Robotics start-up Automata has been named the winner of the Grand Prix at the 2019 British Engineering Excellence Awards (BEEAs), held at The Landmark, London.
Automata is on a mission to democratise robotics. Founded in 2014 by architects Mostafa ElSayed and Suryansh Chandra, the company was born out of the need to find a cost-effective approach to industrial automation when the only options available were prohibitively expensive industrial robots, or basic robot arms sold on Amazon that are little more than toys.
The work of Automata could change all that. The company’s Eva robot is an affordable and easy-to-use, while also being fit-for-purpose in an industrial context.
Having launched commercially in March 2019, the company has now surpassed 150+ orders, with many happy customers with successful deployments who are now making repeat multi-unit orders.
This was the 10th anniversary of the BEEAs, in honour of which, a Design Engineer of the Decade category was awarded. This saw every previous winner of Design Engineer of the Year pitted against one another to decide on ‘the best of the best’. The winner of this prestigious prize was Sebastien Cuvelier Mussalian, who won in 2013 for his work as lead engineer on the OrganOx perfusion system, which keeps donor human livers ‘alive’ before being transplanted.
Since then, Sebastien has gone on to build an international reputation for the design, development and industrialisation of innovative, robust medical devices. The judges were keen to recognise his contribution to the industry; his ability to handle complex, multidisciplinary projects; and the truly global impact of his work.
Luke Webster, publishing director of awards organiser MA Business, said: “A decade on from its beginnings, this year’s British Engineering Excellence Awards winners are evidence that British engineering is still producing superb companies, products, projects and people. Through every category, the judges were deeply impressed by the quality of engineering put forward and the talent behind it. I congratulate all those entrants that were shortlisted and of course the winners.”
British Engineering Excellence Award winners 2019:
New Product of the Year (Electronic): Quanta Dialysis Technologies – SC+
Sponsor: New Electronics magazine
In assessing entries, the Judges looked for an electronic product or component that addresses a particular market need and which brings a significant performance improvement; either over a previous product or over competitive devices. Developed by Quanta Dialysis Technologies, SC+ is a small, simple and powerful haemodialysis system designed to provide greater flexibility around where, when and how patients manage and receive their dialysis therapy.
Engineering Ambassador of the Year: Laura Giddings, RS Components
Sponsor: Eureka! Magazine
In this category, the Judges were looking for companies or individuals who are engaging on a regular basis with a local school or educational establishment to promote engineering. An inspiring ambassador for engineering, in her role as education events manager for RS Components, Laura Giddings has achieved tangible results in improving perceptions around engineering, inspiring young people to pursue it as a career and helping educators with valuable and dynamic resources to bring STEM subjects to life in the classroom. Her passion has played a significant part in encouraging further STEM Ambassadors within RS, which she has increased from just 40 at the beginning of 2018 to 150 by the end of that year.
Small Company of the Year: Innovative Physics
Sponsor: Analog Devices
To succeed in this category, the judges were looking for a company with a sound business plan, a product or service that meets a market need and the successful reception of that product. They also wanted to see evidence of either competing successfully with much larger rivals or exploiting a viable market niche. Operating in the nuclear, medical, and homeland security industries, Innovative Physics evolves current technologies to provide novel solutions to radiological obstacles for the benefit of customers and society. The team, consisting of engineers, physicists and technicians devote themselves to the development of new approaches to radiological detection.
Highly Commended Small Company of the Year: Precision Acoustics
The Judges found it exceptionally difficult to decide the winner of this category and decided to award a Highly Commended certificate to Precision Acoustics, an innovative manufacturer of high-quality measurement products that despite its size, has a truly global reach.
Start-Up of the Year: Automata
The Start-up of the Year category celebrates tomorrow’s companies and technological successes. The Judges were looking for a company developing mechanical and/or electronic products or offering engineering-based services to customers in the UK and elsewhere. With its mission to democratise robotics, Automata impressed the judges with its development and launch of the Eva robot, which combines ease-of-use and affordability with fitness for purpose in an industrial context.
