The annual KE Awards from Praxis Auril is a national ceremony, supported by UKRI, to recognise the exceptional work of UK Knowledge Exchange and the people, partnerships, deals and initiatives that deliver world-class KE.

The recently launched £17 million Innovation Centre for Applied Sustainable Technologies (iCAST) at the University of Bath has been shortlisted as a finalist for Net Zero Project of the Year.

iCAST brings together industry with expertise at the Universities of Bath and Oxford, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult’s National Composites Centre and Centre for Process Innovation, innovation experts at SETsquared, SWLEP and investors.

The Research England funded innovation hub supports companies working on clean growth technologies, translating sustainable chemical technology research into commercial products. In doing so, iCAST is tackling global challenges including climate change, sustainable development and plastic pollution.

Professor Matthew Davidson, Director of iCAST, says:

It’s an honour to be recognised for such a significant priority as achieving Net Zero, and to be short-listed is a testament to the dedication and talent of all of the iCAST staff. With over 70 member companies on board already, ranging from spinouts, high growth SMEs and multinational corporates, the iCAST partnership is delivering real-world impact by focussing its world class research expertise towards commercialisation of new sustainable technologies, clean growth and investment.

The acquisition this year of University spin-out Gen3D by Altair, global leader in computational science and artificial intelligence (AI), has also been shortlisted for Commercial Deal of the Year.

Gen3D was founded in 2018 by three researchers in the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering – Dr Vimal Dhokia, Dr Wesley Essink, and Dr Joseph Flynn. The spin-out was a game changer for design engineers, offering design software and consultancy to help engineers rapidly create complex components for the additive manufacturing process.

In 2022 Gen3D was acquired by Altair in a commercial deal that will have a huge impact on various sectors and industries, including aerospace engineering globally. For example, a developed component which is 3D printed can weigh 85% less than existing parts which, if used in aeroplanes, will result in less fuel usage due to less mass in the plane.

Stephanie Buckner, Chief Operating Officer at Altair, says:

Gen3D is a pioneer in leveraging the freedom of design for additive manufacturing, unlocking the power of implicit geometry and reducing the risk of costly 3D printing failures. In addition to powerful technology that helps organizations navigate the challenges of design for additive manufacturing, the Gen3D team brings deep industry knowledge, which we welcome into the Altair family.

Both finalists were supported by Research and Innovation Services (RIS) at the University of Bath to develop their KE innovations. Simon Bond, Innovation Director for SETsquared, the global #1 university business incubator, worked with Professor Davidson to help establish the iCAST and secure £5 million from the Research England Development (RED) Fund. Both the Technology Transfer team and Research and Commercialisation Contracts team in RIS provided specialist support to Gen3D in both spinning-out and the subsequent acquisition.

Dr Steven Boakes, Head of Business Partnerships and Knowledge Exchange in Research and Innovation Services (RIS) which supported the developed of both initiatives, says:

To have two shortlisted finalists recognised nationally at the Praxis Auril KE Awards is exceptional and a reflection of the outstanding Knowledge Exchange and culture of KE that we have institutionally at the University of Bath. We wish both finalists the best of luck for the national ceremony and look forward to the results.

The Praxis Auril KE Awards 2022 will be taking place in Manchester on 29 November.