News

July 2021: Increasing our Range of Expertise

We are really pleased that more academics from University of Chester have been able to join CREST and offer support to local businesses.

Chris Andrews, Technical Officer for the Faculty of Science & Engineering. Specialising in electronics and drone technology, Chris is supporting beneficiaries in geographical information systems (GIS) by providing sensor systems and data analysis.

Andrew Miles, Senior Lecturer in Geography and International Development, has a research interest in the applications of GIS and remote sensing. This skill set will allow him to offer a range of support, such as providing new insights through the spatial analysis and interpretation of existing data as well as supporting the use of technology to help produce new and innovative datasets. Andrew is a keen proponent of open source software and open data, and can help organisations to exploit the growing library of available tools and datasets in order to develop novel products and solutions.

David Ward, Senior Lecturer in Energy Systems and Sustainability in the Faculty of Science and Engineering with research activities focusing on Energy and Environmental Engineering. David continues to advance this work with respect to both fuel cells and water treatment applications.

June 2021: Our work so far

An update on the work CREST@UCS has done for SMEs located in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.

Software/Geospatial:

  • Exploration of environmental datasets in relation to the development of a new API
  • Establishing the effectiveness of drones to monitor and map animal movement
  • Support with an ESA funding application

Manufacturing:

  • Market research to understand whether there is the potential to develop a tool which would estimate the % of recyclate within packaging
  • Identification of carbon savings and reduction in repair works for a new product

Waste:

  • Research into the market potential for biochar
  • Research to understand how best economically to process poultry litter
  • Helping start-up to understand the market opportunity for recycled exhibition products, and developing the value proposition

Planning and Pollution

  • Scoped and developed an idea for alternative use of green space

Horticulture Products:

  • Trials with an alternative plant fertiliser
  • Derivation of a methodology for soil sampling analysis, with a particular focus on pH and organic matter content
  • Field trials for new vermiculture product

Other:

  • Supported a local SME with the development of the PLASTICS netWORK
  • Organised a series of events under the Smart Rural theme
  • Worked with a local SME to develop the Pump House Knowledge Hub – launching in September

 

Number of SMEs in Shropshire who have received support

Number of SMEs in Telford & Wrekin who have received support

Number of SMEs involved in long term research collaborations

April 2021: Using QIARK

Our Smart Rural 5 event was supported by impactRI through the use of QIARK. QIARK is a collaborative decision-making system that can help make complex decisions simple. We used it to ask registered attendees a couple of questions prior to the event. The ideas received were then adjudicated by the same group of people. The top three ideas from the adjudication report can be found below:

Q1: Giving a reason for your answer, what particular aspect of the water environment is of interest to you?

Flood management and property development. Why do we keep building on flood plains? How do we re-ignite the historical appreciation that a river is more than just the water it is the whole river valley environ. We can’t keep boxing them off from each other and treat them as one.

Are the forecasts for routine water shortages in the next 25 years still in place and are we planning for a change in the way public usage is managed, even permissible?

Most people now live in an increasingly densely built urban environment where access to green spaces largely determines their quality of life. My interest is in developing the technologies for planting on vertical surfaces including the supply and management of irrigation water

The full range of suggestions can be found by clicking on the link below, along with ideas and innovations that have stemmed from them. 

Q2: Giving a reason for your answer, what do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities for the rural environment, economy and society in relation to water?

With climate and carbon Net-Zero coming back onto the top of the agenda, what a great opportunity to start thinking innovatively about how the water industry sources and deploys for its energy needs to find different approaches to reduce inefficiency and carbon impact.

Water security – climate change and greater demand with population increase.

Public awareness is a challenge & an opportunity as the number of rivers, lakes & coastal waters that met the criteria for achieving good chemical status fell from 97 per cent in 2016 to zero in 2019 as common chemicals such as flame retardants were found in all waters.

The full range of suggestions can be found by clicking on the link below, along with ideas and innovations that have stemmed from them. 

March 2021: Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme

This programme has helped more than  2,000 people to start up, build and scale social enterprises, charities, community projects and impact-led organisations.

They could support you with:

  • A free learning programme, shaped by your needs, to help you adapt to a post-Covid new normal
  • A grant (£1,000 – £7,000)
  • A mentor
  • A supportive community of peers in a similar role to you

The Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme is run in partnership with the School for Social Entrepreneurs, and jointly funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

More information here.

