Article - Issue 48, September 2011

Silver Medals - Profiles of each of the four winners of The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Silver Medals 2011

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The Royal Academy of Engineering’s prestigious Silver Medals were awarded by its President, Lord Browne of Madingley, at the Academy’s Awards evening in June 2011. Introduced in 1994, they provide recognition for the UK’s most talented engineering professionals. The medals are given to those who have made important personal contributions to the engineering landscape that have resulted in successful market exploitation. The four winners and their achievements are profiled below.

Dr Shaun Fitzgerald

Dr Shaun Fitzgerald

Dr Shaun Fitzgerald

Dr Shaun Fitzgerald’s medal is in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the development and commercialisation of ‘e-stack’ technology, a pioneering method developed to provide low energy natural ventilation in buildings. The technique uses the principles of natural mixing ventilation in winter and natural upward displacement ventilation in the summer.

A specialist in natural ventilation, he completed a PhD in Geothermal Reservoirs at Cambridge University before heading to Stanford University, California. When he returned to Cambridge University, his studies in energy reduction through natural ventilation at the BPInstitute led to the discovery of the innovative e-stack system, which was subsequently patented.

From this springboard he went on to co-found Breathing Buildings in 2006; his expertise and business drive helping to make it a multi-million pound success and the UK’s leading low energy ventilation company. DrFitzgerald’s leadership and mix of engineering excellence and business sense has enabled him to take Breathing Buildings’ venture to a new level and he has recently negotiated sales partnerships to increase the market presence of e-stack technology both at home and abroad.

The company itself has recently won a British Private Equity and Venture Capital Award for the Midlands Region, representing a double celebration for both Breathing Buildings and its co-founder.
For more information see Innovation Watch on page 52.

Dr Karin Hing

Dr Karin Hing

Dr Karin Hing

Dr Karin Hing, a senior lecturer in biomedical materials at Queen Mary, University of London, was the “technical linchpin” behind the orthobiologics company ApaTech. She used her research into the bioactivity of bone graft substitutes, used in orthopaedic surgery, to develop the hypothesis that bone healing could be enhanced through optimisation of both graft pore structure and chemistry.

Her work was influenced and enhanced by consultation with leading orthopaedic surgeons and this research highlighted the fact that these end users wanted strut porosity as this facilitated blood wicking and handling similar to ‘autograft’. From these findings, she proceeded to invent a novel production route for the manufacture of the port structures. ApaTech, was launched after Dr Hing and her team secured venture capital funding from 3i in 2001.

Having been responsible for developing revolutionary bone graft substitute materials including ApaPore™ and Actifuse™, the company recently sold for in excess of £200 million, proving that the commercialisation of research can be an extremely lucrative business as well as changing the landscape of engineering and medical practice.

In the 10 years before it sold, ApaTech had expanded into nine countries with annual revenue of around £40 million. Dr Hing is only the third woman to win a Silver Medal.

Professor Doug King

Professor Doug King

Professor Doug King

When he founded King Shaw Associates in 2002, Doug King’s aim was to combine high levels of research and teaching within a commercial design practice. His contribution to some of the most groundbreaking sustainable buildings of the last decade made him a natural choice for a Silver Medal Award.

Doug King’s firm is involved in a wide variety of building projects tackling issues such as energy conservation, human comfort and productivity. The firm considers the application of building physics to the architecture and construction of the building to be as much a part of the environmental control systems as the building services. This has led, among other approaches, to the most sustainable building ever measured under the BREEAM environmental rating system. King Shaw Associates has also provided consultancy services to a range of high profile clients and institutions including the Royal Albert Hall and the British Library.

While running the company, Doug King also manages to lecture and tutor sustainable design at the University of Bath in the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering. In 2008, he became a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor of Building Engineering Physics.

He is currently involved in a research effort which aims to quantify the range of skills needed for the construction industry to meet the low carbon agenda.

Professor Eric Yeatman

Professor Eric Yeatman

Professor Eric Yeatman

The co-founder of one of the UK’s first research groups dealing with micro-electrical-mechanical systems (MEMS) at Imperial College London, Professor Eric Yeatman went on to invent a number of new research methods. With the assistance of colleagues, these new research methods helped to ensure that the university became a world leader in the MEMS field.

In 2001, he and his colleagues used their extensive portfolio of technologies and intellectual property to found Microsaic Systems Ltd, and in 2011 the company entered the London Stock Exchange with Professor Yeatman as its chairman.

The company initially developed organically without the need of venture funding. It has grown to over 20employees, and has become the first firm in the world to offer MEMS based mass spectrometers, including the first desktop-sized instrument for liquid analysis.

Microsaic has not been Professor Yeatman’s only significant commercialisation activity. He has served on the advisory boards of two venture capital companies, was a member of the advisory board of an Israeli photonics start-up, and has been a technical consultant to a number of high profile clients and companies including Nortel and Texas Instruments.

With over 2,000 citations to date, Professor Yeatman’s research continues to flourish and his current research interests include radio frequency and photonic MEMS devices, and also energy harvesting for wireless sensor nodes.

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