Rewards for bright ideas
HAVE there been so few wasps around this summer because of a Godmanchester company s invention? Are brewers saving 50 per cent of the energy they formerly used because of a heating device developed in Huntingdon? Is compliance with the Working Time Direct
HAVE there been so few wasps around this summer because of a Godmanchester company's invention? Are brewers saving 50 per cent of the energy they formerly used because of a heating device developed in Huntingdon? Is compliance with the Working Time Directive now simpler because workers can clock on and off by fingerprint, thanks to a company in Hail Weston?
Which of those innovations is the most inventive is for the judges of the Greater Cambridge Partnership-sponsored Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Innovation Award 2007 to decide.
They have been assessing the three developments to show how they can already be shown to have worked, how they are benefiting both the end-user and the company, how they have been taken to market and the potential effect on other businesses.
On the short-list are WaspBane, a Godmanchester company that believes it has solved the problem of wasp traps doing more harm than good, Pursuit Dynamics of Huntingdon, whose new wort heater enables brewers to produce beer more cheaply and with far less energy, and Tensor plc, which has developed a new range of fingerprint readers that can cast aside distortions of oil and grease to produce an accurate identification.
Wasp traps have been used for decades but none has successfully controlled nuisance wasps and around 100 people have died each year in Europe as a result.
But WaspBane has exploited the life cycle and social behaviour of the insects that allows them to fulfil their pest control activities in spring and the early part of summer but keeps them off food and drink later in the season when they go in search of sweet food.
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The company says the product has reduced sting rates at theme parks by 97 per cent, using a unique bait system that regenerates itself, so that users do not risk being stung by half-dead insects as happens when they renew bait in conventional traps.
The trap is also species-specific and has been used to protect beehives from wasps, which destroy five to 10 per cent of hives each year.
The PDX wort heater from Pursuit Dynamics has been in development at Hinchingbrooke Business Park for three years in partnership with Brewing Research International (BRi) and brewers Coors. It is redefining the brewing industry by saving energy on an intensive process and enabling brewers to produce products cheaper, faster and greener than before, the company says.
Launched in May this year, units have already been bought by major brewing houses, which recognise that the unique system also reduces cleaning time for equipment and the costs associated with cleaning.
In spite of speeding up the process and saving up to half the energy consumed, the new heater does not change the taste of the beer.
BRi's technical director, Professor Richard Sharpe has described the product as "nothing short of a potential revolution in cost-saving terms for the brewing industry".
Working from a country house site in Hail Weston, near St Neots, Tensor plc has become one of the largest suppliers in Europe of time and attendance and access control systems.
It is particularly proud of its Dermal Fingerprint Reading systems for access control, which is far more accurate than other biometric technology, it says. It has enabled companies that could not previously use fingerprint technology because of contaminated hands the chance to do so. It believes its system is unique worldwide, and it has created huge new international markets for the company, which produced the world's first smart-card-based time and attendance system in 1991.
The next generation of the dermal fingerprint product will be a mobile version, which will plug into a PDA and enable workers to clock in and out remotely - a particular benefit for road transport workers and lone workers.