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Engagement and Enterprise Awards 2015

On Monday 9th November 2015 Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) recognised outstanding achievement in public engagement, academic enterprise, student enterprise and public relations at the inaugural QMUL Engagement and Entrepreneurship Awards (#EEAwards15). The event rewarded outstanding contributions made by staff and students to involve those outside the university with their work in order to share, apply and enhance research and teaching.

The ceremony was opened by Professor Simon Gaskell, President and Principal of QMUL, who welcomed the room of short-listed projects and special guests with an opening speech praising our institution's strength across the areas honoured on the night, but also the importance of thinking of these as a whole, working as part of one team. He then presented the awards with Professor Bill Spence, Vice Principal for Research, including fourteen awards spanning the four categories. These included three individual awards for outstanding individual achievement, named after QMUL alumni and Honorary Fellows Lucy Hawking and Bruce Dickinson, and QMUL Honorary Fellow Richard Garriott

The highly commended and winning projects on the night represent the outstanding quality and depth of public engagement and business enterprise at QMUL, over the course of the night the room heard descriptions of 30 projects that have displayed a commitment and quality that made the inaugural awards a truly special occasion and celebration of achievement at QMUL. Follow the links below for details of the winning and highly commended projects by category, or scroll down for a complete list of all projects.

Public Engagement

(Including Public Relations Inform Award)

Academic Enterprise

Student Enterprise


Public Engagement 

Inspire Award

Inspire Award

For those who have used the wonder of research to inspire people.

Winner: Kam's Romeo & Juliet: Co-creating Interactive Drama Across Cultures, Dr. Nick Bryan-Kinns, Dr. Ben Bengler, Dr. Wei Wang (Hunan University)

For their work with the Kam ethnic minority group in rural China and Hunan University, co‑creating an interactive drama based on traditional Kam stories using Interaction Design research. Project Poster

Highly Commended: The Carnival of Lost Emotions, Chris Millard & Rebecca O'Neal

For their performances demonstrating emotional states from history that no longer exist, using props and performance to stimulate discussion about the relationship between humans, biology, history and culture. Project Poster

Highly Commended: ArtNeuro, Supatra Marsh & Jamie Upton

For their exploration of the world of neuroscience through the visual arts. Over 30 artists and neuroscientists worked together to illustrate the importance of current neuroscience research to the public, culminating in a thought-provoking visual experience inspiring conversations about all aspects of the brain. Project Poster

Inform Award (Communications)  

Inform Award

For disseminating QMUL’s research to a wider audience - through traditional news media, opinion pieces and blogs, or by engaging with audiences on social media - raising awareness and increasing media coverage.

Winner: The International State Crime Initiative

For their work raising international media awareness of the Burmese government’s genocidal practices against the minority Rohingya population. Project Poster

Highly Commended: The Barts Multiple Sclerosis Research Blog, Gavin Giovannoni & David Baker

For a blog that has become one of the most influential resources about MS Research news in the world. Updated daily, it provides a direct communication between QMUL researchers and a global patient community. Project Poster

Highly Commended: The Alice Look, Kiera Vaclavik

For work disseminating the results of her research on Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland in relation to fashion and dress through a range of outlets including interviews (print, radio and TV) and the ‘Alice Look’ exhibition. Project Poster

Involve Award

Involve Award

For activity where the public can contribute their knowledge, expertise or time to research.

Winner: Warblr

A phone app that automatically identifies birds by their song, while also gathering data for a citizen science initiative to map geolocated bird sounds. Project Poster

Highly Commended: Airway Cells and Air Pollution (ACAP) study in Schools

A study taking research into the classroom to investigate the impact of air pollution on immune cells within children’s lungs, using these activities to also information to be used in their research. Project Poster

Highly Commended: Do I Have to Go? Child-led Research into a Children’s attitudes to Dentists

For work on a new performance based system developed to involve 9-10 year old school students in formulating their own research questions and carrying out the research themselves. Project Poster

Influence Award

Influence Award

For activity where research has been used to change the way that things are done.

Winner: Science-led Conservation of Turtles, The Turtle Project

A project using technology and education to engage with local authorities, communities and students, raising awareness of the fate of endangered marine turtles in Cape Verde. Project Poster

Highly Commended: AccessiblePeakMeter, Nick Bryan-Kinns, Tony Stockman, Oussama Metatla, Fiore Martin 

A plug-in which makes Digital Audio Workstations accessible to audio producers with visual impairments, allowing them to record and edit digital audio by using sound to represent signal levels. Project Poster

Interact Award

Interact Award

This award recognises the partnerships and collaborations that are essential to public engagement.

