Hillingdon Council targeted £2.15m of Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) funding to a small number of Hillingdon based businesses through the Hillingdon Enterprise Fund to support the long-term benefits of jobs and business growth. The Hillingdon Enterprise fund, which was project managed by West London Business, targeted the following sectors: green economy, innovation, aviation/supply chains, creative/media and high growth. The initiative has contributed towards the development of the London West Innovation District.
The following innovative projects, demonstrating an economic and/or employment benefit for Hillingdon were successful in receiving the grant:
AI Drivers is building on their vast experience of deploying autonomous vehicles in a variety of environments, by offering innovative, cost effective and sustainable solutions to industrial and customer needs. In this project AI Drivers will provide complete independence to passengers with mobility restrictions by developing a fully autonomous, electric wheelchair, thus affording mobility-restricted passengers the same freedom and accessibility that other airport passengers enjoy. As part of their project progress, they have their Autonomous Intelligent Retrofitting System (AIRS), for platform design of their autonomous electric wheelchair. An autonomous intelligent operating system (AIOS) to ensure the efficiency of the software components needed to operate their sensors. They are currently in touch with Heathrow Operations to obtain access to the airport for the operation domain for their project. Their autonomous wheelchair product is being incorporated in one of the company services of autonomous mobility solutions, with their initial focus on airport and supplied autonomous mobility as a service.
Armaros was founded by equestrian, fashion designer and innovator Esmeralda Bright who has brought together a team of 300 equestrians, sport scientist, physio therapists and engineers. With 15 years of experience in soft body armour, Managing Director Andy Gregory and Esmeralda are breaking the trend of restrictive body protection. Armaros is creating a new golden standard for equestrian body protectors by developing a novel protective mesh material, to protect the spine and torso from hyper extending and dissipating impact while allowing a natural range of movement. The carefully designed mesh material comprises of naturally strong geometric shapes connected with a defined structure that allows and prevents movement as determined for the use case. They have fully patented the Armaros flexible spine protection mesh and have trademarked the Armaros brand and logo in the UK, with EU and USA/Canada trademarks pending. They have scoped their supply chain with garment manufacturer, shock absorption foam and injection mould suppliers.
MARS Academy Hillingdon is a job creation project that intends to train the next generation of Virtual Production Specialists with a specialism in Sustainability and employment-ready Virtual Production skills to support this high growth and highly innovative field for the film industry. MARS Academy will be the culmination of Bild Studios’ extensive and highly specific industry experience, leveraged their unique vantage point to see the industry skills gap, and a real need to attain the sustainable future potential that Virtual Production brings the film industry. It is these elements that woven together form the innovation of the project – producing world-leading training to develop Virtual Production Specialists, right here in Hillingdon. They had moved well ahead of schedule by creating 42 Virtual Production Professional by late 2022. They have also embarked on a zero carbon approach (in keeping with West London Business’s Better Futures + programme) and seeks to develop a sustainability tool, building on top of their Albert BAFTA framework. They have delivered Summer School Programmes, for film professionals, group students and school leavers, and has initiated several additional activities like Student Career Open days at MARS Volume, and MARS Academy Alumni Employment Event.
Bubbles is a Bubble tea and bubble waffle café, catering for the local community, providing all ages a safe space and healthy food and drink. The focus will be on healthy products served in sustainable, eco-friendly packaging encouraging customers to embrace a ‘greener lifestyle’. They launched bubble teas in September, with 5 employees and quickly established themselves as an integral part of the local community with regular customers of all ages finding their space with them. They have sucessfuly reduced the sugar levels of their drinks served and has spread awareness among their customers on how to enjoy drinks in a healthier and eco-friendly way. Bubbles also used bamboo products instead of plastic wherever possible in a cost-effective way. They also ensure that all their furniture and fittings in the cafe are made from sustainable materials. The chairs are made from plastic fished out of the ocean and the floor tiles are recycled materials. Every single chair is made from recycled plastic equivalent to 175 bottles. All their packaging is recyclable and they are currently working on plans to bring in reusable cups and straws.
The Central Research Laboratory supports tomorrow’s pioneers to meet the challenges of our time. We know that innovation is born out of collaboration and CRL facilitates powerful connections between industry, startups and academia to speed up the development and adoption of new ground-breaking products and services. As part of this project, CRL created ‘Innovation Collaboration Toolkit’ taking our learnings and those of our network and turning them into a powerful guide for both startups and corporates to use and to form better partnerships and deliver more impact through collaborative innovation. For the same, the project team has been conducting in depth market and customer research, exploring the challenge areas for different stakeholders associated with innovation collaboration and open innovation projects to identify existing tools and resources to include/ signpost or reference in their toolkit.
Cryogenx are developing technology to help people live on a warmer planet. Our first product is a revolutionary new portable body cooling device for heat stress. Globally, 495,000 people die from heat stress every year, with many of these deaths attributed to climate change. In the UK alone, Public Health England projects a 257% increase in heat-related deaths by 2050. This is an inescapably growing issue that demands a rapid, tech led solution. Our technology overcomes the critical barriers of current treatment methods, and provides a lightweight, compact and portable treatment option, able to be used in any scenario.
