February 2023: A Week of Collaboration

A busy week for CREST@UCS and collaboration.

Monday saw the relaunch of the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce 1835 Networking Group so we worked with them and University of Chester Business School to organise the event at University Centre Shrewsbury, which included a great talk from Kirstie Simpson on the importance of sustainability in leadership.

On Tuesday we hosted our contribution to the Original Shrewsbury DarwIN Festival – a series of talks from University of Chester academics and local business people on the necessity of adaption, both socially and environmentally.

Wednesday included a trip over the border to Wrexham Glyndŵr University Business Exhibition with the Digital Solutions project.

And yesterday was a long overdue meeting of the Shrewsbury (Shropshire?) Water Forum working group. Lots of discussions on how we can work together, and grow this industry in Shropshire. Watch this space as the water forum comes back bigger and better!


December 2022: Natural Capital Event

What is Natural Capital and why is it important?

Natural capital is a frequently used but difficult to define concept that covers land and soils, air, freshwater, habitats, species and geology. Unfortunately, these natural elements are becoming increasingly degraded because of human activity resulting in pollution, deforestation, draining of peatland and climate change.

This degradation results in a threat to the wide range of benefits Natural Capital produces for people; these can be environmental, health related or financial.

Key benefits Natural Capital delivers are:

  • Clean water and oxygen
  • Biodiversity
  • Carbon capture
  • Healthy soils that support food production

Farmers and landowners have a huge role to play to protect and enhance natural capital creating habitats and increasing biodiversity. To understand properly the status of the land, it is important to understand how to measure these metrics and geospatial technology is being increasingly used to deliver this type of data. This allows us to develop strategies to improve the land with measures such as creating woodland, planting hedgerows or re-wetting peatland.

The Shrewsbury Geospatial Group’s free event helped to better understand how geospatial data can be used to understand, monitor and verify Natural Capital. A range of presentations covered how organisations are using geospatial data for Natural Capital and Biodiversity Net Gain, through the use of case studies and discussion.

December 2022: Students and Businesses working in Partnership 

On 7th December, University Centre Shrewsbury held an event that aimed to address some of the barriers to growth facing SMEs in Shropshire. Hosted by CREST, Digital Solutions and #BEST, with support from Chester Business School and Work Based Learning, a business expo was run in collaboration with the student conferences. The draw for businesses was a chance to network and find out about the support on offer from the University and beyond. The draw for students was an opportunity to present their academic theories on contemporary issues within management to the business community. They faced some challenging questions from the audience, but responses were professional, and they provided some convincing arguments.  

“A wonderful opportunity to see how strong the ties are between the university and local businesses. A highlight for me was the two presentations given by your business students. The future of marketing was incredibly interesting and the clarity with which the students conveyed the information about trends in social media gave me some great pointers to take away.” Vince Dovey, Shropshire ITC 

The focus throughout was to highlight the importance of partnerships for sustainable growth, providing opportunities for staff, students, and SMEs to interact, learn from each other and build social capital. 

March 2022: Sustainability West Midlands 20th Birthday Celebrations

CREST sponsored a ‘Sustainability Roadmap to 2030’ award for ‘Clean Air and Water’ at the SWM birthday celebrations. It was great to be at the event, networking with other organisations all working towards a more sustainable future and showcasing British innovation and talent! Even better to see some Shropshire businesses recognised for their achievements. Congratulations to National Express West Midlands for winning the Clean Air and Water award for their investment and commitment to hydrogen buses, helping to support the Clean Air Zone drive in Birmingham.

November 2021: Collaboration for Change

As part of COP26 University of Chester Collaboration for Change week, CREST hosted a webinar on ‘New Technology for Wildlife Monitoring’. Speakers included: Nature Metrics, Shropshire Mammal Group, Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Wildlife Trusts Wales and Shrewsbury Town Council. The talks are available to watch via our YouTube channel.

September 2021: Collaboration on The Pump House Knowledge Hub

CREST supported collaboration between EVORA EDGE, University of Chester and Shropshire Council to refurbish the ground floor of the Pump House, Shrewsbury, through an economic recovery grant. It now includes a small conference centre, three meeting rooms and a lobby/exhibition area as well as high tech meeting and presenting facilities. The aim of this venture is to accelerate progress on net-zero carbon and sustainable buildings, and those involved in the sectors can apply to use the facilities for meetings, training or events. EVORA EDGE and University Centre Shrewsbury will host joint knowledge sharing events in the New Year.


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.


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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

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.

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 or 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: Our impact so far

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


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




  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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


  • Product testing carried out by a CREST@UCS consultant


  • 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


  • 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 

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):


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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.