Winner: Ragged Children, Mended Lives? Childhood, Poverty and Philanthropy in Late Victorian London

A permanent gallery display and set of educational resources at the Ragged School exploring the issue of poverty, precarity, poor health and emigration on the children of the late-nineteenth-century East End. Project Poster

Highly Commended: Centre for Studies of Home, Alison Blunt

An inter-disciplinary partnership between QMUL and The Geffrye Museum of the Home which has had much success with collaborative research and public engagement projects. Project Poster

Highly Commended: How We Read, Matthew Rubery

An interactive exhibition exploring the history of assistive technologies designed to help blind people read, featuring a wide array of artefacts matched with performances and interactive activities. Project Poster

The Hawking award for Developed Understanding of Public Engagement

Named for Lucy Hawking, novelist and daughter of Stephen Hawking this award reflects Lucy’s qualities of reflexive, cooperative working, and her understanding of how to bring together research and engagement, this award is given to an individual to acknowledge their own critical thinking in the field of public engagement.

Hawking Award

Winner: Magda Osman

For a varied range of work in engagement, including Public debates, blogs for magazines and newspapers, podcasts and TV work. Magda demonstrates a nuanced understanding of the importance of public engagement to both higher education institutions and to researchers themselves.

 Project Poster

The Garriott Award for Leadership in Public Engagement

Named for Richard Gariott, entrepreneur and astronaut this award reflects Richard’s qualities of innovation and leadership, being at the forefront of his field, this award is given to an individual to reflect the extensive work they have done in pushing forward the public engagement agenda, and developing others around them.

Gariott Award

Winner: Fran Balkwill

For a long history of excellence in public engagement, including her extensive work establishing the Centre of the Cell science education centre based in the Blizard Institute which saw its 100,000th visitor earlier this year.

 Project Poster

Academic Enterprise 

Academic Commercial Enterprise 

Academic Commercial Enterprise Award

For the QMUL spin-out company or commercial agreement with an industrial partner that has generated the most revenues and/or reached a significant commercial milestone, leading to an increase the value of the opportunity.  

Winner: LANDR, Dr Josh Reiss

LANDR, spun out from QMUL in 2012, develops software tools that automate the manipulation and editing of audio in much the same way as a professional mixing engineer. Their lead product provides an automatic mastering service to amateur musicians.  In year, their users have increased to 250k, with 1.2m tracks mastered and generating revenues of >$1.4m. They currently have over 70 partnerships with leading music-related companies and raised $6.2m giving LANDR a current valuation of >$10m.

Highly Commended: Stealthyx Therapeutics Ltd, Professor Yuti Chernajovsky

Spun-out from QMUL in 2002, Stealthyx has developed a drug delivery system capable of extending the half-life of drugs and ensuring their delivery only to sites of disease. Proof of principle has been demonstrated in models of several autoimmune diseases, inflammation and cancer. In-year, Stealthyx received £2M investment from Index Ventures enabling clinical trials with a number of therapeutic drugs to begin by 2017.

Highly Commended: Actual Experience PLC, Professor Jonathan Pitts

Actual Experience, spun-out from QMUL in 2009 and AIM listed in 2014, is revolutionizing the way digital quality is managed by businesses. It’s unique analytics approach enables companies to improve their networked operations providing efficiencies and greater customer satisfaction. In year Actual Experience raised £16 million to fund further expansion including establishing a US subsidiary. It also secured a three year contract to supply services to a major global organisation and won the coveted Red Herring Top 100 Global award. The Company's market capitalisation is approximately £97 million, representing an in-year increase of 38% in value.

Academic Non-Commercial Enterprise 

Academic Non-Commercial Enterprise Award

For the non-commercial enterprise activity with the most significant end-user engagement, for example open-source software, social enterprises or cultural/creative products or services.

Winner: People’s Palace Project, Professor Paul Heritage

People’s Palace Projects is recognised as a flagship public engagement project at QMUL, receiving core support from Arts Council England.  For the past five years its income has ranged from £500k to £1m with most of its income generated through research grants, British Council funding, Trust and Foundation grants and consultancy. Significant projects run in-year include: “With One Voice”, a Brazil arts and homelessness exchange; “The Becontree Hundred, 100 new portraits of Dagenham”, a photography workshops for local people; and “The Encounter”, research trips by Complicite’s Simon McBurney to Xingú Territory.

Highly Commended: QMUL Virtual Lab, Dr Tina Chowdhury

The QMUL virtual lab is a software tool that models teaching and research labs for multiple disciplines in engineering and the life sciences. Techniques are taught in the virtual lab using 3D interactive games technology to enable the student to practice methods multiple times and learn from mistakes, without incurring additional costs. In year, the QMUL Virtual Lab was shortlisted for a Times Higher Education award. In addition, a licensing arrangement was established with partners Solvexx Solutions and the software was purchased by the Technical University of Eindhoven. It also won an Innovate UK Learning Technologies grant.

Proof of Concept Project 

Proof of Concept Project Award

This award is for the proof of concept project which has achieved one or a number of milestones that could lead to a significant commercial or non-commercial enterprise in the future.  

