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East Midlands Chamber News

News from the colleges and universities

Platelet Solutions

Pioneering Test Kit Saves Lives

A pioneering UK test kit developed by an ambitious Nottingham bio-tech business could save lives worldwide among patients at risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Platelet Solutions Ltd was formed in 2011 and has benefited from £25,000 funding from Nottingham Technology Grant Fund (N’Tech), which is a key part of the city’s bold Growth Plan.

N’Tech is part of the £50m Nottingham Prospectus, the city’s package to attract further investment to boost Nottingham’s economy; grants are funded solely through the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF).

So far, 22 successful applications across the digital content, life sciences and clean technology sectors has seen N’Tech grants awarded to the value of nearly £1.8m.

The business based at Queen’s Medical Centre’s Cardiovascular Medicine Unit, has identified a system – in a palm-sized box – which identifies whether medicines that reduce blood clots are actually achieving the health benefits they are prescribed for.

The company has also gained the support of a £100,000 University of Nottingham loan which, along with the N’Tech grant, will help the business roll out the test kit to health professionals.

Founder and company director Professor Stan Heptinstall envisages the Platelet Solutions system being rolled out initially to the private health care sector.

A world authority in his field and editor-in-chief of the international journal Platelets, Prof Heptinstall has been writing papers and researching the subject since 1972. He said: “The University and N’Tech has provided us with the backing we need to move forward because they can see the eventual end product and end results for patients.

“In five to 10 years time I would hope to see the testing kit available in GP surgeries, health centres and for home visits as part of the NHS. It ensures that drugs can be targeted properly at patients, it will save money and it will save lives.”

The system means money could be saved in ensuring the correct drugs – and potentially the ones which offer best value – are correctly targeted to meet the differing needs of patients.

Prof Heptinstall said drugs commonly used to reduce blood clots are antiplatelet agents – but not all the drugs are effective in all people at risk of conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and thrombosis. There is currently no easily accessible test to make sure that the medical experts can identify which drug is the best possible for them.

The test kit devised by Platelet Solutions Ltd is a potential lifesaver because it identifies certain drugs which do not work for certain people. Clearance from the regulatory authorities to go to market is due in around three months.

Prof Heptinstall pointed towards the use of the common drug clopidogrel which he says is currently prescribed to 250,000 people in the UK, when research shows it is only effective in 60 per cent of users.

The decision to prescribe it so widely is taken because research shows that among the patients who do benefit, it slashes the number of medical emergencies. However, in the remaining 40 per cent of people it is ineffective and they are therefore, in essence, going without treatment.

Prof Heptinstall said the kit could have worldwide implications because there is, to his knowledge, no comparably simple test system available. The Platelet testing kit comes in a six inch by four inch box with the cost currently set to be rolled out at between £30 to £50.

The company currently employs one person, is taking on another scientist and an administration assistant following the N’Tech grant.

Dr Susan Huxtable, the University of Nottingham’s, Director of Intellectual Property, said Platelets’ work was “A great example of how it is possible to take exciting early stage technology from the University and transform it into a product or service which has the potential to have significant societal and economic impact.”

She said: “We always welcome the opportunity to meet with people who are interested in working with or investing in our spin-out businesses or licensing and developing the many exciting new ideas arising from the University’s research base.”

Nottingham City Council has secured £10m from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund for N’Tech grants to help fast track the development plans of businesses based in the city. The funding can provide grants of £20,000, up to £1m per successful company to support business growth and expansion.

Councillor Nick McDonald, Portfolio Holder for Jobs and Growth for Nottingham City Council said: “We are delighted to be able to make this award to Platelet Solutions.

"Nottingham has a well-deserved historical reputation for discovery and innovation in the life sciences and through supporting companies like this, we’re developing important clusters of expertise based in the city.

"The applications from research at our award-winning Universities are endless, and they’re highly proficient at working with business to make those ideas a commercial reality, as Platelet Solutions shows. Life science is a key sector for our city and we watch the development of companies like this eagerly as they make waves in the scientific community and in practical healthcare.”

Geared towards the growing life science, digital content and clean technology sectors, the N’Tech fund is run by Nottingham City Council and was launched on 1 April this year. The programme is focused on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within the greater Nottingham area to support business growth and expansion.

Rod Dubrow-Marshall

New Deputy Vice-Chancellor appointed By University of Derby

The University of Derby has announced the appointment of Professor Rod Dubrow-Marshall to the post of Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Rod will join Derby on 1 March from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), where he is currently Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience.

Rod is a psychologist by original discipline, an active researcher and a graduate of the University of Nottingham, from whom he also received his PhD. Prior to joining UCLan he was Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Glamorgan.

Within his Derby portfolio Rod will be taking the lead for the University in its relationships with academic partners and the professions, and will oversee the University’s regional footprint.

Professor John Coyne, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to appoint Rod to this exciting portfolio at such a pivotal time in the development of the University of Derby. We are well placed to build upon our current success and I am confident that Rod will bring a great deal to the University from his previous experience. "

Professor Dubrow-Marshall added: “I look forward to joining the University of Derby and am very excited about the vision, mission and strengths of the University as the top provider of higher education in the region.

