Innovation at Loughborough

by Anna Seddon   


Loughborough University is one of only four universities to have been awarded three prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prizes since their launch in 1993:  Working in Partnership with the Aeronautical & Automotive Industries (1994), Development & Water Engineering in Developing Countries (1998) and Pioneering Research in Applications in Optical Engineering & Laser Technologies (2000). 


The University has a long tradition of working innovatively with industry and has recently invested significantly in increasing the number, depth and value of these partnerships to stimulate an entrepreneurial climate on campus. 

Loughborough University Enterprises Ltd (LUEL) combines the expertise of the University's Intellectual Property and Consultancy teams and has a proven track record in commercialising the University's research through licensing and the formation of spinout companies. 

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We have recently invested considerably in student enterprise.  Responding to a rise in popularity of small business modules for students, the University now hosts a networking club with a regular programme of practical workshops led by entrepreneurs in the region.  Its first dedicated student enterprise manager was appointed earlier this year.

The University's first student spinout, Ellula Sounds, has created the world's first inflatable speaker system with an exclusive licence and patent with NXT, and operates from the UK and America.  Its recent licensing deal with Budweiser is estimated at $5M, with further retail merchandising and promotional products are being negotiated for Budweiser's 500,000 outlets across the world. 


Now in its seventh year, Laser Optical Engineering has established an international client base for its manufacturing and consultancy in laser safety, high power laser processing and metrology.  Clients include national laboratories, military organisations, vehicle manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies and its turnover is expected to exceed 1M this year.

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Other  spinouts and emerging technologies featuring student innovation include Progressive Sports Technologies.  Already a DTI SMART award winner, the company has a growing portfolio of filed patent applications for novel sports and fitness products and is well networked with global fitness brands.  It has developed from the impressive research portfolio of Loughborough Sports Technology Research Group.  The Group has generated 2.9M from research in last 5 years and currently collaborates with global sports brands including Adidas Puma, Calloway, Head and Speedo.

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Under the brand name Cool Acoustics, design and technology researchers are developing an all-polymer acoustic guitar with the support of a NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) innovation award.  The patented foamed polymer technology has attracted great interest from world-leading guitar brands who wish to test out the new technology in their own products.

Loughborough is fast becoming a hot bed for medical innovation.  Successes this year include the development with the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust of the first-ever non-invasive device to measure the level of oxygen saturation in the veins.  Already in clinical evaluation for cardiac surgery, Venox was awarded Best Medical Innovation at this year's Medical Futures Innovation Awards.  The pulse oximetry market is currently worth in excess of $1billion per annum, a system incorporating the Venox technology has the potential to supersede existing products in this sector and a number of major medical companies with the resources to penetrate discrete market segments are being sought. 

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One of East Midlands' largest incubation centres for high growth start up companies has just opened for business on Loughborough's campus.  Loughborough Innovation Centre ( has 40,000 ft2 of office and workshop space for up to 40 fledgling companies, providing comprehensive mentoring and flexible, affordable space for start-ups in a supportive environment where they can easily access expertise and network with similar companies. 

The Centre's first resident, Intelligent Energy, evolved from an original Loughborough spinout.  The company is the UK's leading commercial developer of Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology and one of the few developers of this technology in Europe.

Loughborough University Enterprises Ltd
FREEPHONE 0800 0360505



[This is an interesting aspect of nurturing potential and, who knows, it might point one of our readers (you?) in the direction of funding and support! - Editor]