Enayball is an electronic tool that enables anyone with a physical disability, including people with severe paralysis, to independently write and draw. 1.5 million people in the UK have limiting dexterity issues which impact their ability to use art equipment and over half of these people are wheelchair users. Access to art and the creative industries is underrepresented within disability groups. Enayball can be attached to a person’s wheelchair, drawing on the floor as the person moves the wheelchair, and it can also be used on a tabletop by hand, supporting people with dexterity issues. Enayball wants to become an industry leader in designing accessible products that enables people with disabilities greater freedom, creativity and independence.
Freeaim is dedicated to creating new immersive technologies to solve some of the biggest challenges that remain with virtual reality (VR). They are currently focused on creating a natural feeling, affordable, safe, and compact wearable technology to enable walking in VR. There have been other attempts to solve this with bulky and expensive products that have not been well received, and no one else has created a product suitable for the mass market. Freeaim intends to change this with their omni-directional VR smart-shoes which are more like mini-Teslas for feet, but look like shoes and feel like a gym treadmill.
Haes Tech is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of fire alarm system control equipment. Established in 1973, Haes remains a family run business and all our products are manufactured here in the UK in their purpose designed facility near London’s Heathrow Airport. Today, their renowned range of products are used to protect buildings and vessels internationally too. They are developing a comprehensive communication solution to allow fire alarm panels to communicate with each other and with third-party services through wired and wireless connections. The communication solution will provide high reliability and low latency and be fail-safe.
hangAIR is the world’s-first, forward incliner that is scientifically designed for optimal and time-effective rest and recuperation to help people breathe, sleep and reset anywhere, anytime. hangAIR is using a multitude of techniques and technologies including custom hardware, users existing wearable tech, big-data and AI to create new methods for prevention, treatment and recovery from burnout, and aim to develop the world’s-first Smart Rocking Incliner (prone position), designed specifically to enhance and provide guided breathing, relieve back pain, improve sleep and memory consolidation, and reduce stress and anxiety. The incliner, integrated with sensory technology and their wellness app, creates a health and wellness ecosystem able to help millions of people efficiently.
HecoAnalytics provides market access support to health tech companies, enabled by the application of the latest computing technologies, to demonstrate the value proposition of new healthcare interventions to commissioners and payers such as the NHS. It brings together state of the art health evidence modelling, health economics, real time data collection and Artificial Intelligence (AI) into a new data science platform that sits alongside tools such as The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) META tool. This project will use novel AI techniques to better target medical technology interventions and learn from previous deployments. Their two project milestones have passed with succesful outcomes: The first, the Trello system involves the delivery of a project tracking environment, and was set up to manage the different project streams using an agile story-based approach. The second milestone resulted in two data preparation software products – HecoNect alongside Heconsult. The first provides a data-feed from client companies (including data standardisation). They second allow additional manual data workflows that sit
alongside HecoNect. The AI/Machine Learning work has been designed and software development has started.
J S Agriculture Limited (JSA), a National Landscape and Agricultural Contractor, based just 3 miles North of Heathrow Airport, have been carrying out landscape maintenance for over thirty years. J S Agriculture is one of the few specialist contractors operating agricultural and landscape machinery ‘airside’ in the UK. In line with Hillingdon’s and JSA’s own Sustainability agenda, JSA is in the process of changing all their machinery wherever possible away from fossil fuel to electric whilst at the same time looking to increase their potential to deliver additional specialist wildflower area seeding across the Borough, putting Hillingdon and neighbouring West London Councils at the forefront of delivering a sustainable and ecological approach.
Lady Electric is a female-led electrician service based in Hillingdon specializing in green technologies. This projects aims to expand the team of electricians so that more green initiatives (e.g. Electric Vehicle charging points and solar PV) can be delivered throughout the borough. The company plans to recruit female apprentices and staff where possible, to provide an entry point to the building trade for a more diverse audience. The company also seeks to promote a greener way of living through the use of smarter green technologies within residential and commercial properties, and they specialize in Electric Vehicle charging point installations aiming to encourage more people to install these at their properties and businesses.
Mediterranean Foods is a family run business established for 25 years, specialising in the manufacture of dips and snacks into the B2B sector, whose range is supplied as ingredient in bulk non branded format to the sandwich ready meals manufacturers & airline caterers. This project will be tailored towards developing a retail range that is plant-based, natural with added health benefits and reduced environmental impact. It will be targeted towards the consumer rather than B2B. Mediterranean Foods are one of few food manufacturers producing solely plant-based foods with no risks of cross contamination from dairy or meat, and believe that these USP’s will make their retail brand hugely successful. Their products were supplied to retail manufacturers for sandwiches, ready meals and pizza manufacturers, food services including restaurant chains and wholesale distributors like National food service distributors.
