Event encourages Sino-British collaboration in innovative technologies

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An event showcasing innovative British companies was hosted by Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, with expert speakers presenting on manufacturing automation, 3D scanning and printing, and virtual reality technologies to benefit people with autism.

The Digital Britain: Innovation in IoT and Manufacturing event was organised in collaboration with Queen Mary University of London and several British companies specialising in innovative technologies.

The event was attended by XJTLU academic and research staff with the hope that it would lead to mutually beneficial collaboration between XJTLU and industry leaders, both here in China and in the UK.

Gareth Taylor, consul of science and innovation at the British Consulate General, Shanghai, gave a talk highlighting Britain’s achievements in the fields of technology and innovation.

“Innovations Britain has pioneered in the last several decades include the discovery of the structure of DNA, creation of the World Wide Web, CT scanners, and graphene,” he said. “Britain has produced 89 Nobel Prize winners in science, including many recent ones.”

He stated that the UK is ranked third in the Global Innovation Index and that although it possesses only one percent of the world’s population it produces six percent of research and 12 percent of academic citations worldwide.

Andy Brown (pictured below), XJTLU’s vice president for academic affairs whose background is in architecture, gave an introductory speech showcasing XJTLU’s new South Campus and the new IBSS building in particular as an example of utilising digital technology in architectural planning.

Wayne Johnson, automation manager for OAL, a company providing process and automation solutions to the food industry, gave a presentation illustrating his company’s innovations including steam infusion technology and robotic chefs.

Josh Cowburn of Cadscan talked about his company’s products, including a desktop 3D scanner, a low-cost dental scanner, and a portable body scanner for fitting clothing that is still in development.

“We’re looking for partners in China including but not limited to electronics suppliers,” he said.

Nicola Hearbertson, founder and CEO of Hao2.eu 3DNovations Ltd, talked about her company’s development of 3D cloud technologies to improve the lives and employability of people with autism.

“Our technologies allow people with autism to access vocational training and employment” she explained.

“Austism is a spectrum condition that affects people differently. People with autism can have particular strengths with regard to attention to detail, sensory perception, as Dr Temple Grandin pointed out in her TED talk,” said Nicola.

Employers seeking people on the autistic spectrum range from technology giants Hewlett Packard, Microsoft and Google, who are seeking software testers, to pig farms in Australia offering animal care positions.

“The challenge is to remove the barriers that individuals with autism face so that they are able to use those talents,” said Nicola. “We’ve been working with a small Shanghai-based NGO interested in the use of 3D virtual reality for people with autism in China.”

Nicola's company was shortlisted for the European Foundations Award for Responsible Research and Innovation for its work empowering employees with complex needs.


A plaque was unveiled by Andy Brown, Gareth Taylor and Jianru Guan, VP of the Association of Science and Technology, Suzhou Industrial Park, for a new base in SIP for developing entrepreneurial talent, which will be located at XJTLU.

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