“I am passionate about the transformational qualities of education at all levels and am enthusiastic about the role the University of Derby can play in positively transforming the lives of students, families and local communities. I am really looking forward to taking up my new role in March.”

Fashion Learners Set Brief by Paul Smith

Fashion and Textile learners at Burton and South Derbyshire College have been assigned a special brief by leading fashion designer, Paul Smith, after visiting in his studio in Covent Garden, London.

During the visit, learners were made to feel at home as Paul encouraged them to look round his office and ask questions.

Paul spoke to them in depth about the industry, his work and how he got started in the fashion industry. After an inspirational talk looking at his collection of objects, explaining where he gets his inspiration from and how the design process works, learners were given a tour around the head office.

This included the design offices which learners were able to talk to the designers about current trends, how designs are started, the techniques and processes used, and how garments are developed.

At the end of the day, learners presented Paul with a pair of shoes they had made from a variety of textiles techniques for his collection and to thank him for his time, which he then went on to feature on BBC Two programme, The Culture Show.

Learners are now working on a short assignment set by Paul to create fashion designs based on a room of their choice. Their work will then be photographed and sent to Paul for feedback.

Emma Strange, Fashion Lecturer at Burton and South Derbyshire College said: “Learners came away really inspired and excited from this fantastic experience, and as Paul rarely has groups visit due to his work commitments, this made the visit even more special.

“The experience gave learners an insight into what is required to work in the different areas of the fashion industry, along with a unique opportunity to work on a brief set by a leading fashion designer.”

Paul is currently celebrating his career to date and exploring future developments in his ‘Hello, my name is Paul Smith’ exhibition at the Design Museum in London. The exhibition references Paul Smith’s influences and fashion designs, charting the rise of this quintessentially British label, which has become one of the leading fashion brands in the world.

New technology could shed light on treatment of rare genetic condition

Three charities have joined forces with The University of Nottingham to secure funding for a study that will use new technologies to shed light on the life-shortening condition Ataxia Telangiectasia (A-T).

Dr Robert Dineen and Professor Dorothee Auer from the University are leading a team of experts who will use the latest techniques in MRI scanning to look at the brains of children with the rare genetic condition.

The two-year project, which is called the CATNAP study (the Children's Ataxia Telangiectasia Neuroimaging Assessment Project), is a collaboration between the University and the Nottingham Children's Hospitals, and was developed with the support of the UK A-T Society and is being funded by the ‘A-T Children’s Project’ and UK ‘Action for A-T’.

A-T is a devastating disease of children and young adults, which progressively affects their co-ordination and ability to carry out normal everyday activities. Those with the condition have a high incidence of life threatening diseases, particularly cancer and lung disease. Many die before their mid-twenties and there is currently no cure.

The aim of the study is to develop biological markers which would measure the underlying disease process and help to assess whether new treatments work.

If the research team is successful in identifying these markers then they will have new diagnostic tools to assess the progression of the disease. These indicators can then be used to monitor children with A-T undergoing experimental treatments.

Dr Dineen, Clinical Associate Professor at The School of Medicine at the University said: “The challenge lies in the fact that A-T is a rare and poorly understood condition. However, the University is in a unique position in the UK to carry out this research. Although America has a much bigger population and therefore have more children suffering with A-T, these children are scattered all across the country.

“In the UK, and due to its National Clinic, Nottingham researchers are able to pull together more children with A-T to involve in the study than would be practically possible anywhere else, leading to the biggest study of its kind in the world.”

The A-T Society will help publicise the study, and help with recruitment and sending study information to members

William Davis from the A-T Society said: “The A-T Society welcomes this project very warmly. As with almost all neurodegenerative conditions, research to find a cure for A-T is held back by the fact that we do not yet understand what is happening in the brains of sufferers. This project brings together a highly skilled team, the latest technology and the clinical understanding of the world’s longest-established A-T clinic in Nottingham. It has the potential to make great strides forward in our understanding of the condition and to unlock possible ways forward to finding a cure.”

Nearly £100,000 was awarded by the charities. The University’s partnership with Nottingham Children’s Hospital, which hosts the UK National Children’s A-T Clinic, is one of the reasons the funders chose to support the University along with the expertise of its researchers in neuroimaging research and in the assessment of children with A-T.

Tania Wheeler, Action for A-T Researcher Co-ordinator said: “We are delighted to be co-funding this high quality UK research study with the A-T Children’s Project. It is hoped this research can address gaps in our understanding of the neurological symptoms associated with A-T and identify indicators to measure the presence and progress of this disease. It could also lead to more accuracy in future clinical trials.

“Action for A-T welcomes the opportunity to work with others. Collaboration and partnership along with the expertise of the doctors and scientists at Nottingham gives us the best chance to achieve maximum impact.”

This research project will recruit 30 patients from the UK National A-T clinic and 20 children without A-T who will all undergo advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Improve management of multiple medicine use, warns report

Policy, medical training and clinical practice have failed to adapt to a significant increase in the number of patients taking multiple prescription drugs, according to a new report published by The King’s Fund and co-authored by Tony Avery, Professor of Primary Health Care in the School of Medicine at The University of Nottingham.