Manual labour for vegetable harvesting has become the greatest current challenge for English growers, with the desperate shortage due to Covid-19, Brexit and an overall decreasing willingness to carry out hard physical field labour. Their new category of field Muddy Machines Ltd was founded to address this issue by building robots that automate manual field work sustainably. A major English courgette grower, Barfoots of Botley, have requested MM turn their robotics skills to test the feasibility harvesting courgettes. This collaborative project will test the feasibility of completely novel grippers, computer vision and software for the complex harvesting of courgettes on MM’s field-robust robot. They are also dedicated in the research to identify novel techniques and tools to innovate and ensure efficient farming, and uses 3D cameras combined with deep learning and a host of other sensors and algorithms to ensure best performance of their robots.
Otermans Institute, an innovation in education SME, have created a cross-border training system for soft skills and professional development that is functional in 10+ countries, and have created multiple conversational AI teachers to further scale their training delivery and outreach. Their mission was born in the post-pandemic crisis, when they decided to give some of their training out for free to people around the world, so they can make most of their work under ‘lockdown’ and become better trained and more informed. This will democratise their training and give everyone a one-to-one AI teacher in their pocket. They are now creating an AI-powered avatar which will translate spoken work/audio (live/recorded lessons, speeches, social media) into sign-language in real-time to open up digital content, particularly online learning content, for sign speakers. Through the Hillingdon Enterprise Fund, they hope to launch this Sign AI at production level for mainstream sign and hearing-impaired users with a focus on Hillingdon and London. They currently have a British sign translating avatar that can translate text, audio and video output.
Pet Instincts develop smart home devices which improve the mental health of pets and their owners. With the ambition to improve the quality of life of our beloved companions like dogs, who have been found to improve joy hormone levels in our brain by 300% through short bonding times. Their innovative approach applies an emerging technique within the pet wellness space knows as Enrichment, all in an effort to reduce the arisal of problematic behaviour such as anxiety which may devleop due to a combination of boredom, isolation and lack of activities while alone. Pet Instincts’ goal is to return the favour to our pets and ensure that their wellbeing is also maintained. Pet Instincts is developing a product system that allows pet owners to remotely care for their pet’s emotional happiness and safety at all times. Their technology and data enable dog owners to track, interact, adjust and learn from their dog’s home alone experience, setting Pet Instincts apart from the competition. Along with the creation of new jobs, they have developed their MVP prototype in-house at CRL and are in the process of securing new suppliers (both in the UK and internationally) to gauge their insights on their manufacturing and getting new quotes.
Plexus Systems are developing a unique virtual reality glove technology for online interaction with virtual worlds – the system allows people to use their hands freely to interact with virtual objects, in both virtual reality and augmented reality. Plexus Systems are targeting both consumer and enterprise use cases for VR and AR interaction technology. They have completed their first set of subsystems for the project including their new electronics system, the injection moulding tooling for the new version of the hardware and the new software API and have extended the scope of the software to reflect the changing commercial environment. They have completed their final testing and are ready to undergo ergonomic testing with the complete product. They are now moving on to assembling the demonstration system for the project and the design for the manufacture (WB 5 ) stage.
Radiant Matter is developing colour and material solutions for the circular textiles economy. The start-up developed the world’s first BioSequin, by transforming naturally abundant cellulose into a material that produces shimmering structural colours, used to create sequins and glitter. The cellulose displays nature’s brightest colours and unlike traditional sequins, Radiant Matter’s sequins shimmering iridescence is free from chemical colourants, metals and minerals, and are non-toxic and can be made biodegradable, hence developing textile solutions that are safe for the environment and for human health. The collaboration of BioSequins took over the landing page of LVMH for Stella McCartney featuring Clara Delevingne
Through human centric design and customer insights, Stix makes mindfulness fun for children by delivering mindful training in an engaging way and encouraging an ongoing practice with rewards. It teaches children mental wellbeing techniques through fun activities using Stix remotes. Made up of two handheld electronic devices and a supporting app, the Stix design allows for screen-free mindfulness practice, unlike other app-based mindfulness activities for children. Stix aims to ground its activities in research demonstrating the mental health benefits of mindfulness, and to build an empirical evidence-base for their efficacy in promoting mental health and wellbeing in children. They are also aiming to make their hardware available at more affordable prices so they can help more families, and working with Brunel University to establish an evidence base. They’ve also begun their testing in schools in Hillingdon.
Thinking Additive delivery diverse digital and physical experiences to consumers through direct partnerships with large and small companies. Their main focus is to bridge the gap between products, market trends and technological innovation, by supporting industries, companies and retailers in the development of dedicated products and propriety solutions on a demand basis. They are developing an integrated design and manufacturing digital tool able to generate an adequate orthotic solution/treatment matched with the users/patients data and needs after clinical prescription. The tool itself will be an open cloud-platform dynamically populated by the clinical experiences and practical protocols of the Orthotists. The platform will capitalise and rationalise clinical experiences to create a more standardised approach to make the treatments less operator dependent and more reliable.
West London Film Studios is an independently owned studio, soon to be one of the largest in London. They provide studio space and facilities for film and television production, along with commercials and stills photography. The studio is in the process of building a new state of the art facility as an expansion to its current site. As part of the upgrades, there will be a focus on sustainability, crew training and technically advancing the facilities at WLFS, moving with the ever-changing technologies the industry has to offer. With this in mind, West London Film Studios is looking to upgrade their offerings at the existing studio to ensure it can work in unison with the new studio expansion.