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Formula 1 technology to help NHS improve neonatal care

20 January 2016


The latest technology from the Formula 1 motorsport industry is being trialled at Central Manchester University Hospitals and could transform the care of critically ill new-born babies in the health sector.

This initiative and other examples of ‘horizontal innovation’ – the transfer of technology from one industry to another – are being showcased at a special event today organised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA).

A piece of equipment commonly used in motorsport, is attached to the incubator to provide vital data as the baby is moved between hospitals. This data includes ambulance speed, G forces and vibration experienced by the baby related to the stability of the vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure. This information is crucial as premature and critically ill babies needing intensive care treatment are at increased risk of brain injury.

The improved understanding of the physiological effects of movement and vibration that this motorsport technology brings could mean the difference between life and death for new-born babies at a critical stage. The technology will also lead to significant improvements in ambulance and incubator design and real-time driver feedback, to improve the long-term health outcomes, when journeys between hospitals are unavoidable.

Today’s event will also showcase other examples of horizontal innovation, including how F1 technology could help to reduce the energy consumed by supermarket refrigerators. Williams Advanced Engineering is currently working with leading supermarkets, Sainsbury’s and Asda, to trial new technology in a retrofit aerofoil system to keep more of the cool air inside the refrigerator cabinet, resulting in significant energy savings. These store trials have shown an average energy saving of 21 per cent, which is significant given that around three per cent of the country’s electricity goes into supermarket refrigerators.

Naomi Climer, IET President, said: “Horizontal innovation is a new and ground-breaking area that all kinds of industries could benefit from and could give us the answers to some of our greatest challenges. Healthcare and retail are two industries that are already seeing the benefits of exploiting cross-sector technology transfer from parallel industries like motorsport, but there could be many more.

“At the moment we have barely touched the tip of the iceberg in exploiting the opportunity horizontal innovation presents for the UK, and innovation in general, which is why the IET has launched a UK-wide initiative to raise awareness and encourage wider take-up.”

“Innovative technologies and exceptional engineering capabilities have been created by UK motorsport suppliers, and their best-of-the-best employees, to meet the relentless, fast-response demands of world-championship motorsport” said Chris Aylett, Chief Executive of the MIA, “Increasingly, in recent years, these unique assets are being utilised successfully by diverse industries including defence, rail, aerospace and automotive as a result of the promotion of increased collaboration by the MIA. The wider engineering and technology industries in the UK industry stand to benefit if horizontal innovation increases and becomes normal practice. I am hopeful this initiative will accelerate the required progress to meet this challenge”

The event marks the start of a joint programme of events and knowledge sharing activities between the IET and MIA. These will highlight UK motorsport as a ‘best practice’ example of what could, and should, be achieved more widely by other sectors, across the UK and internationally, sharing knowledge, processes and technology. These could include Defence, Food, Healthcare, Energy, Retail, Agriculture, Communications, Transport and the Built Environment, among others.

As part of this activity, the IET has launched a new Horizontal Innovation category at the IET Innovation Awards, a new bespoke online community and a new innovation programme which will unlock funding and support for an SME technology transfer proposal.

This is a ground breaking, ambitious and long-term collaboration, which will promote wider take-up of horizontal innovation.

The event is taking place at the IET’s recently reopened flagship venue Savoy Place, following a £30 million, two year redevelopment.

Media enquiries to:

Hannah Kellett
External Communications Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1438 767336
Mob: +44 (0)7738 602426
Email: HKellett@theiet.org

Rebecca Gillick
Communications Executive

Tel: +44 (0)1438 765 618
Mob: +44 (0)7725 498 129
Email: rgillick@theiet.org

Notes to editors:

  • Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespeople from a broad range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and women in engineering.
  • The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with over 167,000 members in 127 countries. It is also the most interdisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.
  • The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.
  • For more information, visit www.theiet.org
  • Follow the IET on Twitter.

About the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA)
Interview opportunities would be welcomed by the CEO of the MIA, in regard to this initiative and any other motorsport industry matter. These can be arranged by contacting carrim.bundhun@the-mia.com or calling +44 2476 692600.

The Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) www.the-mia.com is the world’s leading trade association for the motorsport, high performance engineering, and services sectors. It represents the specialised needs of a highly successful UK industry which has nearly £10 billion of sales and employs some 50,000 people of which half are ‘involved in engineering. The industry which is centred here in the UK extends throughout the world and is rapidly expanding in the developing nations.

The MIA membership displays a wide demographic spread, including; motorsport and performance engineering companies, race and rally teams, governing bodies, motorsport services, research organisations, race circuits and universities and colleges.