Manufacturing Innovation Award winners Zayndu. Pictured from left to right: Sam Gee, Oliver Green, Julie Tomlinson, Alberto Campanaro, Mickey Clarke and Ralph Weir

Manufacturing Innovation Award winners Zayndu (from left): Sam Gee, Oliver Green, Julie Tomlinson, Alberto Campanaro, Mickey Clarke and Ralph Weir

Hat-trick of awards for University partners

Three companies with strong links to Loughborough University’s research and innovation portfolio have won top accolades at this year’s Insider Made in the Midlands Awards.

Millitec with Loughborough University – winners of the Food and Drink Manufacturing Innovation Award

Millitec with Loughborough University – winners of the Food and Drink Manufacturing Innovation Award

The Manufacturing Innovation Award went to Zayndu, a University spin-out founded by Dr Felipe Iza, while Intelligent Energy, headquartered at the University’s Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP), won the award for Digital Engineering / Technology. Millitec Food Systems - who partnered with Loughborough researchers to develop new AI technology - won the Food and Drink Award, making it a hat-trick on the night.

The Insider Made in the Midlands Awards celebrate the region’s world-class manufacturing sector. The 2023 Awards - which took place at the Macdonald Burlington Hotel in Birmingham on 4 May - recognise products, innovations and ideas over the past 12 months.

Zayndu, a spinout from Loughborough’s Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, launched in the University’s incubator LUinc., helps global growers increase agricultural yield by using unique cold plasma equipment that vitalises seeds, speeding up germination and encouraging growth.

Zayndu’s innovative ‘activated air’ sterilisation system allows seeds to grow stronger and between 15-25% bigger without the need for agrochemicals or pesticides. The subscription-based technology provides a timely and affordable solution for growers as many of the chemicals the industry relies on are becoming banned internationally.

Derbyshire-based Millitec Food Systems - a specialist in food production automation - partnered with AI specialists at Loughborough University to create a unique sandwich-making robot featuring the latest embedded artificial intelligence technology.

Professor Baihua Li, Professor of Computer Vision and Machine Learning, led a team of researchers to develop machine vision and embed artificial intelligence technology to teach AI robots how to differentiate between food items so they can make sandwiches in factory environments.

Intelligent Energy, a global leader in PEM fuel cell technology, was first launched as a Loughborough University spin-out during the 1980s. The company now has its headquarters and manufacturing base at LUSEP, with additional offices and representation in the US, Japan, South Korea and China.

Underpinned by automotive engineering and chemistry research, Intelligent Energy’s sustainable technology has been successfully deployed to power airborne and road vehicles, and has applications across the logistics, construction and communication sectors.

Plastic Energy - a world-leading chemical recycling company - which partners with Loughborough’s chemistry researchers was also shortlisted in the Manufacturing Innovation category for its work to transform the global landscape of plastic waste by converting previously difficult to recycle plastic into a recycled oil that replaces fossil oils in the production of new plastics.

Professor Dan Parsons, Pro Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation at Loughborough, commented: “I am delighted that our superb innovation ecosystem at Loughborough University has once again been recognised at The Made in Midlands Awards.

"These winners comprise a University spinout, a clean energy company originating from our research - both based on our rapidly growing Science and Enterprise Park next to our campus - and a manufacturer with whom we’ve established a product innovation track record. This success demonstrates the strength of impact we can have through effective partnerships and making progress with purpose.”

All three winning companies will now go through to the Made in the UK Manufacturing Awards which takes place on Thursday 29 June. The event - one of the largest national manufacturing Awards dinners - recognises and rewards the manufacturing heritage and capabilities within the UK.