Joint Winner: Novel Diagnostics/Therapeutics for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Dr Johan Aarum, Dr Andrea Malaspina and Professor Denise Sheer

Protein aggregation is a critical factor in several disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Dr Aarum and his colleagues have shown that these aggregated proteins are kept in a soluble state by association with Molecule X. Thus, loss of protein-X interaction leads to protein aggregation. In-year crucial proof of principle data has been generated showing that synthetic versions of Molecule X maintain protein solubility. Also a small molecule candidate has been discovered which can prevent protein aggregation that could be developed in the future as a potential drug candidate.

Joint Winner: eSexual Health Clinic is now open, eSTI2 Consortium, Clinical & Public Health Workstream (Professor Claudia Estcourt)

Professor Claudia Estcourt’s group has demonstrated proof of concept for a highly innovative online clinical care pathway, which enables a person who has tested for chlamydia to get their test results and all their treatment and care online by following an automated online clinical consultation, leading to collection of antibiotics from a community pharmacy. In year, the software tool has been used in a study of over 300 people with chlamydia, resulting in 72% receiving treatment within one day of getting their results; with 93% rating their care as good to excellent and 86% say they would recommend the tool to a friend.

Highly Commended: Syndecan-2 as a therapeutic in the treatment of cancer, Dr James Whiteford and Giulia De Rossi

New blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) is a feature of cancer and diseases of the eye such as Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration. Dr Whiteford’s group has identified that the extracellular portion of the adhesion molecule syndecan-2 is potently anti-angiogenic, addressing the shortcomings of competitor therapies. In year an 18 amino acid peptide which has anti-blood vessel formation properties has been developed which demonstrates around 30% improvement of symptoms in mice.


The Dickinson Award for Academic Entrepreneur of the Year

Dickinson Award for Academic Entrepreneur of the Year

This award is for the individual who has demonstrated the most entrepreneurial activity or activities.

Winner: Dr Andrew McPherson

Andrew's TouchKeys is a new musical instrument technology transforming the piano-style digital keyboard into an expressive multi-touch control surface using capacitive sensing. In summer 2013, Andrew ran a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to produce and distribute instruments, raising £46k. 

In year Andrew has coordinated a second production run raising over £40k in orders, handling publicity and invoicing, manufacturing from several suppliers and building and shipping the final kits. TouchKeys Instruments Ltd has also been spun-out with Andrew in a leading executive role and currently in promising discussions with major licensees and investors.

Highly Commended: Professor Yuti Chernajovsky

Yuti and his team have generated a drug delivery system capable of extending the half-life of drugs and ensuring their delivery only to sites of disease. Thirteen years ago, a spin-out company Steathyx, was spun-out of QMUL to commercialise this technology. Yuti has managed to continue development over the years in a very difficult investment climate for biotechnology with grants from the MRC, Wellcome Trust, EU and other sources to provide proof of principle in models of several autoimmune diseases, inflammation and cancer. This year Yuti played a vital role in securing £2M investment from Index Ventures to enable the Steathyx technology to enter clinical trials.

Student Enterprise

Entrepreneurial Student of the Year 

Entrepreneurial Student of the Year

For innovative self-starters who can evidence that they’ve used their creativity and leadership skills to make a significant contribution to an entrepreneurial project (or multiple projects)

Winner: Ivan Tan

Ivan Tan is a serial entrepreneur who, while he was studying for his first degree at Bath, set up Brook Alternative, an art investment business that has since had a six figure investment sum and has now opened an office in Mayfair. While at Queen Mary he developed a free events app ‘Bevvy’, securing both Try It and Grow It funds and a place on the first cohort of the InQUBEate, start-up incubator programme.

Highly Commended: Simone Fattouche

While studying for an accelerated two year law degree at Queen Mary, Simone had the idea for an app that could replace traditional paper shop receipts. She pitched the idea at Queen Mary’s 3-Day Start-up and assembled a team to test out the idea.  Since then she used the mentor contacts from the bootcamp to help her to find a technical co-founder, and BillHive was born.

Simone is a great example of someone who had an idea and used her leadership and resourcefulness to build a team in order to make her vision a reality.

Most Promising Student Business of the Year 

Most Promising Student Business of the Year

For student businesses of high achievement and with strong foundations for future success.

Winner: Luna, Soham Trivedi and Robin Bhaduri

A mobile app that guides you to the safest walking routes at night, co-founded by Soham Trivedi and Robin Bhaduri. Since the formation of the concept in October of 2014, Luna has grown exponentially. They are now partnered with almost every council in Greater London as well as business development districts in Camden and Waterloo to collect data.

They won the iDEA award in April, and since then have partnered with Microsoft, Facebook and Barclays, as well as teaming up with Google who are covering digital infrastructure costs up to £100k.They’ve also been finalists in the Founders Forum and Santander 60 Second Pitch competitions.

Highly Commended: Kam Alive

A brother and sister duo who hand-make fresh, raw and healthy chocolate that has no added sugar, no wheat, and is vegan friendly. Ariel studied design and innovation at Queen Mary and won a Grow It award in 2014 to help increase manufacturing capacity of the business.

Since starting as a small farmers market stall they are now stocked in 3 high street retailers, sell through their own website, and are included in two monthly subscription boxes.  

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