Triple success for DMU at Leicestershire Innovation Awards

There was a hat trick of awards for De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) at last night’s Leicestershire Innovation awards, recognising academic innovation and a hugely successful graduate start-up.

The awards recognise the most innovative businesses and entrepreneurs from across Leicester and Leicestershire. This year saw a record number of entries across 10 categories with judges having to choose from more than 120 entries to shortlist just 30.

Harsh and Dave winner

DMU won the Innovation in Education category for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the East Midlands Chamber. The project designed Insight Unlocked, an online database that harnesses open-access data and AI to give real-time information on the supply and demand of skills in the region. It has supported the region to secure an additional £3million for skills projects.

The project was led by Professor David Rae and associate Harsh Shah who collected the award. Harsh was an international student from India who had just finished his Master's at DMU when he began work on the project and has since got a full-time role at the Chamber. Professor Rae said: “The KTP between East Midlands Chamber and DMU developed the innovative Collective Intelligence Skills Observatory (CISO) as a new business for EMC which enables better decision-making in education, skills and careers.

“A KTP is an ideal vehicle for businesses to expedite innovations, supported by University expertise and a talented Associate.

“KTPs have the potential to enable businesses to make transformative gains in essential areas such as their productivity, value creation for customers, new market development and environmental performance, all resulting in enhanced commercial performance.

“This award is a welcome recognition of the quality of the partnership, academic and professional support, and graduate skills which DMU brings to its KTP and Knowledge Exchange work.”

Jim winer

Professor Jim Shen won the Innovation in Creative award for his work with company Camira Fabrics to develop a high-performance fabric that is fire resistant – but without the use of any chemicals which can harm the environment.

The fabric was created from renewably sourced bast fibers – nettle, hemp and flax – blended with wool. Traditional FR treatments often involve chemicals that can be detrimental to the environment and human health. By eliminating these chemicals, the fabric not only meets safety standards but also aligns with a growing demand for eco-friendly alternatives.

Professor Shen said: “We are immensely delighted to receive this prestigious Award for the recognition of our successful collaboration work between De Montfort University and Camira Fabrics and our commitment towards sustainable textile materials and their recycling and reuse to support the textile industry transition to a circular system."

DMU graduate Simon Sansome’s multi award winning Snowball app collected another prize when he took home the University Student Innovation award, open to students, spin-out companies and graduates. Snowball is now the world’s biggest disability review app, allowing people all over the world to rate and review restaurants, pubs, tourist attractions and venues for their accessibility sharing information and creating an inclusive community.

Simon, who was supported by DMU’s Crucible business incubation programme, is just back from Spain where he was in the world finals of the Santander X competition, placing third in the world’s best start-ups.

He was unable to attend the innovation awards because he was in London for the British Diversity Awards, where he was nominated for two awards. He said; “We’re thrilled to have won the University Student Innovation Award at the Leicestershire Innovation Awards. It’s a real testament to Snowball and our impact on empowering individuals. Thanks for everyone’s help and support.”

LIA team shot

The full list of winners from the Leicestershire Innovation Awards are:

Innovation Catalyst – Tobias Gould

Innovation in Creative – Camira Fabrics and De Montfort University

Innovation in Education and Community – De Montfort University and East Midlands Chamber

Innovation in Food and Drink – The Bug Factory

Innovation in Space – Rolls Royce

Innovation in Sport, Wellbeing and Accessibility – Moti Me

Innovation in STEM Industries – Loughborough University Rolls Royce

Innovation in Sustainability – Abacus Flooring Solutions

University Student Innovation – Snowball

Posted on Thursday 21 March 2024

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