Professor Tom Brown from the Department of Chemistry and Professor Bill Roscoe from the Department of Computer Science have been given lifetime awards for external engagement and promoting impact.
Other MPLS Impact Award winners for 2015/16 are Professor Dermot O’Hare and Professor Kylie Vincent, both from the Department of Chemistry, who have been recognised for excellence in 'generating broad user interactions that achieved impact or are conducive to achieving impact'.
Professor Brown established and managed a centre for DNA synthesis in 1985, leading to the creation of ‘Oswel Research Products’ in 1990. This was the first UK supplier of high quality oligonucleotides analogues and DNA sequencing services. The relationship formed with the UK Forensic Science Service had a major impact on the National DNA database, a powerful tool in crime detection. Oswel was eventually sold to an International Biotech company, and in 2005 Professor Brown launched ATDBio to provide for the rapidly growing UK DNA Synthesis needs. He also co-founded Primer Design, which develops custom PCR assays. Primer Design and ATDBio both generate substantial annual profits and employ a large number of R&D scientists.
He said, 'There is a huge amount of world-leading activity in translation and commercialisation of research at Oxford University, so it is an honour to be chosen for such a prestigious award'.
Professor Roscoe has been recognised for his pioneering work applying formal verification tools in industry since the late 1980s, including the invention of the ‘FDR’ verification software tool. FDR has been used by many companies over the years, including IBM, DRA/QinetiQ, Praxis, Draper Labs, the NSA, AWRE, and Verum.
He said, 'It has been wonderful to see so many real-world users of what originally seemed like theoretical research. Furthermore, interaction with these users has been a regular source of inspiration for my research: a real virtuous circle!'
Professor O’Hare’s relationship with SCG chemicals has been extremely fruitful, bringing significant funds to the University and successfully translating his group’s innovations into industrial processes. He was the recipient of an EPSRC IAA ‘Sabbatical Enhancement’ secondment, which helped him achieve this translation.
He said, 'I am delighted to receive the MPLS Impact Award as it recognises the effective and long term collaboration that has been established between Oxford Chemistry and SCG in Thailand, through the creation of the Oxford-SCG Centre of Excellence in Chemistry'.
Professor Vincent’s ‘HydRegen’ technology offers the potential for widespread uptake of biocatalysis in fine chemical production, bringing with it several advantages over current processes, including enabling processes to take place in water, thus removing the need for polluting organic solvents to be used. Development of the technology is supported by a £2.9m EPSRC-Innovate UK project.
She said, ‘I’m delighted to receive this award, and happy that my ‘HydRegen’ technology project has been recognised. I have been working with many of the key industrial players who wish to take the technology forward once it is ready. This includes GSK, Johnson Matthey and Novozymes'.
The awards will formally be given to the winners by the Head of MPLS Professor Donal Bradley, at the Division's Winter Party on 29 February 2016.