Since it was established 10 years ago, The Ingenuity Network has grown into a thriving community of over 1800 individuals. Here, we feature examples of how some of those individuals have benefited from working with The University of Nottingham. This month our featured member is Julian Smith from Polestar.
Julian Smith is the managing director of Polestar, a company that provides specialised IT Services. As Julian explains, “We work with an industrial client base who vary in size, geography and sector – many people, ourselves included, now call these services Industrial Internet of Things (or IIoT for short)!”
Polestar’s core product is their consultative approach and their specialist knowledge. Polestars expertise is in the design, implementation and support of ‘end to end connected platforms’ that acquire, transport and analyse data for their customers, mainly in the manufacturing, healthcare & utilities sectors.
Julian explains one of Polestars current projects: “One of our current IIoT projects is a Lone Worker Application we are developing which takes information from environmental, physical and wearable sensors enabling engineers to work alone in hazardous or challenging environments. By taking data from these sensors and integrating it into high levels of automation, the benefit is not only safety (e.g. detecting and alerting if a worker falls or is stationary too long), but also increases in efficiency and productivity brought about by minimal human intervention.”
“We first connected with the network about 11 months ago when we went to one of their events – KnowledgeXchange Innovation Funding in July 2016. I also met Steve Upcraft after a presentation he did at Nottingham Business Club at about the same time.
So for us, the immediate value was the ‘entry point’ – i.e. where we went to work out who was who, how to engage with the university, who to liaise with in terms of bridging the gap between the academic and the commercial world.
Quite a few of the people we talked to who are engaged in promoting Nottingham as a regional centre of excellence pointed us in the direction of Ingenuity for various different requirements we had – for example, helping us find out who would be the appropriate person to talk to regarding Advanced Manufacturing.
We’ve also made used of the events (like the one mentioned above) to learn about sources of funding and by attending these events we have made contact with likeminded businesses and exchanged ideas as well as resources.
Since joining Ingenuity, we are in the early stages of joining the Horizon 2020 programme. We are also about to take on our first student placement from the Postgraduate Placement Network (PPN).”
We asked Julian to summarise what impact the Ingenuity Network has had on the business, he replied “In a single sentence? To paraphrase a famous catchphrase, ‘We liked it so much, that we decided to move Polestar to Jubilee Campus to be closer to the opportunities the network has presented to us (after 18 years based in the City Centre)’.”
We then asked Julian if he would recommend the Ingenuity Network – he replied “Yes, absolutely. I’ve also recommended to several business associates that they sign up the Ingenuity newsletter as there are some very informative events and good networking opportunities that can enable them to keep abreast of what is going on at the University – especially if they do not have any contacts working within any of the departments or organisations.”