Professor Avery said: “We are finding that increasing numbers of people are taking large amounts of medicines each day. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes it can result in harm, and sometimes patients cannot cope with the pill burden. Our report highlights the ways in which we can try and tackle the issues around ‘polypharmacy’ so that patients don’t have to take more medicines than they really need.”

Estimates suggest that from 1995 to 2010 the number of patients taking 10 or more medicines trebled2, reflecting a large increase in the number of people with complex, or several, long-term conditions — largely driven by an ageing and increasingly frail population but also by increasing use of multiple interventions. While taking numerous prescription drugs (polypharmacy) has often been seen as something to be avoided in the past, the report shows that taking an evidence-based approach to polypharmacy should improve outcomes for many people.

However, with most research and health systems based on single disease frameworks, policy, medical training and clinical practice have often not adapted to provide ‘appropriate polypharmacy’ — optimising the use of multiple medicines and prescribing them according to best evidence. Our report suggests that for polypharmacy to be used more effectively there needs to be:

  • better training for doctors in managing complex multi-morbidity and in polypharmacy

  • more research set in the context of using treatments where people have several diseases, rather than selecting subjects who have single conditions

  • national guidelines for multi-morbidity to match those for single conditions

  • improved systems, particularly for GPs, to flag problematic polypharmacy

  • regular reviews of patients%u2019 medication and a willingness to consider stopping medication, particularly in cases of limited life expectancy

  • changes in systems of medical care to move away from increased specialisation towards a focus on multi-morbidity.
  • The report argues that polypharmacy needs to be better understood and defined, and accompanied by more engagement with patients to ensure that medicines are taken in the way that prescribers intend. This may require compromise between prescribers and patients to ensure that patients feel confident in what they are taking and situations where medicines go unused or are wasted are avoided.

    Integrated care is now widely accepted as the way forward in caring for people living with multiple, complex, long-term conditions. Appropriate polypharmacy, or medicines optimisation, now needs to be similarly accepted as one of the ways in which we can deliver more coordinated care.

    Martin Duerden, the report’s lead author, said: “Currently patients may still be treated in silos where one specialist doctor will look after their care for diabetes, another for their heart condition and a third for their asthma. They will then be prescribed medicines for each condition but these are often not considered in the whole. We need more generalist doctors able to understand a patient’s medicine in-take in its entirety and how they are managing, especially if they have to take numerous medicines at different times in the day.

    “A sensible way forward might be to identify those taking ten or more medicines and focus on them first. Their medicine intake should be regularly reviewed so that as well as adding a medicine as a condition worsens you can also scale back or even stop treatment — particularly recognising that end-of-life quality applies to chronic as well as cancer conditions.”

    Exciting new partnership for the Nottingham University Samworth Academy

    The University of Nottingham, Sir David Samworth and the Torch Academy Gateway Trust are delighted to announce a new partnership leading the Nottingham University Samworth Academy in Bilborough, Nottingham.

    The partnership represents a new phase in the NUSA journey and will focus on developing and improving the learning outcomes at the school, providing an exciting and vibrant educational environment for all its students.

    The Torch Academy Gateway Trust has an outstanding record of school improvement, secured through staff development and high quality teaching and learning.

    The partnership will use the Torch Academy Gateway Trust’s track record of school improvement in conjunction with the outstanding teaching and training practice provided by The University of Nottingham’s School of Education.

    The aspiration of the new partnership is to continue to raise academic standards and deepen the work the University undertakes with children in the school to develop aspirations and community engagement.

    Professor Alan Ford, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at The University of Nottingham, and Sir David Samworth, co-sponsor, welcomed the partnership: “We are delighted that the Torch Academy Gateway Trust has agreed to join us in supporting the next phase in NUSA’s development. We believe that this agreement brings us closer to achieving our ambitious goals for the young people of our local community.”

    Jonathan Taylor, Vice Chief Executive Officer of the Torch Academy Gateway Trust added: “This is an exciting partnership that will bring real benefits to the children at Nottingham University Samworth Academy Trust and demonstrates Torch Academy Gateway Trusts continued commitment to improving children's opportunities.

    “We look forward to working with the sponsors and everyone in the community to ensure the continued success of Nottingham University Samworth Academy.”

    Derby College Apprentice Shortlisted For Award

    A Derby College Motor Vehicle apprentice has won a prestigious national industry award.

    Catherine Treanor, 19, from Duffield is an apprentice at Station Garage in Belper and attends Derby College’s Roundhouse campus on day release.

    She was highly commended in Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) Outstanding Achievers Award for Technical Student in the Light Vehicle category – shortlisted from thousands of entries.

    Catherine was presented with her award by HRH Prince Michael of Kent at the IMI headquarters in Hertfordshire and accompanied by Derby College Motor Vehicle Team Manager Matthew Curtis who nominated her for the award.

    Catherine was nominated in recognition of the quality of her work at College and her commitment to raising the profile of women working in the motor vehicle industry through a number of industry, college and city-wide events.

    She was also chosen to represent Derby College in Germany as part of a European exchange programme and she was also named Engineering Apprentice of the year at the College’s Peak Awards this summer.

    Matthew Curtis said: “Catherine is a hard working and diligent learner who has devoted her own time outside work and College to raise the profile of women in this traditionally male dominated industry.

