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10 June, 2019 - 12:23 By Tony Quested

Cambridge tech sector bids for unprecedented MacRobert Award hat trick

Cyber security world leader Darktrace is bidding to secure a unique hat-trick of successes for the Cambridge technology cluster in the UK’s leading engineering innovation accolade – the MacRobert Award. 

Owlstone Medical won last year and Raspberry Pi the year before. 

Cambridge has a history of success in the Royal Academy of Engineering competition over the last decade. 

Microsoft Research won the MacRobert Award in 2011, RealVNC followed suit in 2013 and there have been Cambridge-based finalists in seven of the last 11 years.

Darktrace was runner up to Raspberry Pi in 2018 so bids to go one better this time round, albeit against incredibly strong competition in what is the Royal Academy’s 50th anniversary year.

Darktrace is up against Bombardier (Belfast) for developing an innovative, resin-infused advanced composite wing that minimises the aircraft’s environmental impact by reducing both weight and fuel burn in flight, and waste during manufacture; M Squared (Glasgow), whose SolsTiS Titanium:Sapphire laser produces the world's purest light and can be tuned across the spectrum; and OrganOx (Oxford) for creating the metra, a world-first device that can keep a human donor liver functioning outside the body for up to 24 hours prior to transplant.

The winner will be announced at the Royal Academy of Engineering Awards dinner at London’s Banqueting House on Thursday July 11. The winning team will receive the signature MacRobert Award gold medal and a £50,000 cash prize.

Owlstone MacRobert Award
Last year’s MacRobert Award winner Owlstone Medical

Over the last 50 years, MacRobert Award winning innovations have changed the world, delivering enormous economic and societal benefit and contributing to the UK’s standing as the world’s eighth largest manufacturing economy.

The first award in 1969 was made jointly for two iconic innovations: to Rolls-Royce for the Pegasus engine used in the Harrier jump jet and to Freeman, Fox and Partners for the Severn Bridge.

Dr Dame Sue Ion, chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award judging panel, said: ”As the MacRobert Award marks its half century, we are excited for the future. Great British engineering innovations, such as those recognised today, benefit not just the UK, but transform lives around the world.

“This year's finalists – Bombardier, Darktrace, M Squared and OrganOx, have already proven their potential to shape a greater tomorrow for us all, and they join an illustrious line up of past winners, from the CT scanner to Raspberry Pi. 

“Our four 2019 finalists represent the pinnacle of an engineering sector that contributes 23 per cent of the UK’s economic turnover, creating jobs and enhancing lives both here in the UK and around the world.”

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