March 2021 – Water and the Environment: Smart Rural 5

The mission of our 5th Smart Rural event, this time focusing on Water and the Environment, is to encourage a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges that water provides for rural areas. This will include increasing resilience towards natural events such as flooding and drought through the use of smart infrastructure.

In collaboration with Shrewsbury Water Forum, we want to share what is happening in Shropshire and promote the expertise we have available here, whilst sharing best practise from further afield.

It will be an opportunity for knowledge transfer between the private and public sector, academia, individuals and community groups. Attendees will get the chance to ask questions about topics that interest or affect them, and network with other delegates in this online event.

You should leave the event with a better grasp of how water affords us numerous opportunities for environmental, societal and economic benefit.

This event is being held via Remo on 28th April 2021. To register, please click here.

February 2021: More experts join the CREST team

As CREST becomes part of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Martin Morlidge and Professor Joe Howe have joined our team.

Martin is responsible for the day to day management of the commercial operations directorate, managing the commercial environment of Thornton Science Park (TSP) which interfaces the University of Chester and its Stakeholders with commercial companies working in the Energy, Environment, Automotive and Advanced Manufacturing Sectors. He works across the University of Chester to support the operations of the Riverside Innovation Centre and NoWFOOD in assisting a range of SME’s with access to facilities, training and networks.

Joe has extensive experience in working with industry on major environmental projects and initiatives across the UK. Currently he is driven by the opportunities afforded to UK industry in delivering the £600bn of infrastructure projects by 2030.

Joe is pro-actively engaged with the UK’s emerging clean growth agenda including his roles on the UK Decarbonised of Gas Alliance, chairing of the NW Hydrogen Alliance and being the North West academic lead for the UK Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre.

He is particularly passionate about the STEM skills and sits on the Board of the Department of Education: Engineering Construction Industries Training Board.

January 2021 – Opportunity to Take Part in Research at Reaseheath

Our partners, Reaseheath College, are conducting a number of interesting research projects and are looking for beneficiaries that could take advantage of their findings:

  • Free trials of a GPS tracking system that could be an alternative to livestock fenceing
    • Equipment currently in development
  • Free trials of a low cost turbidity sensor developed by the college in association with a private company
    • Sensors transmit data to a cloud based platform
    • Platform generates a data-rich, real-time turbidity map of the catchment
  • Free trials in a vertical farming facility
    • 200 square meters
    • Hydroponic system
    • Artificial lighting and climate controlled
    • Option of micro scale testing
  • Research into duckweed, an alternative protein source
    • Best growing conditions
    • Amount of yield
    • Impact when fed to livestock
    • Ease of processing

Contact crest@ucshrewsbury.ac.uk or Janice.Woolley@reaseheath.ac.uk if you would like to find out more

January 2021: Launch of the PLASTICS netWORK – watch on YouTube

For those of you who were unable to attend the recent launch of the PLASTICS netWORK, videos of the presentations are now available to watch via YouTube.

The next event is scheduled for 31st March and will focus on rethinking plastic packaging – confronting the challenge of using recycled content. Register here.

December 2020: Transport and Mobility in Rural Areas – Watch on YouTube

CREST’s Smart Rural series of events are both a positive response to the rural county in which we are based, and an opportunity to look more closely at the environmental and socio-economic challenges for rural areas. Consistently, rural areas face equal infrastructure and economic stresses in relation to digital, energy, transport, education, jobs, housing, tourism and agriculture. All of which are intensified by a similar backdrop of ageing population, low GVA and outward migration. 

This event, Transport and Mobility in Rural Areas, explored the opportunities for more responsive, flexible mobility services and discussed how transport can become better connected into communities through connectivity hubs. Transport is also an energy producer and energy consumer, so how could transport and energy networks become more closely integrated? Where do cars fit in to this picture? Should they be reconsidered if they were decarbonised?

For those of you who were unable to attend this event, videos of the presentations are now available to watch via YouTube.

  • Introductions from Centre for Research into Environmental Science and Technology, Sustainability West Midlands and Fit for the Future – Prof Julieanna Powell-Turner (CREST), Alan Carr (SWM) and Hannah Mann (FftF)
  • Update from the Department for Transport on rural mobility projects – Jamie Cole
  • A look at the impact Covid-19 has had on Lincolnshire’s council run demand responsive bus service, and how well adoption and uptake has been for this rural county – Vanessa Strange
  • The opportunity for mobility hubs in rural areas that could provide sustainable transport options, with choice, for users – Prof Gary Bosworth
  • Riversimple’s journey in creating hydrogen powered cars and a useable business model, the test beds they have in progress, and the future for a decarbonised transport system – Hugo Spowers

The next Smart Rural event – Water and the Environment – is planned for Wednesday 28th April 2021.

