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Kingston University partners with BIG South London to support local businesses in delivery of innovative new projects

Posted Friday 24 September 2021

Kingston University partners with BIG South London to support local businesses in delivery of innovative new projects

Organisations from across the region are harnessing Kingston University's academic expertise, student talent and specialist facilities to help deliver a series of innovative projects in business, mental health, farming, cyber security, climate action and more.

Businesses were able to apply for a £5,000 Open Innovation Voucher to work with the University on the delivery of a defined project through the BIG (Business, Innovation and Growth) in South London programme.

Kingston is one of six universities involved in the pioneering programme which encourages collaboration between universities and businesses to promote economic growth, innovation and recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Academic staff will help provide the technology and expertise required to support the delivery of the projects.

One of the successful applications is the Urban Re-Leaf project, led by Merton Climate Action Group. The organisation will be working with Dr Kristof Fatsar from the Department of Architecture and Landscape and Dr Kerry Brown from the Department of Geography, Geology and the Environment. The scheme aims to make use of under-utilised green spaces and help the borough reach its net zero target.  Students in landscape architecture and urbanism and environmental science will be conducting townscape surveys and carrying out soil tests, and able to benefit from working on a live project.

University cyber security experts will be supporting another project, which aims to replace password-based logins using other identifying data. Dr Eckhard Pfluegel from the School of Computer Science and Mathematics will be working with Incubiq Solutions Ltd on developing and commercialising the Authenly app – a passwordless authentication solution –helping organisations simplify website integration.

BeesMax will collaborate with Dr Gordon Hunter from the School of Computer Science and Mathematics, to create an alternative methodology to using honey and pollen to collect pollutants which have accumulated within their bees' pollinator colonies. Surrey Honey Farm Ltd will work with Dr Rosa Busquets from the School of Life Sciences, Pharmacy and Chemistry and Dr Olga Duran from the School of Engineering and the Environment to create the analytical processes to quantify the destructive and degrading impact that chemicals and particularly airborne pollutants have on honeybees.

Other successful projects include a partnership between Create4Mental Health and Professor Gaëlle Vallée-Tourangeau from Kingston Business School to boost engagement with mental health services for 18–25-year-olds, and a project between Professor Andy Augousti from the School of Engineering and the Environment, and engineering consultancy Geodome Ltd to develop a new instrument for measuring pressure inside the eye.

Another voucher award will see Dr Gordon Hunter and Professor Andy Augousti working with Agsenze Ltd on a new device for monitoring codling moths, a common pest of fruit crops, through acoustic detection to help farmers have better fruit yields.

Shinealight will work with Dr Pingfei Jiang and Dr Diana-Nicoleta Vienescu from the School of Engineering and the Environment to create a revolutionary new concept in lighting design. Students will be key to this project - three students have been selected based on their computer-aided design and mechanical design, as well as their communication skills. They will work not only on reverse engineering an existing complex design but also be the main workforce in carrying out design, prototyping and testing of a range of variations based on the existing product.

In a joint project with University of Roehampton, Merton Chamber of Commerce will work in partnership with Dr Yuliana Topazly from Kingston Business School and Dr Mamata Parhi
from Roehampton Business School to compare Chambers' business models and levels of engagement from businesses.

The BIG scheme was launched at a leadership summit attended by the Vice-Chancellors of the six partner universities and borough councils, with former Universities Minister Chris Skidmore MP as the keynote speaker. 

As part of BIG, Kingston University aims to develop meaningful partnerships across the region and to enhance opportunities for staff as well as students while helping the regional economy grow. The scheme particularly focuses on the London Boroughs of Kingston, Richmond, Sutton, Merton and Croydon.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative earlier this year, Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier outlined how the pandemic had highlighted the important role that universities can play in their regions and their economies.

"Kingston University is incredibly proud to be involved in this ambitious and exciting initiative and we look forward to working with local businesses to help rebuild our local economy and communities," he added.

"As a university, we are well placed to support our local business community with a wealth of student and staff talent, academic and research expertise, and specialist facilities, and I urge our local businesses to make the most of what Kingston University has to offer."


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