10th anniversary of the BEEAs: A decade of excellence - 2010

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:

The British Engineering Excellence Awards were launched in 2009 to champion and celebrate design innovation and excellence. Since then, the BEEAs has grown in stature, with ever more entries seeking to win this foremost engineering accolade for design.

The BEEAs has been highlighting the breadth and depth of the UK’s design engineering community and how it is competing on a global stage for the last 10 years. Winners of the Grand Prix, the best-of-the-best of each year, have ranged from individual engineers doing outstanding work both in their industries and communities, to small companies with staff numbers in the single-digits, to larger OEMs.

Each year, hundreds of entries are debated and analysed by a judging panel of industry experts, which includes the winners of the previous year’s Grand Prix and Design Engineer of the Year Awards.

RS Components has been a sponsor of the event since 2009. Mike Bray, VP of DesignSpark said: “Celebrating excellence in engineering is crucial in the quest to educate and inspire aspiring engineers. The BEEAs play an important part in this, and as passionate ambassadors for innovation and excellence in engineering, we are proud to be supporting the Young Design Engineer category each year. The objective of the BEEAs is closely aligned with our own ethos to promote STEM uptake and champion innovation, and to secure the future of engineering in the UK.”

In retrospect

This is the second in a series of features looking back at the past winners of these awards and seeing how winning has affected them and their business.

The second British Engineering Excellence Awards ceremony took place at a gala luncheon on 14 October 2010 at London’s Globe Theatre.

Where are they now?

JAOtech, won Start Up of the Year for its range of embedded smart terminals intended for use at the bedsides of hospital patients. Its products were shipped to hospitals and clinics around the world, thanks to the acquisition of a US company, to deliver multimedia entertainment to patients.

Its sales were boosted in 2010 by signing a contract with Hospedia, a UK-based provider of similar systems, the two companies went on to install more than 15,000 units in two years.

Formed in August 2006, JAOtech grew to a 35-strong company with a turnover of more than £6million by the time it won the Award in 2010. Since then, the company was acquired in 2011 by Barco, a global technology business that develops networked visualisation solutions for the entertainment, enterprise and healthcare markets.

Andrew Burrows, the founder of i2O, won the Design Engineer of the Year and Grand Prix in 2010 after designing an intelligent valve, controlled by a central server, to limit the pressure in water delivery pipes to reduce leakage.

This was, and continues to be, a huge global problem: Despite being collected, filtered and chlorinated, then distributed via high-pressure mains, 25% of water is lost before it reaches the consumer.

Through algorithms, the valves learn the behaviour of the network and constantly adjust the pressure accordingly, reducing leakage by more than 20%. Fifty of the systems were installed in Malaysia in 2010, each saving 250 tonnes of water a day.

The sensors and valves are located underground with no external power and must operate for five years without service making many adjustments per day to an infrastructure with an average age of 50 years. Burrows was completely responsible for the system’s design, which involved mechanical, electronic, electrical and software engineering.

“The awards came at a time where we were transitioning from an R&D start up, developing and proving the technologies with a handful of UK customers,” Burrows explains. “Winning the awards was helpful because it gave us greater visibility and endorsement that the technology really is innovative, and we used it to highlight it to the market both in the UK and overseas.”

Burrows formed i2O with Adam Kingdon in 2005, since then the company has installed more than 100 utilities in over 35 countries and has opened offices in Malaysia, Columbia and Dubai. Burrows left the company in December 2015 – though he continued to provide support in technology strategy to i2O until recently. During this process he found himself working on other projects as a consultant and eventually set up AeroHydro Consulting, which specialises in solutions for medium-sized international businesses to their utilities-based technology challenges as well as developing innovative algorithmic technologies for making light aircraft safer to fly for less experienced pilots.

Burrows says that applying for the BEEAs is a no-brainer: “It’s a good idea not only for the individual – if it’s an individual who’s being nominated – because it gives them recognition of their skills and capability which is a valuable thing. It still sits on my CV as something I’m proud of having achieved. But also, it’s good for the business; and businesses of all stages would benefit from having some endorsement of the innovations that their teams are developing. It’s a very valuable process to go through.”

We will be covering the 2011 Awards in the March issue. Entries for the ‘10th anniversary’ awards will open in the spring, so why not visit www.beeas.co.uk to pick up some top tips on entering your submissions.

2010 winners

Grand Prix
Sponsored by: Electronics Leadership Council
Winner: Andrew Burrows

Judges’ Special Award
Sponsored by: Bloodhound SSC
Winner: Dexela

Consultancy Of The Year
Sponsored by: Prototype Projects
Winner: Drive System Design

Small Company Of The Year
Sponsored by: Technology Strategy Board
Winner: OC Robotics
Highly commended: Dexela

Green Product Of The Year
Sponsored by: National Instruments
Winner: Dunphy Combustion

Start Up Of The Year
Sponsored by: Cambridge Consultants
Winner: Jaotech
Highly commended: Yasa motors

New Electronic Product Of The Year
Sponsored by: Digi-Key
Winner: Atmel

New Mechanical Product Of The Year
Sponsored by: Weg Electric Motors
Winner: JRI

Young Design Engineer Of The Year
Sponsored by: RS Components
Winner: Mairead Kelly, Dialog

Design engineer of the year
Sponsored by: Element 14
Winner: Andrew Burrows, i20


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