    “She really deserved this accolade in what was the most hotly contested category of the Awards with thousands of nominations from throughout the UK.”

    Catherine added: “I was extremely honoured just to be shortlisted and delighted to be highly commended. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet other learners, members of the IMI and or course HRH Prince Michael of Kent.

    “Derby College has opened so many new doors for me – including international work experience and the opportunity to represent the College at events to talk about my experiences.”

    Developing the scientists and engineers of the future

    The University of Nottingham has won funding for four new centres that will train the brightest young postgraduates to tackle pressing global challenges, and keep the UK at the cutting edge of scientific research.

    The Centres of Doctoral Training (CDTs), which are funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), were announced today (November 22) by Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts.

    The University is also involved in three additional centres that are led by other institutions. All these centres will provide research students with an outstanding research environment, exceptional resources, industry engagement and access to unrivalled training opportunities.

    The seven CDTs – worth a total in excess of £30m – will nurture the next generation of technological leaders and are targeted at areas vital to economic growth.

    A total of 1,000 partners will be involved in the centres across the UK, leveraging approximately £250m of additional support. This is the UK's largest investment in post graduate training in engineering and physical sciences. It will fund over 70 new CDTs, spread across 24 UK universities and will train over 3,500 postgraduate students.

    Professor Saul Tendler, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University, said “I am delighted with this very strong performance in this key competition; Nottingham leading four centres is an outstanding result, especially given our additional partnership with three other centres. It is especially pleasing that our new CDTs recognise and support our investments and key priorities in sustainable chemistry, advanced therapeutics, digital economy and additive manufacturing.

    “Nottingham currently trains over 3,000 postgraduate research students across seven campuses in the UK, China and Malaysia, and is committed to ensuring that EPSRC CDTs are major flagship elements of our global postgraduate community.”

    The Nottingham led CDT in Additive Manufacturing (AM) and 3D Printing is in partnership with the universities of Loughborough, Liverpool and Newcastle. Dr Chris Tuck, from the Faculty of Engineering, will lead the centre: “AM has been identified as an industrially relevant and strategically important manufacturing technology for the UK and experts from the UK’s primary research led institutes will come together at the centre to train the future scientists and engineers required to keep the UK at the forefront of AM research.”

    Professor Chris Moody in the School of Chemistry will lead a new CDT in Sustainable Chemistry. The centre will train new generations of PhD graduates working at the interface of chemistry, engineering, biosciences and business in close collaboration with industrial partners to develop new sustainable and more efficient chemical and industrial processes.

    The CDT in ‘My Life in Data’ is led by Professor Steve Benford from the School of Computer Science. The centre will train a community of 80 future leaders to develop the technologies and applications of our ‘digital identities’ in a way that ensures their transparent use across the economy and wider society. The centre brings together leading figures from computing and engineering as well as the social sciences, business and humanities, and is co-funded by over 20 industrial, third sector and international partners.

    Professor Cameron Alexander in the School of Pharmacy will lead the CDT in Advanced Therapeutics and Nanomedicines, developing scientists who will be adaptable and productive in a sector evolving from extensive recent change. The pharmaceutical sector is a vital part of the UK economy and for it to remain innovative on a global scale the most important requirement is the provision of highly skilled and trained people.

    The CDT in Composites Manufacturing, led by the University of Bristol, focuses on the manufacture of high performance engineering structures from polymer matrix composites that use state of the art fibres as reinforcement. The applied research projects undertaken by the research engineers are industrially defined. The CDT in Fuel Cells and their Fuels is led by The University of Birmingham and addresses an important field in the development of energy technology in Europe, namely that of highly efficient energy conversion in fuel cells. The CDT in Innovative Metal Processing led by The University of Leicester, along with the Universities of Nottingham and Birmingham and 14 industrial and international partners, will provide students with integrated training with a combination of experimental, analytical, computational and professional skills which are required for innovation.

    Professor Martin Schröder, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, said: “This is an exceptional result for the Faculty of Science which is leading three out of the four centres led out of Nottingham. I congratulate colleagues most warmly on this outstanding achievement, which reflects the excellence in training and research that is offered across the Faculty. These CDTs will afford an exciting interdisciplinary research environment to train the next generations of scientific leaders.”

    Professor Andrew Long, Executive Dean in the Faculty of Engineering, said: "I am absolutely delighted that the excellence of research and postgraduate training in Engineering has been recognised by the EPSRC and that the seven CDTs are either led by or involving our academics. This reflects our research strengths particularly in the areas of manufacturing, energy and advanced materials."

    Initiative to develop future leaders in environmental science

    A new generation of environmental scientists equipped to take on the challenges of a rapidly changing world are to be trained under a £4.9m initiative involving The University of Nottingham.

    Envision, which is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, is a new Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) offering PhD students the opportunity to develop their skills, knowledge and experience under the guidance of some of the UK’s leading environmental experts.

    The initiative will forge closer collaboration between Nottingham and other research institutions that will include consortium leader Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University, Bangor University, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology the British Geological Survey and Rothamsted Research.

    Professor Sarah Metcalfe, in The University of Nottingham’s School of Geography, is leading Nottingham’s role in the Envision DTP. She said: “This is very much about a multidisciplinary approach to managing some of the world’s most pressing environmental issues.