Design Team of the Year: Earthsense & Bluefrog Design
Sponsor: LG Motion
In this category the Judges were looking for entrants demonstrating the successful use of teamwork in the creation of an engineering or electronic product or system. In assessing the entries, the Judges wanted to see how the team was composed and evidence of how its members interacted to meet its budget and project milestones. Working alongside air quality expert EarthSense's electronics engineers, Bluefrog Design developed the Zephyr®; a compact and robust air quality sensor. Packaging innovative electrochemical sensors and optical particle counters within a highly cost-effective product that is engineered to perform accurately across global climates and designed to measure pollution, temperature and humidity in the urban environment.
Materials Application of the Year: AIXal Brake Rod – Alvant
Sponsor: Goodfellow (Cambridge)
The choice of material can make or break an engineering product, so the Judges were looking for evidence of how the properties of a material (or material combination) were exploited to solve a design challenge. A two-year, £28m project, titled 'Large Landing Gear of the Future' has seen Aluminium Matrix Composites (AMC) manufacturer, Alvant, team up with high-technology group, Safran Landing Systems that could reduce landing gear weight by as much as 30%, assisting with the aerospace industry's drive to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
New Product of the Year (Mechanical): Bowman Power – ETC 1000
In this category the Judges were looking for an engineering product for which an innovative approach has been used to meet a particular market need. They wanted to see evidence of how the need for the product was assessed, along with an indication of time to market. In addition to the low cost of power creation it offers, the ETC 1000 genset from Bowman Power can achieve up to a 10% increase in total electrical power; a 23% reduction in greenhouse emissions; a 40% reduction in unburnt hydrocarbons; a 7% reduction in fuel consumption; and a 50% reduction in pre-heated engine load ramp time.
Highly Commended New Product of the Year (Mechanical): Russell Finex – AMPro Sieve Station
The Judges found it exceptionally difficult to decide the winner of this category and decided to award a Highly Commended certificate to the second-generation AMPro Sieve Station, which has been specifically designed to overcome the challenges associated with the recovery, requalification and re-use of of 3D printing powder.
Young Design Engineer of the Year: James Veale, GB Innomech
Sponsor: RS Components
The judges took a range of factors into account, including: the knowledge which has been applied by the young engineer; the contribution made to projects; and the degree of innovation required. They also considered the nominee’s personal qualities that promote the engineering profession. In less than two years since joining automation consultancy GB Innomech as a project engineer, James Veale has helped the company to develop its first product line which has been subsequently spun out in a separate company called GiroNEX.
Design Engineer of the Decade: Sebastien Cuvelier Mussalian
Entrants in this category were the previous winners of all the Design Engineer Of The Year Awards. Sebastien Cuvelier Mussalian was the winner, having won in 2013 for his work as lead engineer on the OrganOx perfusion system, which keeps donor human livers ‘alive’ before being transplanted. Since then, Sebastien has gone on to build an international reputation for the design, development and industrialisation of innovative, robust medical devices.
Consultancy of the Year: Drive System Design
Sponsor: MA Business
To identify the Consultancy of the Year, the Judges looked for evidence that the shortlisted companies are developing innovative and timely solutions to engineering problems posed to them by their customers. Other factors taken into account included the ratio of consultancy staff to the number of projects delivered, number of staff applied to those projects and their success. The Judges were also interested to see how the consultancy has developed during the last five years and how it plans to grow its business.
The tale of Drive System Design’s success can be told via its statistics. Since 2014, it has doubled its UK based employee headcount to 96 full-time employees and significantly grown its US office from four to more 30 employees. In addition, during 2019, the company identified significant opportunities in Asia, and is in the process of launching within this market, specifically in Korea where representation has already been established.
Highly Commended Consultancy of the Year: ByteSnap Design
Under the leadership of founders Dunstan Power and Graham Wintle, ByteSnap Design has doubled in headcount and achieved revenue growth of 147% over the last five years.
Grand Prix 2019
Photos of the awards ceremony and the winners are available on request from Monday 14th October.