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BBSRC Business

Connecting our science with industry, policy makers and society

Spring 2014

Luke Alphey wins Innovator of the Year 2014 at BBSRC's Fostering Innovation awards

Copyright: Tim Gander
  • Activating Impact award for Queen Mary University of London and King's College London
  • Luke Alphey, The Pirbright Institute, wins Social Innovator category and is named overall winner
  • Curtis Dobson, The University of Manchester, wins Commercial Innovator
  • Cathie Martin and Eugenio Butelli, The John Innes Centre wins Most Promising Innovator

Luke Alphey, The Pirbright Institute, has been named BBSRC Innovator of the Year 2014, with Queen Mary University of London and King's College London winning BBSRC's Impact Awards for KEC professionals competition. The two contests form part of BBSRC's Fostering innovation suite of competitions to promote excellence among researchers, knowledge exchange practitioners, departments and institutions by recognising successful approaches to innovation and impact in the biosciences.

Working in partnership with scientists and research organisations the competitions promote long-term strategies encouraging researchers and their institutions to accelerate the outcomes of world-class bioscience research to tangible economic and social benefits. The winners and runners-up received their awards at the competition finals in London following assessment by an independent panel of expert judges.

Innovator of the Year, now in its sixth year, recognises and rewards BBSRC-funded scientists who are turning the UK's excellent bioscience research into exciting outcomes with potential to generate economic growth and improve quality of life.

Luke Alphey's work has focused on the genetic control of pest insects (Oxitec Ltd), including the dengue fever-carrying mosquito. He said: "It is such a great honour to win Innovator of the Year – particularly when there is such stiff competition. Tonight really showcases how innovations from UK bioscience are tackling such a huge range of challenges"

He was presented with a trophy and £30,000 to support research, training or other activities promoting economic or social impact.

Activating Impact acknowledges and celebrates successful Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation (KEC) teams or individuals at BBSRC-funded research organisations making essential contributions to delivering real-world impact from bioscience research.

The winners were Queen Mary University of London and King's College London who will receive £100,000 to contribute to innovative KEC strategies fostering innovation from BBSRC-funded research.

Commenting on the Activating Impact award, Cath Lavery, Head of Business Development at Queen Mary University of London said: "It is wonderful that the collaborative efforts of our professional services teams across the university have been recognised with this BBSRC Activating Impact award. By working together we have achieved a great deal and this award will help us to roll out new initiatives to support our BBSRC-funded researchers to maximise the impact of their research."

Michael Hill-King, from King's College London said: "Winning this award is fantastic. It validates the innovative approaches we have deployed to help our researchers get impact from their activities. This award will help us to build on the successes we have had in the biosciences."

Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Executive Director, Innovation and Skills, said: "As with previous years this has been an outstanding competition with a wonderful group of finalists. My congratulations to them all: the winners, runners-up and finalists.

"Both Innovator of the Year and Activating Impact are great ways to promote innovation; building partnerships, increasing participation and ultimately helping researchers deliver economic and social benefits to people around the world from their BBSRC-funded science.

"Delivering real-world impacts from the excellent bioscience BBSRC funds will be essential to meet some of the challenges the world faces, which is why these innovators deserve the recognition they have earned tonight."

As part of the Innovator of the Year competition Curtis Dobson, The University of Manchester, won Commercial Innovator and Cathie Martin and Eugenio Butelli, The John Innes Centre won Most Promising Innovator.


Notes to editors

See our special features:

The finalists for Innovator of the Year were:

Commercial innovator

  • Curtis Dobson, The University of Manchester – Serial innovations focussing on the treatment or detection of infectious agents on medical device surfaces
  • Neil Gibbs and Catherine O'Neill, The University of Manchester – Novel approaches to safe skin healthcare – Curapel
  • Ross Houston and Steve Bishop, The Roslin Institute, The University of Edinburgh – A genetic test for disease resistant Atlantic salmon

Social innovator

  • Luke Alphey, The Pirbright Institute – Genetic control of pest insects (Oxitec Ltd)
  • Neil Bruce and team, University of York – Engineering plants for the remediation of explosives pollution
  • Andy Greenland and team, National Institute of Agricultural Botany – Re-synthesis of hexaploid genomes for wheat improvement

Most promising innovator

  • Che John Connon, University of Reading – Gel encapsulation as an alternative to cryopreservation for the storage and shipment of therapeutic cells
  • John Love and team, University of Exeter – Fourth generation biofuels: The production of retail-grade diesel by synthetic biology
  • Cathie Martin and Eugenio Butelli, John Innes Centre – Enhancement of bioactives in crops for comparative nutritional assays and nutritional improvement

The finalists for Activating Impact were:

  • King's College London
  • Newcastle University
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • University College London
  • University of Aberdeen