June 2020: New academic expert joins the CREST@UCS team

Our team is ever evolving and we are pleased to have Dr Gavin Phillips as the newest addition. Gavin is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences and Programme Leader of the BSc Chemistry course and runs the DOMESTIC experimental building for the science and technology of energy and the indoor environment.

He specialises in environmental science, chemical analysis and air chemistry. His research interests include air quality and the environmental science of the built environment. Prior to working for the University of Chester, Gavin was a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany and an Environmental Chemist at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. He has worked in field all over the world including at the Danum Valley in Sabah, Malaysia and on the ice sheets east of Greenland.

June 2020: Our impact so far

An update of the impacts CREST@UCS has had for SMEs located in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.

Software/Geospatial:

  • Research to support with the development of sensor technologies linked to fruit picking

Manufacturing:

  •  

Waste:

  • Report on the feasibility of office furniture reuse
  • Review of environmental policies and waste assessments for manufacturers

Planning and Pollution

  • Support with a successful innovate bid for air monitoring sensor development
  • Field trials of bioreactors to determine most effective pollution reducing design
  • Business model development into a new journey sharing service

Renewable Energy

  • Research into funding opportunities, focusing on low carbon technologies.
  • Analysis of data to establish the potential for heat recovery from livestock rearing units
  • Support with reviewing and implementing a carbon reduction policy

Flooding

  • Use of drone surveys to monitor groundwater and vegetation stress
  • Research into sink detection algorithms and flow modelling tools.
  • Investigation into the potential of satellite-based earth observation data to improve the calculation of actual evapotranspiration.

Other:

  • Feasibility work on the opportunities for adding social value in the construction industry

 

Number of SMEs in Shropshire who have received support

Number of SMEs in Telford & Wrekin who have received support

Number of SMEs involved in long term research collaborations

April 2020: CREST Team Working from Home

Our base at UCS is currently closed due to Covid-19 protection measures. However, the CREST team are still working from various locations across the county providing support to businesses in the area.

March 2020: Tips for Boosting your Productivity when Working from Home

We confess this information has been acquired from the Digital Solutions@UCS website, who have a much longer list on their blog.

To some businesses working from home is a new idea for their own business, whereas for others this is a day to day occurrence already! Whatever your circumstance, we wanted to highlight some platforms we think could assist your journey in working remotely.

Zoom is a video conferencing app which is a perfect solution for holding meetings for your team from your own home. Available web and app based, as well as both Windows and Mac friendly so there is no excuse to not be able to join in! The basics of Zoom are free, and for most SMEs they will be more than enough!
 
Beloved by some already, Trello is a great way to keep yourself on track or keep a team focused. It enables you to share ‘to-do’ lists and is the equivalent of a post it note stuck to your monitor. Create a board based on your project, break it down into different to-do lists, colour code items and tick them off as you go. You could have a board for yourself or add members of the team and make a group board so you can see everyone tick their work off.
 
Slack is a great multi purpose tool, and for those working as an individual or a minimal team then the free plan could be a great fit for you. Slack can be utilised in multiple ways, including message boards, file storage and video calling. Even on the free plan, you can integrate up to 10 other apps (unlimited on paid plans), including Google Drive and Office 365. Slack, for some, has become a one stop shop to streamline team work. With messaging, file sharing and tools like a workflow building, it could be the perfect fit for your business.
 
An app to stop work! When working remotely, the lines between work and life can become blurred so apps like Daywise are so important. Daywise allows you to control when you receive notifications for certain apps, so out of hours you won’t be tempted to check every time you are notified a new work email has come through. This can be even used to stop clients from calling out of work hours! It is currently only available on Android.

September 2019: Tech Severn

CREST@UCS had a stand at the Tech Severn event which was held at Theatre Severn and organised by Shropshire Council. This two-day event was attended by over 600 visitors from local government, businesses, academia and charities. Innovation showcased included technology enabled care, education, construction, digi-health and green technology.

