The MacRobert Award 2015 finalists and their engineering breakthroughs

Three innovative British engineering firms have been selected for the Royal Academy of Engineering's prestigious MacRobert award. Fighting it out for the gold medal and £50,000 prize this year are Artemis Intelligent Power, Endomag and Victrex.

The MacRobert Award 2015
The UK's longest running national prize for engineering sees three industry pioneers compete for a gold medal and a £50,000 cash prize. Originally founded by the MacRobert Trusts, the MacRobert Award is now presented by The Royal Academy of Engineering, who will unveil the winners at their annual awards dinner in London on 16 July.

The 2015 MacRobert Award finalists

Edinburgh-based Artemis Intelligent Power has developed a digital hydraulic power system that unlocks the ability to generate much greater levels of power from offshore wind turbines. As well as dramatically improving power capacity, the smart, modular system has been designed to overcome the significant reliability issues associated with existing turbines. Artemis is already developing world-leading systems, dramatically improving turbine efficiency and with it the prospects for future exploitation of wind power.

Artemis Intelligent Power

Endomag is based in Cambridge and has pioneered a new breast cancer diagnostic tool that avoids the use of radioactive tracers in determining the spread of cancer through the lymphatic system. The cost and logistical challenges of relying on radioactive material have meant that sentinel lymph node biopsy – currently the best method of breast cancer staging – is only available to one in six patients globally, creating a ‘postcode lottery’ for effective diagnosis. The SentiMag probe developed by Endomag identifies sentinel lymph nodes for removal by detecting a magnetic, rather than radioactive, tracer signal.

Breast cancer diagnostic tool

Blackpool-based Victrex has created the highest performing ultra-thin polymers (plastics) in the world. Initially enabling smartphone speakers and earbuds to produce high-quality sound without risk of failure, they could now be a key material for enabling the flexible electronics revolution. In forms up to 20 times thinner than a human hair, the PEEK polymer is already found in over a billion consumer electronic devices and is also used as a lightweight replacement for metal in aircraft, cars and medical implants.

Ultra thin polymers

Examples of engineering for growth in action

The MacRobert Award is determined by a panel of 10 judges representing a broad spectrum of engineering expertise and each a leader in their field. Last year’s winner, SME Cobalt Light Systems, won for the innovation behind an airport security liquid scanner that can now be found in over 65 airports throughout Europe. The same technology is also being used to detect counterfeit goods and analyse food.

Dame Sue Ion DBE FREng, Chair of the MacRobert Award judging panel, said, “Each of this year’s finalists has demonstrated remarkable drive and determination to achieve technical advances that can make a considerable difference to many aspects of our lives. The variety and standard of engineering skills behind each innovation is testament to the UK’s strength in the sector.

Innovative engineering is the key to our future growth in the UK and we will have to make increasing use of our knowledge and creative talent if we are to take advantage of this opportunity. These three companies are great examples of engineering for growth in action.

We think you'll agree that all three finalists have staked an impressive claim to the MacRobert crown. The ultimate winner though is British engineering, which continues to produce some of the world's most progressive innovators and breakthrough solutions. Who do you think should win?

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