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MacRobert Award 2020: search is on for the best in UK engineering innovation

The Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award is open for entries, seeking the best of UK engineering innovation in 2020.

Engineers play a profoundly important role in shaping the world – from designing our cities and transport systems to delivering clean energy solutions, enhancing cybersecurity and advancing healthcare. The MacRobert Award recognises outstanding engineering innovations developed in the UK that can demonstrate commercial success and a tangible benefit to society. The team behind the winning innovation receives a £50,000 cash prize, a gold medal and national acclaim.

Over the past five decades the MacRobert Award has been remarkably accurate in predicting the key innovations that would change the world we live in. The inaugural winners in 1969 were Rolls-Royce for Pegasus – the world’s first short takeoff and vertical landing engine that powered the iconic Harrier aircraft – and Freeman, Fox and Partners for the aerodynamic deck design of the Severn Bridge, which heralded a new era of bridge building and was Grade I listed in 1999.

The MacRobert Award has celebrated a string of engineering firsts developed in the UK that have impacted on many sectors, including medicine, transport, manufacturing and technology. In 1972 it recognised the life-saving potential of the CT scanner, with Sir Godfrey Hounsfield and his team at EMI winning the MacRobert Award seven years before he was awarded the Nobel Prize. CT scanners are now found in hospitals around the world.

More recent winners include Owlstone Medical, who won the MacRobert Award in 2018 for the ReCIVA® Breath Sampler for disease diagnosis, the first technology that can capture breath samples in the systemic way required for both large-scale clinical trials and for clinical practice. The company aims to save 100,000 lives and $1.5 billion in healthcare costs globally.

Belfast-based Bombardier won the 2019 MacRobert Award in recognition of their resin-infused advanced composite wing that minimises an aircraft’s environmental impact by reducing both weight and fuel burn in flight, and waste during manufacture. Members of the team spoke about their innovation at a celebration event at the Royal Academy of Engineering on 21 November.

Michael Ryan CBE FREng, Chief Operating Officer, Aerostructures, Bombardier Aviation, said:

“Bombardier Belfast was delighted to receive the Royal Academy of Engineering’s MacRobert Award in its 50th anniversary year. It’s a superb endorsement of the company’s drive to develop cutting-edge technology and play a key role in clean-sheet aircraft design.

“The prestige and exposure associated with the award continue to highlight our strong track record of innovation in advanced composites and our potential to further advance our skills and expertise in this competitive arena. 2019 has been an exciting year for our Belfast operation!”

Professor Sir Richard Friend FREng FRS, chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award judging panel, and a former winner of the Award, said:

“UK engineering impacts our everyday lives, and it will only become more important as we face up to the challenges of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, improving health and wellbeing, and widening access to the benefits of the rapid increase in capacity in communications, AI and computing. Engineers shape the future, and the past winners of MacRobert Award for UK engineering innovation have developed many technological developments that we now take for granted.

“Engineering innovation is not just part of the UK’s heritage, it’s also key to our future success. It is vital that we recognise and celebrate the innovations that have a demonstrable benefit to our lives and will help to sustain society and benefit the economy for generations to come.”

Finalists for the MacRobert Award 2020 will be announced in June and the winner will be announced at the Academy Awards Dinner in London on 6 July.

Notes for Editors

  1. Entries for the 2020 MacRobert Award are currently open. The deadline for applications is 31 January 2020.
    Click here to enter
  1. About the MacRobert Award. First presented in 1969, the MacRobert Award is widely regarded as the most coveted in the industry. Founded by the MacRobert Trust and supported by the Worshipful Company of Engineers, the Award is managed and presented by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Previous winners include Cambridge Display Technologies who won the MacRobert Award for its light emitting polymer displays for televisions and smart phones. In 2014 the Award was given to Cobalt Light Systems, which pioneered a technique to determine the chemical composition of materials in containers and behind a range of other barriers including skin, for use in airport scanners and medical diagnostics. Past awardees have also included Blatchford, for the development of the world’s most intelligent prosthetic limb; Jaguar Land Rover for the Range Rover Evoque; Microsoft Research for Kinect for Xbox 360; and Raspberry Pi for the world’s smallest and most affordable desktop computer.

More information and a full list of previous winners and finalists here

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering

As the UK’s national academy for engineering and technology, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers from academia and business – our Fellows – to advance and promote excellence in engineering for the benefit of society.

We harness their experience and expertise to provide independent advice to government, to deliver programmes that help exceptional engineering researchers and innovators realise their potential, to engage the public with engineering and to provide leadership for the profession.

We have three strategic priorities:

  • Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation and businesses
  • Address the engineering skills and diversity challenge
  • Position engineering at the heart of society

We bring together engineers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, academics, educators and the public in pursuit of these goals.

Engineering is a global profession, so we work with partners across the world to advance engineering’s contribution to society on an international, as well as a national scale.

For more information please contact: Victoria Runcie at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0620; email: [email protected]

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