In support of Tech Severn, CREST@UCS hosted a Business Breakfast with presentations from Strength Through Adversity, demonstrating the use of a ReWalk Robotics exoskeleton that allows Darren Edwards to walk again following an accident that left him paralysed; Reclaim Tax UK and Professor John Buckley from UCS who presented on health related innovation.

July 2019: Shrewsbury Geospatial Forum

As part of the project to develop the Geospatial Special Interest Group at University Centre Shrewsbury, we have recently formed a Geospatial Working Group to support the Geospatial SIG, which met for the first time on June 19th at UCS. A number of actions came out of this meeting:

  • 5 new geospatial CPD workshops between July 2019 and March 2020
  • A change of name to Shrewsbury Geospatial Forum

The first event is to be held on the 24th July, 5.30pm – 7:00pm at UCS and will be an informal gathering with drinks and nibbles. More information on this and all other events can be found here

June 2019: Case Study in State of the Relationship Report 2019

We are very pleased to be featured in the 2019 State of the Relationship Report from the National Centre for Universities and Businesses, with a case study on Creative Exchanges of Knowledge.

“… knowledge exchange is far more creative and dynamic, and differs depending on the type, size and aims of the partners involved. It can be anything from shared spaces, to people, to priorities. And its impacts are just as wide-ranging”. NCUB Report

Here at CREST@UCS we are all about partnership, and much of our time is spent working with local businesses on research projects. This case study focuses on the collaboration between us and local software developers, Wolf Logic Ltd, resulting in the creation of a new product called Geopoints. This allows registered users to search for any location, using either a postcode or map co-ordinates, to find land and property details such as boundaries, title information, solar suitability, environmental issues and terrain information.

“It quickly became evident that in developing a geospatial product for market, Wolf Logic would benefit greatly from CREST’s expertise in environmental geospatial analysis”. NCUB Report

To read the report in full, click here (we are on page 43)

June 2019: And the winner is…

Border Hardwood! We are very pleased to announce that Border Hardwood Ltd was the winner of the Environmental Innovation Award, sponsored by CREST@UCS. They are an example of how a business can make small innovative changes to have a positive impact on the environment.  These are just some of the steps they have taken to ensure sustainability:

  • All of the oak is supplied with either the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) certificate
  • They know their supply chains and complete regular supplier due diligence checks. “Can pick up our oak and tell customers exactly where it was grown, where it has come from, and assure our customers that it was harvested responsibly” says Charlie Bevan-Jones, Managing Director
  • Installed solar panels, to reduce the electricity consumption of the site
  • Harvest rainwater to wash down trucks, thus reducing water consumption
  • Installed a biomass boiler to burn unusable waste; this fuels the kiln used to dry their oak
  • Invested in software system to reduce paper usage by 70% by 2020
  • Since 2015 all vehicles are dual fuel with a charging facility on site
  • Unless impractical, all foreign travel is done by car or rail
  • Waste sawdust gets donated to a local community farm 

May 2019: Shropshire Chamber Business Awards 2019

CREST@UCS is proud to sponsor the ‘Environmental Innovation’ award at the Shropshire Chamber Business Awards for a second year running. This is an award for environmentally aware businesses which have introduced or developed innovative environmental practices, processes or technology either for use within their own business or for the marketplace.

We are pleased to announce the finalists for the award:

Judging will take place on Tuesday 21st May 2019.

May 2019: Our impact so far

An update of the impacts CREST@UCS has had for SMEs located in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.

Software/Geospatial:

  • A new product that makes advanced environmental data accessible to property developers, estate agents and commercial land agents
  • Creation of a Geospatial Special Interest Group with an interest in advancing Geospatial Mapping & Science, Learning and Technology

Manufacturing:

  • Product testing carried out by a CREST@UCS consultant

Waste:

  • A geospatial data driven interactive food poverty map, used to inform strategy and locate hotspots
  • Development of a website, which will lead to the development of an environmental training package hosted on a Virtual Learning Environment
  • Support with development of a circular economy around green waste 
  • Research into how brewers spent grain can be utilised

Planning and Pollution

  • Research and training on use of free datasets to reduce costs and increase efficiency 
  • Specialist research into datasets and methodologies
  • Development of GIS and remote sensing workflow 
  • GIS training for team members to facilitate computerised data collection and interpretation
  • Advice and initial scoping into the feasibility for the development of in-field bioreactors

Renewable Energy

  • Support on developing funding and grant applications

Other:

