Ground-breaking innovations celebrated at the E&T Innovation Awards 2021

Winning the top prize, Esther Ngumbi was named the E&T Difference Maker of the Year, for her outstanding and inspiring work as a researcher, author, public servant, entrepreneur, and educator.

Born in a rural farming community along the Kenyan Coast, Esther studied hard at school with the drive to rescue her family and community from poverty and to be a role model to many young African girls.

Despite the notion that education for girls was unimportant where she lived, Esther gained her doctorate degree in Entomology from Auburn University – becoming the first woman in her community to obtain a Ph.D. degree.

In 2012, Esther and her parents founded the Dr. Ndumi Faulu Academy, a school for children in Kenya and in 2014, she created Oyeska Greens, a startup that teaches smallholder farmers in and around her community how to use updated technologies and methods in agriculture.

On winning, Esther said: “I am extremely humbled and honored to receive this award! First, winning this award made me realise that the World is watching.

Second, it inspired me to keep going - to keep doing the work I so passionately love – paving the way for many more women and girls through education so that they can break the poverty barrier and other barriers and go on to achieve every dream they have.

Go on to become scientists like me, doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, and much more. I also know that when they succeed, the community succeeds, the country succeeds, and our Global World becomes a better place for all.

“I am inspired to keep sharing agricultural knowledge with farmers in my community and many communities around the world. Indeed, winning this award has allowed me to reflect on how far we have come and recognise the journey that is still ahead of me.

Until many more women and girls achieve greatness, I will keep on. I will never tire. On behalf of the people I serve, thank you. To the selection committee of E&T awards - thank you!”

Other innovations that won prizes at this year’s awards included the first functional dengue fever early warning system and a laser-based sensor that can help to diagnose heart and lung disease.

Now in its seventeenth year, the E&T Innovation Awards are the ultimate celebration for people, projects, and organisations that are revolutionising our world through excellence in engineering and technology.

This year’s Awards, hosted by Fran Scott, included a range of new categories to reflect the societal challenges that rely on engineers and technologists for their solution.

Chris Hayhurst, European Consulting Manager at MathWorks, the headline sponsor for E&T Innovation Awards, said: “The IET has a long history of encouraging and rewarding innovation.

This year the innovation awards have evolved with new categories including Future Mobility and Trust and Truth to recognise the innovations that matter now. We were excited to see strong shortlists for all the categories.

The inspiring award winners again illustrate how science, technology, engineering and mathematics can make a big impact on our lives and address some of society’s greatest challenges.”

IET President, Sir Julian Young said: “These annual awards celebrate the achievements of the most outstanding innovators across engineering and technology.  

Our finalists come from a diverse range of companies and academic institutions from across the world, with their innovations tackling major economic and societal challenges.

“With the IET’s mission to inspire excellence in engineering and technology, we are so proud to demonstrate our support, putting ground-breaking innovations in the spotlight and helping to advance this essential and fundamental work.  

On behalf of all our members, I send a huge congratulations to all our winners.”

The 2021 E&T Innovation Award winners are:

  • Difference Maker of the Year: Esther Ngumbi
  • Digital Health and Social Care: HR Wallingford for the D-MOSS Dengue Fever Early Warning System: Using Satellite Earth Observations & Machine Learning to Forecast Dengue Fever
  • Future Power and Energy: Tsinghua University for Large capacity DC breaking technology
  • Communications and IT: University of Aeronautics and Astronautics for AerialRadioOverseer – an AI-enabled unmanned aerial vehicle radio monitoring system
  • Manufacturing 4.0: Cambridge Precision Limited for Cobotic Hub
  • Sustainability and Climate Change: Innovyze and Fairfield Control Systems for Building a Sustainable Future - Glasgow's Smart Canal
  • Protecting Society and Saving Lives: Stantec, Thames Water, The London Fire Brigade for the London Fire Flow, a system for water suppliers and fire services to be able to calculate the firefighting capacity of a water supply system and buildings’ fire flow requirements
  • Cyber Security: Crypto Quantique for harnessing quantum tunnelling delivers ultimate security for IoT devices
  • R&D: Element Six Global Innovation Centre for DNV-B1™, the world’s first widely available quantum diamond grade optimised for a wide range of quantum applications
  • Tech for Good: HR Wallingford for the D-MOSS Dengue Fever Early Warning System: Using Satellite Earth Observations & Machine Learning to Forecast Dengue Fever
  • Smarter World: Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics for AerialRadioOverseer – an AI-enabled unmanned aerial vehicle radio monitoring system
  • Future Mobility: Furrer+Frey GB Limited for rapid battery chargers to power-up a very light rail revolution & create sustainable transport option for smaller towns
  • Intelligent Systems: Roke for STARTLE® for Maritime (S4M) – designed to assist the Royal Navy in understanding the evolving Situational Awareness (SA) picture around a ship
  • Future Unicorn: Donisi Health for contact free bio-sensing and diagnosis
  • Diversity, Equality & Inclusion: SpaceML for SpaceML Worldview Search: Distributed Open-source Research with Citizen Scientists for the Advancement of Space Technology for NASA
  • Trust & Truth: Seldon for Seldon Albi – an open-source Python library designed to offer clear unbiased insights into the workings of machine learning models, ensuring decisions are accurate and ethical
  • Young Pioneer: Shafae Ali, Alfie Mcmeeking, Andy Ferdinand, Premal Gadhia and Judith Weill from Imperial College London for their project to make the footwear industry sustainable through AR digital skins and 3D-printed biodegradable self-healing technology

The E&T Innovation Awards are sponsored by MathWorks, Arrow Electronics, Emerson, GCHQ and National Grid.

Find out more about the E&T Innovation Awards.

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