorating, planning and shopping days to Christmas, for those of you who celebrate it.  And while Christmas might look a bit different this year – we’re looking for board games to play over Zoom, for example – life still goes on.

So, we thought we’d share some information about some projects UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has funded this year through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). All of which, you may notice, have a distinct Christmassy theme . . .

Smart presents

We might be showing our ages but what child hasn’t dreamt of a bike for Christmas? Frog Bikes is a British company dedicated to making cycling fun for children. Awarded funding through the Manufacturing Made Smarter challenge, Frog Bikes has reimagined kids' bikes, creating a light but strong aluminum frame, and hand-picking components that offer great performance without adding unnecessary weight.

Because the lighter the bike, the easier it is for children to learn to ride and enjoy it. And, of course, with lighter bikes, Santa can carry more on his sleigh and give Rudolph and co a rest.

Do you always get too many socks at Christmas? What about socks that tell you useful things (and not just that you have smelly feet)? Because one of the projects funded by our Healthy Ageing Catalysts Awards has devised ‘smart’ socks that can detect muscle degeneration in older people.

We’re just about to launch phase two of those awards so if you think you can come up with an even brighter idea we’re running some sessions for early career and other researchers to find out more.

Rescuing the reindeer

Meanwhile, the Electric Vehicle Fleet Local Energy System (EFLES) project, funded by the Prospering from the Energy Revolution challenge, is helping to reduce the carbon footprint of Christmas parcel deliveries.

The project is supporting parcel firm UPS, to work with an electricity network operator, UKPN, Moixa, a leading energy software developer, and the Cross-River Partnership, to trial state-of-the-art clean energy at UPS’s London hub. The project will make it easier to switch to an all-electric fleet while supporting the local and wider UK electricity networks.

So, when the reindeer need a break, Santa and his elves – including friends and family - can stop worrying about carbon emissions from transporting presents.

All wrapped up

Who hasn’t groaned at the post-apocalyptic landscape that’s the room in which you unwrap presents on Christmas morning? Don’t you just wish you could dump it all in one bin without feeling guilty about not splitting out the recycling?

One bin to Rule them all, a research project led by The University of Manchester and funded by the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging challenge, is here to help your wish come true. The idea behind this project is incredibly simple: you put everything in one bin and the resulting jumble of products is easily and cleanly sorted into valuable constituents for reuse, recycling or repurposing.

Protecting Santa’s data

With more and more people, including Santa, working from home in a post-COVID-19 world, companies’ data is at greater risk of attack. With funding from the ISCF Next Generation Services, Orpheus Cyber can now predict specific risks with impressive accuracy, helping safeguard critical data, including Santa’s location at the North Pole (just in case the Grinch gets any ideas) and that all important naughty list.

Home for Christmas

The star on top of the ISCF Transforming Construction challenge tree is STELLAR.  The STELLAR project is providing social housing developers the tools and business models they need to provide affordable homes across the UK in line with demand. Much like Father Christmas distributing presents across the country on Christmas Eve, STELLAR will be developing a way to deliver modular homes from a central manufacturing ‘hub’ to local SME-operated spoke factories, ensuring everyone has an affordable and high-quality roof over their heads.

And, also on the theme of decent homes . . . if you’re over 55, and Santa has damaged your roof or chimney after too many mince pies, you might be interested in a project, funded by the Healthy Ageing ‘trailblazers’ competition. London Rebuilding Company is piloting a scheme to improve homes in disrepair while releasing equity so that older people can live more warmly and comfortably, and maybe even fund live-in care. Who knows, perhaps even Santa himself will benefit from some home repairs – and some live-in elves to help him don that red suit and black boots?

Have a great, restful, and safe break, everyone – we’ll see you in the New Year.

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