    "Through this initiative we will be able to attract the highest calibre of students to access training addressing a range of themes including flood forecasting, environmental radioactivity, climate change and its impacts, sustainable energy and the management of the world’s water resources.

    “This represents a huge transformation for us both in terms of our enhancing our PhD training in the environmental sciences and developing our relationship with British Geological Survey and other prestigious NERC-funded institutions.”

    Professor Saul Tendler, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at The University of Nottingham, added: “I am delighted that our consortium bid has been successful as a result of all of our hard work. This NERC DTP confirms our excellence in the natural and environmental sciences and will act as a platform for us to further increase our presence in these important areas of research.”

    The Envision DTP will see fully-funded studentship opportunities being offered across Nottingham’s Schools of Geography, Biosciences, Engineering and Life Sciences over the next five years.

    The funding from the NERC will cover the cost of successful candidates’ PhD fees and living expenses over a three-and-a-half year period — a benefit worth upwards of £60,000. They will also receive a further research training support grant which can be used to cover associated costs, such as fieldwork, travel to overseas conferences or expenses for experiments.

    The Envision initiative will also place emphasis on developing closer ties with business — both in terms of involving industry with the research which is being undertaken and by offering PhD students valuable work placement with leading companies and organisations, including the Environment Agency, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and environmental consultancies.

    Project leader Professor John Quinton of the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University said: “The challenges of environmental science are changing and in-depth subject knowledge alone is not enough. We need to train a new breed of environmental scientist who, in addition to being an excellent scientist, has leadership skills, is able to work across disciplines and can work with business. Our doctoral graduates will think in novel ways: they will embrace the culture and challenges of working across different disciplines; understand the importance of their science in advancing knowledge of how the earth system functions; and they will take account of the impact of their research on the economy, on policy and on innovation.”

    The funding for the Envision consortium comes as part of £100m of NERC investment in 15 DTPs nationally to specialise in the training of environmental science PhD students, as announced by the Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts.

    The strong focus on collaboration within and between the 38 UK higher education institutions and 280 partner organisations nationally allows partners to pool their experience to create rich training environments for students and encourage knowledge-sharing and interconnectivity, which benefits science researchers.

    The DTPs will offer postgraduate studentships and training across the full range of NERC’s disciplines, and in multidisciplinary environments, helping to enrich the student experience. Each DTP will create a strong and active community of students that are able — and encouraged — to integrate, work, and learn together. These students will receive in-depth, advanced research training, as well as training in the professional and transferable skills essential in today’s economy.

    Science and Universities minister David Willetts said: “This significant investment highlights the Government’s commitment to supporting postgraduate training and research in the environmental sciences. We're dedicated to providing the next generation of environmental researchers with the necessary skills and training to succeed in academia and industry.

    “The strong support for this programme from a number of international partners such as BP, Microsoft and Arup is enormously encouraging. Not only will this initiative benefit students, UK research organisations, business, industry and the economy, it will keep us at the forefront of the global science race.”

    An integral element of the NERC DTP programme is that a minimum of 30 per cent of the students will work with and undertake research projects that are directly relevant to non-academic partners. This will help keep the UK at the forefront of research training, and provide students with the training experience they need to enter a wide range of careers.

    Innovative training for a lean future

    Powertrain specialists LH, part of the Wabtec Group, have teamed up with Burton and South Derbyshire College (BSDC) to develop an innovative new training programme for staff at the Barton- Under-Needwood overhaul facility.

    The firm is implementing the Wabtec Performance System (WPS) process by introducing a strategy of ‘lean’ principles, the tried and tested business perspective that aims to create maximum value by eliminating waste.

    Lean production has delivered successful results for organisations of all types and sizes. In manufacturing, it provides huge benefits, enabling firms to see the operation in full detail and to understand how all elements of the process affect each other, in order to continually improve. The training courses will enable LH to adapt those tried and tested principles from manufacturing, to suit and benefit their overhaul facility.

    BSDC has been working with LH for over ten years, providing valuable training and a highly successful Apprenticeship scheme. This latest project will support the firm as they roll out a series of introductory training sessions, to update staff on the fundamentals of lean manufacturing.

    The training course is a great example of how the Government expects FE Colleges to support their ‘Skills for Sustainable Growth’ strategy. This pre-BIT (Business Improvement Techniques) programme has been designed to respond to the specific demands and needs of a local employer, and the wider sector. Over the duration of the programme the College expects to train over 100 employees.

    Ben Webster, LH’s WPS Facilitator and the lead ‘lean’ manufacturing specialist has chosen to work with BSDC due to the long-standing relationship, the positive ‘can-do’ attitude and the extensive experience of delivering training and education in the area of manufacturing techniques.

    The College has a good understanding of the business and already provides support including assistance in the recruitment of local new talent. Ben said: “The introduction of lean principles is vital to the development of the LH operation. By working in partnership with the College we can fully support our workforce and put the theory of advanced manufacturing principles into real work-place savings and improvements. It is fantastic to be working with BSDC to help us to create a new programme that meets our specific training needs”.

    Sarah Drew, Assistant Principal Business Development and Corporate Relationships at BSDC said: “I am delighted that we are further strengthening our relationship with LH since it became part of the Wabtec Group. We have always been proud to be associated with the firm and the skills of the workforce employed there.

