2016 – Staff presentations

Kevin Hannam, The multiple Impacts of the Mobilities Paradigm

In this presentation I will give a brief overview of what has been called the mobilities paradigm or mobilities turn in the social sciences (Sheller and Urry, 2004; Hannam et al., 2006). I will focus then on some of the key impacts (academic and for planning and policy) in terms of wellbeing, the information society and sustainable communities, recognising that these are inter-related in terms of human mobilities. Firstly, I will briefly show that mobilities research has highlighted the impact of understanding diverse mobility systems in terms of enabling new practices of healthcare and wider practices of both physical and mental wellbeing. Secondly, I will show that mobilities research has led to policy impacts in terms of understanding the social aspects of mobile communication practices (particularly for travel and migration). Thirdly, I will reflect on the policy impact of work that has re-imagined sustainable communities from a mobilities perspective which has led to impacts in terms of understanding of different transport strategies.

Karl Warner, International entrepreneurship in the global medical technology sector: How to create social capital for rapid, sustained, and profitable growth

International entrepreneurship (IE) research examines how start-ups in knowledge-intensive industries such as the life sciences, computing, and engineering commercialise and grow international businesses. These young knowledge-intensive start-ups are often very small, resource constrained, and are poorly prepared to compete in fiercely competitive and uncertain markets. In the life sciences industry, research has found new ventures are often unprepared for internationalisation which often has a fatal impact on future growth. It is now widely reported that building entrepreneurial, scientific, and industry networks – i.e. social capital – is essential for commercialisation and international growth. However, it is still unclear how entrepreneurs successfully build networks, and how entrepreneurs successfully extract social capital from their networks to launch and grow an international business. Having won an Edinburgh Napier Early Career Researcher (ECR) grant, I in collaboration with Professor Marian Jones (University of Sheffield) have pursued this gap and conducted longitudinal multiple case study research in the global medical technology sector. The outcome of this qualitative research is we have identified four distinctive networking pathways that result in successful or unsuccessful attempts to create social capital needed for new venture international growth. The research implications of each networking pathway provide entrepreneurs and policy makers with a roadmap on how to build social capital in uncertain environments characterised by rapid technological and market-based change.

Augusto Esteves, People-to-Machine (P2M): User Experience in the Internet-of-Everything

Our everyday environments are populated with increasing numbers of devices that afford digital control. While these devices are diverse in form and functionality, there is a desire to provide users with uniform control across smart environments. User research in smart homes specifically highlighted a need for instant control, for users to adapt their environment on impulse. This talk will introduce several novel interaction techniques for such environments, including Orbits, a gaze-only input technique that enables immediate, hands-free interaction with smart devices and environments.

Patrick White, Can we sustainably intensify dairy farms?

Sustainable intensification of agriculture is required to meet increasing global consumption while protecting the environment and preserving biodiversity. Collaborating with Scotland’s Rural College and Kew Botanic Gardens, my research is looking at the potential for sustainable intensification of dairy farming, a major global food producer. My results suggest that by modifying composition of cropping, it may be possible to increase production while increasing biodiversity components of two key indicator groups: vascular plants and epigeal spiders.

Karen Diele and Anders J. Schmidt, From Science to Policy – or everything you always wanted to know about sex in a Brazilian mangrove crab

The large mangrove crab Ucides cordatus is a national delicacy in Brazil, sustaining the livelihoods of ten thousands of artisanal fishermen. During reproduction crab capture is prohibited during both full and new moon, to protect the animals when performing their conspicuous synchronized mass mating. However, the crabs only mate at one of the two moons, and it has been unforeseeable at which one. Since one of the two precautionary bans per month is usually wrong, this has been driving conflict and law incompliance. Our network initiative REMAR is collecting research data over several years to develop a tool allowing us to correctly predict the particular moon phase of the mass mating. If robust, this tool can help to improve policy, reduce national fishery monitoring costs by 50% and secure the income of the coastal poor. This year we hope to obtain additional data from the public through the development and implementation of a “citizen science” smartphone application.

Dan Ridley-Ellis,  Seeing the trees for the wood

The Centre for Wood Science and Technology is interested in the physical and mechanical properties of wood and how these affect its performance in different applications.  Through our research and technology development we support the forest and timber industries to get the most from the forest resource.  Our aim is to avoiding wastage of energy and value from the nursery to the end user, and to help wood products meet the technical performances required by specifiers.  This helps ensure the future of economically, environmentally and socially sustainable forestry, providing incentive for afforestation and an ongoing supply of renewable material for construction and manufacturing.

Lourdes Alwis, Optical Fibre Sensors for Civil, Chemical and Biomedical Applications

Optical fibre technology offers several advantages over conventional electrical systems such as immunity to electromagnetic interference, small size, light weight and high data capacity. Following the Telecommunications boom in the 1990s, optical fibre technology is now vastly utilized for sensing within the fields of civil, chemical and biomedical engineering. The short talk will introduce the optical fibre sensor technology and its state-of-the-art applications.

Gemma Webster, Connecting Community Heritage through Linked Data

The CURIOS project explores how digital archives for rural community heritage groups can be made more sustainable so that volunteer members can maintain a lasting digital presence. It developed software tools to help remote rural communities to collaboratively maintain and present information about their cultural heritage. The objective was to investigate the use of semantic web/ linked data technology to build a general, flexible and “future proof” software platform that could help such projects to develop digital archives and to be sustainable over time. As an interdisciplinary project we aimed to synthesise a narrative that draws from both social science and computer science perspectives by critically reflecting upon the novel approach taken and the results that were produced.

Malcolm Innes, The 12 Closes Project – creative solutions and community co-design for historic urban nightscapes

The 12 Closes Project, initiated by Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, is an ambitious 4 year project worth over £720,000 to transform a series of historic Closes off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. The project will use creative lighting, projection and artwork to perform a night time rehabilitation of some of the most run down spaces in the World Heritage Site. Employing a process of community co-design, the 12 Closes revitalisation will be create with the residents and businesses that travel these pedestrian spaces every day. Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage said: “Our aim is for this project to re-connect the people of Edinburgh with the closes of the Old Town. The intricate network of closes and courtyards that bind the Old Town together gives it a unique identity, is underused but has the opportunity to be revitalised, used and celebrated by all.” Councillor Ian Perry, Planning Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The improvements to the closes are a major part of the Royal Mile Action Plan, and help to highlight these unique parts of the city’s history to visitors, who not have realised that they are there to visit.”

Paul Holmes, Outside the box

Paul Holmes presents his latest video artwork, “Outside the Box”, which has shown at exhibitions in the UK, India and Japan.  Paul will speak about the aesthetic methodology behind the piece.  As with all Paul’s work, this involves the exploration of non-narrative techniques in time-based art.

Outside the box

Bill Buchanan, Examples of Creating Impact within Innovation and Research

This presentation aims to outline the development of a range of projects which have shown tangible impacts for societal, technical and economic benefits, including the evolution of research work into spin-outs. It will show the development of the research and innovation, and the funding involved, along with the challenges on the way, and define some key points that are required in order to maximize the impact of work, including developing strong partnerships with external organisations. As a core focus the presentation will look at Zonefox, Symphonic Trust and Cyan Forensics for the development of research work into a spin-out companies, and how they have developed after spin-out. Along with this the presentation will look at successful external collaborations which have show impact in terms of developing Intellectual Property for innovation, and which leads to further commercialisation. Overall the presentation aims to show that there are many different ways to add value to research and innovation, for the benefit for all involved.