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Themes: Assistive & Accessible Technology

Launch of TIDAL Accelerator to Support Early Career Researchers in Commercialising Innovative Technologies

The TIDAL Accelerator, a pioneering initiative aimed at propelling early career researchers towards commercial success, is set to launch on May 1st, 2024. This program will support four promising innovators in turning their research outputs into commercially viable solutions, marking a significant leap forward in bridging the gap between academia and industry.

TIDAL - Transformative Innovation in the Delivery of Assisted Living Products and Services - is a collaboration between UCL, Strathclyde, Salford and Loughborough Universities, funded by EPSRC and led by Prof Cathy Holloway, Academic Director of UCL’s Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub).

Supported projects

One of the flagship projects to be supported by the TIDAL Accelerator is a photonic sensor that uses light to detect and measure various physical factors, ranging from movement and temperature to pressure or even chemical composition. These photonic systems hold promise for enhancing our understanding of muscle biochemistry, physiology and pathology. There is huge potential in the adaption of prosthetics and assistive technologies, however a significant challenge remains in creating a low-cost, easily accessible, wearable sensors.

Dr. Matthew Dyson and his team at Newcastle University, have developed and prototyped a device for muscle activity harnessing readily available, low-cost components to create a non-invasive, compact device – that functions reliability in warmer climates.

The next critical phase involves extensive testing beyond the laboratory to explore uncertainties including the impact of external light and other sources of noise in real-world environments. Once successful testing is complete a shift towards planning for mass production will begin, as supply chain dynamics and streamline production processes are explored.

The TIDAL Accelerator will also support innovations such as a multi-modal hearing aid system, an augmented reality system enhancing diagnostic procedures in dental care, and reconfigurable intelligent surfaces (RIS) which can enable more energy-efficient communications, and enhance wireless connectivity and signal coverage in rural areas to facilitate access to essential services like virtual clinics.

Each project addresses critical challenges in its respective domain, demonstrating the diverse potential of assistive technologies to drive positive societal impact.

"The launch of the TIDAL Accelerator represents a significant milestone in our mission to foster innovation and entrepreneurship among early career researchers," says Prof Cathy Holloway, Academic Director at GDI Hub.

By providing strategic support, mentorship, and access to resources, we aim to empower these innovators to transform their research into tangible solutions that address real-world challenges and create lasting value.

Prof Cathy Holloway, Academic Director at GDI Hub

Programme structure

The next steps for each project involve conducting extensive research, pilot projects, and real-world demonstrations to validate their commercial potential and accelerate their journey towards market readiness. Through collaboration with industry partners, regulatory bodies, and end-users, the innovators aim to navigate the complexities of commercialisation to increase the likelihood of bringing their technologies to market successfully.

"The TIDAL Accelerator is not just about funding; it's about providing comprehensive support to early career researchers at every stage of their entrepreneurial journey," explains Ben Hardman, Head of Innovation Ecosystems at GDI Hub. "Through a blend of technical mentorship, individual coaching, and peer support sessions, we aim to equip innovators with the tools, knowledge, and networks they need to succeed in commercializing their innovations."

Group sessions will offer a diverse list of activities tailored to the needs of the participating innovators - from retrospective discussions on assumption validation to thematic presentations on business modeling, IP protection, and pitching for investment.

"The group sessions are designed to provide a holistic learning experience, combining theoretical insights with practical exercises and peer feedback," says Daniel, lead facilitator of the TIDAL Accelerator.

"By fostering a collaborative environment where innovators can learn from each other's experiences and perspectives, we aim to accelerate their progress towards commercial success

Daniel Hajas, lead facilitator of the TIDAL Accelerator

In addition to the group sessions, participants will benefit from one-to-one check-ins, individual innovation coaching, and access to a virtual venture studio for collaborative work and resource sharing. Furthermore, the accelerator will offer opportunities for networking, mentorship, and showcasing innovations to potential collaborators, entrepreneurship support organisations, and industry partners.

"The TIDAL Accelerator represents a unique opportunity for early career researchers to take their innovations to the next level," says Simon, an aspiring innovator selected to participate in the program. "I am excited to engage with fellow innovators, learn from experienced mentors, and leverage the resources and support provided by the accelerator to commercialize my innovation."

The TIDAL project was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council [grant number: EP/W00717/1 ] through TIDAL Network Plus - Transformative Innovation in the Delivery of Assisted Living Products and Services.

For more information about the TIDAL Accelerator and its supported projects, please visit the TIDAL website or contact Daniel, at