    "This new emphasis on lean processes is an ideal area for the College and LH Group to collaborate. Our experience in the advanced manufacturing sector will be extremely beneficial as we support the ‘Introduction to Lean’ training programme”.

    University of Derby scoops Prospects Postgraduate Award

    The University of Derby has scooped a top prize at the Prospects Postgraduate Awards, a national scheme that celebrates the very best in postgraduate education.

    More than 150 leaders in the provision of postgraduate study attended the glittering awards ceremony on Tuesday (19 November) in Manchester. The Awards were presented by sociology professor and broadcaster Laurie Taylor.

    The University of Derby won Best International Campaign for an integrated marketing campaign, which used social media and traditional marketing to increase enquiries from Africa and the Middle East for its Applied Petroleum Geoscience MSc course.

    The judges commended the campaign for demonstrating the benefits of using a targeted approach to recruit international students to UK universities.

    Director of International Development at the University of Derby, Nick Slade, said: ’We are delighted to win this award, which is testament to the impact that a very focused niche campaign can have when attracting international students to one of our industry leading programmes.”

    The Awards are run by Graduate Prospects, the UK’s leading postgraduate education publisher, which also operates prospects.ac.uk and the official postgraduate course database.

    Mike Hill, chief executive of Graduate Prospects said: “The UK is a world leader in postgraduate education and these awards recognise and reward some of the best providers as well as businesses that support them. We have been overwhelmed by the high standard of entries as well as the enthusiasm of those involved. Congratulations go to the University of Derby which excelled in a hugely competitive category.”

    The Prospects Postgraduate Awards launched for the first time this year, they are the only annual event solely dedicated to celebrating best practice and the most exciting campaigns and developments in UK postgraduate education.

    The judges included representatives from Universities UK, AGCAS, NUS, UK Council for International Student Affairs, Higher Education Academy, Association of Graduate Recruiters, British Council, Higher Education Data and Information Improvement Programme, Million+, Thirtythree, Higher Education Academy and the UK Council for Graduate Education

    Parkinson’s study receives funding from The Michael J Fox Foundation

    New research by a Nottingham academic linking the neurodegenerative disease Parkinson’s to changes in a protein in brain mitochondria is to receive support from a prestigious US funding agency.

    Dr Lisa Chakrabarti, at The University of Nottingham, will receive $75,000 for a one-year research project from The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF), which is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s and funds promising research that could result in new treatments to slow, stop or reverse the progression of the disease.

    Dr Chakrabarti said: “We are trying to look at mitochondrial biology from a totally different perspective, which could have important implications for Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. The funding from The Michael J Fox Foundation will help us to confirm whether some of the protein changes we see in Parkinson’s are related to disease course.”

    Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition that causes degeneration of nerve cells in the brain. It is the loss of a vital chemical messenger found within these cells, called dopamine, which causes the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s including tremor, rigidity, slowness of movement and problems with balance. Other symptoms can include cognitive impairment and mood disorders, a loss of sense of smell, constipation and speech problems.

    The disease affects one person in every 500 — around 127,000 people in the UK — most of whom are age 50 or over. There is currently no cure and scientists have yet to pinpoint exactly what causes the condition.

    Dr Chakrabarti’s work centres on mitochondria — the energy generating powerhouses found within cells in the human body — and how the mitochondria in the brain’s nerve cells (neurons) are altered in the neurodegeneration of Parkinson’s patients.

    Recently her group has found a protein located in mitochondria that could affect the way these cellular structures handle oxygen. Oxygen is one requirement for mitochondrial activity as they use it to make chemical energy called ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), which powers all the body’s functions.

    “To cure Parkinson’s we need to learn more about the pathology of the disease. Dr Charkrabarti’s work will educate the field on disease-specific cellular changes, which could inform future therapeutic development,” said Dr Catherine Kopil, associate director of research programs at MJFF.

    The funding from MJFF will allow Dr Chakrabarti to run a larger study to further investigate this potential link by comparing the post mortem brains of both Parkinson’s patients and people without the condition.

    Sourcing brains from both the Nottingham Biobank and from other national brain banks, Dr Chakrabarti will examine tissue from patients with differing age at mortality and disease duration to get a clearer understanding of the physiological changes that take place within the brain as the disease progresses.

    The Michael J Fox Foundation was established in 2000 by the film and TV actor Michael J Fox, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991 at age 30.

    To date, the Foundation has invested more than $350 million into Parkinson’s research. In addition to funding research projects, MJFF has dedicated significant resources to creating, characterizing and distributing research tools such as pre-clinical models and reagents to be shared with the research community. The Foundation also fosters clinical research participation through the study matching tool Fox Trial Finder and outreach efforts and sponsors the landmark Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative to identify and validate Parkinson’s biomarkers.

    Sport Lived

    Sports business finds winning formula at University Innovation Park

    A business which specialises in arranging overseas sporting programmes for gap year students is going from strength to strength at the University of Nottingham’s Innovation Park.

    Sport Lived was founded by Ian Dodd, who spent six months playing cricket in South Africa in 2002. Ian was so inspired by his experience of playing sport and travelling that he decided to set up a company to help other people have the same adventure.