  • Contributed to the creation of the Shrewsbury Water Forum – an informal professional business networking group aimed at promoting the water science sector
  • Formation of a Sensor Research group to investigate the use of technology to manage pollution in Shropshire
  • Shared information and expertise on the concept of Smart Rural, in the first of several events planned on the topic

 

Number of SMEs who have applied for support

Number of SMEs who have received some support

Number of SMEs with completed support package

March 2019: Shrewsbury Water Forum

CREST@UCS have been influential in developing the newly named Shrewsbury Water Forum. Since it’s creation in November 2018, the informal, professional networking group have decided to focus on:

  • Promoting and sustaining Shrewsbury as a centre of Groundwater Excellence 
  • Encouraging collaboration between the professional community and academia
  • Promoting and improving access to groundwater science training and education
  • Retaining and grow the economic activity of this industry within the Marches LEP

The group have a number of technical events planned but are also pursuing business surgeries, a day event to be hosted in Shrewsbury, and, for the longer term, a ‘hot topics’ conference and publication for groundwater science. There is also talk of resurrecting the “Water Ball” to raise money for WaterAid!

If you are interested in water and would like to get involved or be kept up to date with information, please email crest@ucshrewsbury.ac.uk 

November 2018: R&D Tax Credits and Intellectual Property Event

This event was held in October 2018 and attended by businesses who work in a variety of different areas. We had extremely knowledgeable speakers providing information useful for anyone starting a new business or developing their own products.

“Use of case studies was particularly helpful in gaining an understanding of the subject matter” G.M.

“The Intellectual Property Office gave an overview that was particularly useful” M.S.

“I will look into R&D tax credits further to see if they are applicable to my business” M.W.

Number of SMEs who have applied for support

Number of SMEs who have received some support

Number of SMEs with completed support package

October 2018: Our impact so far

Since the official launch in February 2018 CREST@UCS has delivered the following (please note, due to privacy we are unable to provide company names):

Energy:

  • Successful Department for Transport funding bid
  • Technical expertise that the SME could not have secured themselves due to limited funds. Support also provided to help the SME complete a funding application

Software/Geospatial:

  • Research collaboration to create a geospatial map of existing green space in Shropshire. This can then be modelled to include potential plans for future housing or regeneration developments. This will lead to the generation of a new product
  • Research collaboration to help the SME develop and launch a new product
  • Research collaboration to develop a new product and bring it to market using academic expertise
  • Support to develop a Knowledge Transfer Partnership leading to development of a new software product
  • Research collaboration into data sources to develop a new product

Manufacturing:

  • Innovation support to shorten development time on a new project allowing the SME to generate more income more quickly
  • Advice on Intellectual Property and identification of opportunities for new products
  • Researching the market opportunity for the re-use of existing products to create a new business

Waste:

  • Research collaboration into developing an AD facility on site (including regulations and licensing). They would be unable to carry out the activities without our support as they do not have the funds or the expertise
  • Support with developing funding and grant applications for a novel waste management scheme

September 2018: Julieanna Powell-Turner joins CREST@UCS

CREST@UCS is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Julieanna Powell-Turner as Research Director. She joins us from Cranfield University where she was Head of Research and a Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Supply Chains. Julieanna’s experience includes environmental management and policy development which builds on her background in environmental sciences.

Her work at Cranfield covered the interfaces between environmental sustainability and the circular economy where products and services are considered through life from design to final disposal in a supply network. The aim of this through life approach is to investigate and advance early stage innovative ideas. Therefore reducing the likelihood and/or the impact of supply disruptions to business through risk identification (disruptions), assessment (occurrence and impact), action (strategy and mitigation) and monitoring (reduce risk).

July 2018: Geospatial data workshop

On 26th June CREST@UCS held its second funded workshop for SMEs. It was run by Dr Andrew Miles and focused on how the opening up of geospatial data held by public bodies can benefit businesses in the area. It was a small, hands on event that provided the opportunity to bring like minded individuals together. This workshop identified that there is a need for a local GIS usergroup to be established in the area. CREST@UCS is now working with Dr Andrew Miles and local businesses to develop this. Stay tuned for more information!

June 2018: Shropshire Chamber Business Awards

CREST@UCS was proud to sponsor the ‘Environmental Innovation’ award at the Shropshire Chamber Business Awards, held on Friday 15th June 2018 at Telford International Centre. We were very pleased to celebrate with Hobson’s Brewery, winners of the award.