News round-up

Read our news in brief

Plymouth Pioneers

Plymouth is renowned for its historical connection to pioneers of the past. From Drake to Darwin, Cook to Chichester, the city’s coastal location has provided a maritime gateway for many expeditions and voyages of discovery. The University has paid tribute to that heritage through a new and ongoing campaign that celebrates some of the academics that have helped to establish its international reputation.

Plymouth Pioneers launched on billboards across the capital – Professor Gerd Masselink, Professor Deborah Greaves OBE, Professor Alison Raby, Professor Richard Thompson OBE, Professor Kevin Jones, and Professor Mat Upton – the inaugural academics who have led pioneering research into coastal processes, coastal engineering, marine biology, maritime cybersecurity and medical microbiology between them.

As part of the campaign, a range of videos and written content are being produced that focuses upon the work of the academics, with more to be profiled later in the year.

“Our ongoing campaign reframes that heritage as a modern-day story of how the University of Plymouth established itself as an international pioneer in research, teaching and sustainability practices,” says Professor Jerry Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Research and Enterprise. “It charts and celebrates our quest to understand the challenges faced by the environment, our passion to advance thinking on issues of vital importance such as climate change and renewable energies, and our pioneering spirit in seeking novel approaches to remedying them.”

<p>plymouth pioneers black and white</p>
<p>plymouth pioneers black and white&nbsp;</p>

Spinout companies raise £1 million in equity funding

Two innovative businesses that have commercially ‘spun out’ from University research have raised almost £1 million in equity funding this year to advance their groundbreaking endeavours. 

The Vaccine Group, launched to commercialise the work of Dr Michael Jarvis, Associate Professor (Reader) in Virology and Immunology, has raised £680,000 in funding to enhance its research into novel vaccine technologies targeting zoonotic diseases – those which jump from animals to humans. These include Ebola, bird flus and SARs as well as those that impact economically important livestock, such as bovine tuberculosis.

Meanwhile, Fieldwork Robotics, which advances the robotics expertise of Dr Martin Stoelen, has raised almost £300,000 through an initial equity funding round. This will accelerate and scale up the development of its novel robotics technology for harvesting soft fruit and vegetables, including a raspberry-picking version that has successfully completed two field trials with one of the UK’s leading fruit growers.

The University’s intellectual property partner Frontier IP has supported The Vaccine Group, Fieldwork Robotics and several other successful University spinouts, along with the Research and Innovation team.

<p>Michael Jarvis</p>
Dr Michael Jarvis, Associate Professor (Reader) in Virology and Immunology
<p>Fieldwork robotics</p>
Harvesting robots

University sets course for maritime cyber-security excellence

Research into the issue of cybersecurity in the shipping industry is an area of expertise for the University – and one that has been boosted by two major funding successes. Firstly, the University is to establish a £3 million Cyber-SHIP Lab, supported by investment from Research England, which will bring together a host of connected maritime systems currently found on an actual ship’s bridge.

The Lab will complement the University’s existing maritime facilities, including its ship simulator, and is being developed and delivered in partnership with key industry sectors including equipment manufacturers, solution developers, shipping and port operators, ship builders, classification agencies and insurance companies. It will feature cutting-edge maritime technology such as radar equipment, voyage data recorders (VDR), Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS), automatic identification systems (AIS) and communications devices.

Plymouth is also the only UK institution to have been invited to join the €7million, eight-country, Cyber-MAR project, which over the next three years will work to develop greater awareness of the cyber threats facing the global shipping fleet and the most effective ways of countering them.

Professor Kevin Jones, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, and the University’s lead for both projects, said: 

“Cyber-attacks are a Tier1 National UK threat, so these are very timely developments both for our University and the interests of our national shipping industry. The creation of the Cyber-SHIP Lab is a transformational step towards developing a national centre for research into maritime cyber-security, and through Cyber-MAR, Plymouth can create training programmes that will prepare future workforces for the threats they might encounter and how to tackle them.”

<p>Marine Navigation Centre. ship simulator<br></p>
<p>Marine Navigation Centre. ship simulator<br></p>