    Sport Lived provides gap year placements for students in Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Argentina in a wide range of sports, including athletics, cricket, football, hockey, netball, rugby and more.

    The company has expanded rapidly in recent years, as an increasing number of young people are attracted to the Sport Lived offer which spans a flexible spectrum of opportunities from four weeks to six months. In the latest financial year, the company’s turnover has seen an increase of over 50% compared with the previous twelve months.

    “I think we have found a particular niche in the market,” says company founder, Ian Dodd. “In each country we’ve handpicked the best sports clubs, coaching placements and accommodation providers. We also have permanent staff in each of our cities to help and support the young people who are out there.”

    Ian moved Sport Lived into the University of Nottingham Innovation Park (UNIP) in May 2012 in order to accommodate the expanding team and provide it with space to grow in the future. The company currently employs a total of 15 people across its site in Nottingham and its overseas bases in Cape Town, Melbourne, Brisbane, Colombo (Sri Lanka), Dunedin (New Zealand) and Rosario (Argentina).

    “UNIP is the ideal base for us,” added Ian. “We spend a lot of time meeting young people who are about to leave school or college and Nottingham is very central, which means that we are within easy reach of the majority of schools and colleges across the country. We also have space to grow the business here and take on new staff if we need to, as the office accommodation is very flexible.”

    As far as the future is concerned, Sport Lived is looking to grow its UK operation while at the same time, expanding its offer to students from other parts of the world, as it builds its international reputation.

    “I honestly believe that travelling overseas to play and coach sport is one of the best things you’ll ever do, no matter what career you want to pursue,” added Ian. “For a young person, being able to see the world through sport is an inspirational and unforgettable life-changing experience.”

    University awarded prestigious award for promoting women in science

    Hearing experts at The University of Nottingham have been recognised for their work to support and advance the careers of women in science with a national award.

    The University’s Division of Otorhinolaryngology — which includes the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit — has been successful in achieving the Athena SWAN Silver Award.

    Professor Deborah Hall, Director of the NIHR Nottingham Hearing BRU, said: “This is an outstanding achievement for us. The Athena SWAN charter celebrates good employment practice for women working in science and medicine and we’re delighted to have formal recognition for the mentoring and support that we provide for our female — and male — staff and students.”

    The Athena SWAN Charter evolved from work between the Athena Project and the Scientific Women’s Academic Network (SWAN), to increase the number of women in science, engineering and technology (WiNSET). Athena SWAN is based on the principles of addressing gender inequalities and tackling the unequal representation of women.

    There are three levels of award offered by Athena SWAN – Bronze, Silver and Gold — and each endorses action taken to increase the representation of women in science in the areas of organisational culture, work-life balance and career progression of researchers.

    The NIHR Nottingham Hearing BRU has had female leadership since it was established in 2008 and its current director Professor Hall is one of only three female NIHR BRU directors across England.

    The recognition will also be vital for the BRU’s future funding — the NIHR now only offers biomedical research centre and unit funding from those organisations that have achieved the Athena SWAN silver award as a minimum.

    Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer and a key supporter of the Athena Swan Charter, said: “I am pleased that The University of Nottingham and NIHR Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit are demonstrating their commitment to promoting the representation of women in science.

    “My congratulations go to the Division of Otorhinolaryngology and all involved for attaining an Athena SWAN Silver Award.”

    Vicenta Rose, Operations Director of the NIHR Nottingham Hearing BRU, added: “Our self-assessment team did a fantastic job of embedding the principles of Athena SWAN across the division. We are thrilled that our commitment to equality and fairness for all has been recognised by the award.”

    Despite meeting the high standards set out by the Athena SWAN silver award, the Division of Otorhinolaryngology will continue to develop its support and promotional activities for female employees, aspiring to the levels demanded for the Athena gold award.

    University fundraising campaign reaches £100m

    The University of Nottingham’s biggest ever fundraising campaign has raised £100m in just two years and is now more than two thirds of the way towards its target.

    Impact: The Nottingham Campaign was launched in October 2011. It is supporting a vibrant range of projects which are already changing people’s lives, shaping the future and having a global impact.

    Generous campaign gifts from all over the world are being contributed on a regular basis adding to major gifts including our largest ever corporate gift and our largest ever single gift from an alumnus. The £100m announcement was made at the launch of a major new exhibition, Pop Art to Britart, at the Djanogly Art Gallery. The exhibition is of late twentieth century and contemporary art from the private collection of alumnus David Ross, who is also Co-Chair of the fundraising campaign.

    University of Nottingham Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Greenaway said: “It is a remarkable achievement to have come so far, so soon in the Campaign’s life and it gives me immense pride to see tangible evidence of its impact on communities locally, nationally and internationally.

    Impact is funding our world leading research on critical global issues; enabling students to fulfil their potential in the broadest sense by supporting the arts, sport and community projects; and continually widening access to a Nottingham education.

    Our supporters should feel pride in what they have helped us to achieve and I thank everyone whose contributions, whether through donations or support, have got us to this point.

    “Although this means we are well on course to reach our £150 million target I am well aware that we still have a third of the way to go and raising the last £50 million will be a big challenge. I hope even more people will be inspired by Impact and will join with us to reach our ambitious goal.”

