Cumbrian company Innovus has helped two totally different Eden-based projects move forward – underwater and underground.
Years of experience perfecting the design and manufacture of trawling equipment for the scallop fishing market have made Appleby-based Barrnon’s product ideal for the delicate business of lifting sludge from the bottom of Sellafield’s storage ponds.
With support from Innovus, a programme devised and run by National Nuclear Laboratory and The University of Manchester and funded by Regional Growth Fund and Britain’s Energy Coast, in partnership with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Barrnon has developed its product for the new application at NNL’s Workington Laboratory, resulting in a working prototype.
Now, following demonstration of its effectiveness to business leaders from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Sellafield Ltd, the product has been taken up and Barrnon have been awarded a contract to continue the development work with a view to its being used at Sellafield.
Adrian Davis-Johnston of NNL, and the programme director of Innovus, said: “I’m keen on scallops, but I’m even keener to see the clean-up at Sellafield and the success of our Cumbrian businesses in helping to achieve that. Innovation sometimes comes from the most unlikely places.”
Neil Smart, head of Sellafield Ltd’s Technology Demonstration Alliance said: “We’re delighted by how quickly the new collaboration with Innovus has led to a prospective breakthrough in this area.
“The centuries-old principles of the fishing industry are not the first place one would look to solve the challenges facing the UK in decommissioning its early development of nuclear energy, but the value of the technology transfer approach has certainly been proven with this product.”
Andy Barr, managing director of Barrnon, said: “Innovus provided a first class interface for us, examining our ideas and giving us confidence to explore the nuclear market and then provided us a stage to demonstrate our products to industry leaders.
“We have been overwhelmed by the commitment of the Innovus team; they are passionate and they care.”
Innovus funding is also helping a project that could help genealogists – and cemetery managers.
Atlantic Geomatics, which carries out land, underground and building surveys, will be surveying all the burial grounds in the county over the next few years.
The project will potentially transform burial site planning by providing information on burial space remaining, locations of paths, and details of trees and drainage.
The Penrith-based company will use unmanned aerial vehicles, take photographs of monuments and headstones, and interpret handwritten records going back hundreds of years to form a vital product to customers.
The idea behind the project came from Atlantic Geomatics managing director Tim Viney following personal frustration in trying to find a person’s grave.
Mr Viney said: “There are an estimated 15,000 burial grounds in the UK and we will be working very hard to help as many of them as we can to have the best records possible and to serve their customers just as efficiently.”
The business has received cash from Innovus, with an extra award of £90,000 allocated to help Atlantic Geomatics build the idea into the solution of choice nationally for managing burial grounds. The project has created six new jobs in Cumbria.
Adrian Davis-Johnston said he saw the potential in the idea immediately.
He said: “I’m a keen genealogist myself and had recently dragged my family round the graveyards of Cornwall looking for a great grandparent’s grave.
“Atlantic Geomatics have quickly engineered a total product that will work for a number of customers at the same time, and Innovus is excited to be investing in a project that will create tens of new jobs in the county.”
Mr Viney said: “The support of customers and of Innovus has been vital to getting this project ready to roll out in under 12 months.”
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