    The Campaign has already had a visible impact:

  • Crucial advances into childhood brain tumours, reducing the time it takes to diagnose tumours from 9.1 to 6.9 weeks;

  • 2,000 of Nottingham%u2019s most disadvantaged children to enjoy a focused programme of support to inspire them to attain and achieve more;

  • More support for palliative care research, stroke rehabilitation research and wider educational aspiration and attainment in the City, thanks to the Vice-Chancellor%u2019s three UK-wide Life Cycles;

  • More than 500 new student scholarships, bursaries and prizes rewarding excellence and including an extra �100,000 to help students from lower income backgrounds while they study with us;

  • Two gold, two silver and a bronze medal won at the 2012 London Olympics, won by student and alumni sports bursary recipients

  • Five new professorial chairs at the University;

  • 600 staff regularly donating loose change from their wages.
  • Many donations from University alumni and friends support Cascade — a fund which has already supported more than 150 student projects enhancing the lives both of the students themselves and many people around the world. Recent grants helped set up a small business loans scheme to help some of the poorest communities in rural Ghana, part-funded architecture students to design and build a pre-school to replace a dilapidated shack for South African township children and set up an award-winning student farmers’ market at Sutton Bonington.

    Meanwhile on the University’s Innovation Park Construction has begun on one of the Campaign’s landmark projects, the new £20m GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry, a unique building which is set to become a global centre of excellence shaping the future of drug discovery.

    Waste rice crops provide promise for sustainable fuels of the future

    Scientists from The University of Nottingham have received vital funding to create new biofuels which will address the urgent need to find alternatives to fossil fuels.

    Researchers from the University and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology will collaborate to engineer enzymes, bacteria and bioconversion processes that will help to produce advanced biofuels from waste rice straw.

    The project, led by Professor Nigel Minton and Dr Syed Shams Yazdani, will receive £1.4m from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research council (BBSRC) in the UK, with matched resources from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in India. The research is part of a major international research project.

    Professor Nigel Minton said: “Rice is the third biggest crop grown in the world and the major staple crop for most tropical nations. Rice straw, left over from rice harvests in large quantities, doesn’t have many agricultural uses and so hundreds of millions of tons is burned to dispose of it each year. This is wasteful and polluting, particularly if rice straw could be used to create biofuels.”

    The team hope to use synthetic biology to design bacterial strains capable of converting the straw into biofuel, after they have develop an enzyme cocktail optimised for deconstructing rice straw into the necessary raw materials for biofuel production.

    Sir Mark Walport, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, announced the major funding towards sustainable fuels, during a visit to India on 13 November. Over £4m of UK funding, with matched resource from India, has been awarded to four research projects, including The University of Nottingham, that bring together expertise in sustainable bioenergy and biofuels from both countries.

    The funding is a result of the Sustainable Bioenergy and Biofuels (SuBB) initiative funded by the BBSRC in the UK and the DBT in India. The initiative encouraged researchers to apply for funding for cross-disciplinary projects that underpin the generation and implementation of sustainable, advanced, bioenergy in order to address the urgent need to find alternatives to fossil fuels.

    Dawn and Kavita

    Agreement signed for new Enterprise Academy

    Chief Executive and Principal of Burton and South Derbyshire College, Dawn Ward OBE and Leading UK Entrepreneur, Kavita Oberoi signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday 28 November, illustrating their common objectives and shared commitment to a brand new enterprise academy.

    Created in partnership with Burton and South Derbyshire College, The Kavita Oberoi & BSDC Enterprise Academy is the first in the UK to be launched by leading entrepreneur, Kavita Oberoi.

    The Kavita Oberoi & BSDC Enterprise Academy takes a unique and innovative approach to bringing together the vocational talents of BSDC learners with the project needs and business objectives of local companies. It provides high quality business solutions to the corporate market, whilst giving BSDC learners ‘real life’ projects to enhance their learning experience and to put into practice what they learn within their studies.

    Kavita Oberoi is one of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs. She is the Founder and Managing Director of Pride Park’s Oberoi Consulting and is widely known from her appearance on Channel 4’s hit show, The Secret Millionaire. Kavita has also launched the Oberoi Business Hub at Pride Park, providing flexible workspace, mentoring and funding for start-up businesses and SMEs.

    Dawn Ward OBE, Chief Executive and Principal of BSDC said: “The new Kavita Oberoi and BSDC Enterprise Academy brings business need and student skills together, inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs. We are fully committed to the role we have to play in developing tomorrow’s business people and, with Kavita’s support, this academy further strengthens our rightful place as an essential ingredient in the growth of the region’s economy.”

    Kavita Oberoi added: “The new Kavita Oberoi and BSDC Enterprise Academy will not only give young people the chance to work on live projects for real businesses, it will give companies the chance to develop projects and innovations that will keep them ahead of their competitors. I piloted the Academy within my own company so I have first a first-hand understanding of how the model has provided me with a strong insight into the future needs of my customer base and how my business should respond, and maximise upon, these significant opportunities.”

    The college and Kavita will be officially launching the academy in early 2014 and are currently asking all interested business to contact Fiona Southcott at BSDC on foasuhotbd.cuin.otct@sca.k to register their interest.

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