March 2023 was a month of major highlights for innovation, sustainability, inclusivity and connectivity in our Region, with the Lunia 3D enterprise celebrating an increasingly international order book, South Wales Industrial Cluster unveiling its 30-point plan for creating sustainable industrial success, the RouteBuddies app bringing greater street safety, and the CASPER Shield cybersecurity system delivering a unique solution for smart homes …
3D Printing startup shaping international success from Cowbridge
Lunia 3D, the Cowbridge-based 3D Printing enterprise set up during 2020, celebrates its third anniversary with commissions that include creating replacement parts for use in high-end brands such as Maserati, designing a full-scale car prototype for self-driving testing; and producing a 5-metre-high mock data cooling unit for an exhibition in Germany.
The growing order book reflects the remarkable progress of a company founded during the pandemic by two former secondary school friends – Ken Pearce and Yousef Ahmed, both aged 26 and from Newport.
Founding Director Ken spotted the technology’s potential when he learned of the PPE shield shortage for healthcare workers during the pandemic – producing more than 800 free 3D printed face shields for carers and dentists from his Newport home, using an Amazon fundraiser to cover material costs.
Three years on, with 40 more printers and investment from the British Business Bank, Lunia is firmly established in a fast-expanding 3D printing market that is quite literally building a new world all around us – with this pioneering enterprise working on projects from both individual commissions to major brands.
Those projects include a full-size car shell that could be assembled like a jigsaw, kitted out and used for prototype self-driving and camera capabilities, through to reverse engineering 150 computer keyboards for a Midlands school, saving them from going to landfill.
With plans to invest in Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) printers that enable larger quantities and quicker turnarounds with outstanding quality and strength, Lunia is bringing a whole new dimension to design and manufacturing – and helping put CCR on the map for 3D printing.
South Wales Industrial Cluster publishes plan to unlock £30 billion Clean Growth future
The South Wales Industrial Cluster (SWIC) has unveiled its eagerly awaited Cluster Plan report, which focuses on accelerating Wales’ contribution to global warming and building economic prosperity for the Region.
The report – entitled “South Wales Industry – A Plan for Clean Growth” – is the culmination of 26 months’ work by 40+ Welsh businesses, academic institutions and public bodies; outlining 30 policy drivers that SWIC believe are vital to the decarbonising of our industry.
Key priority areas include:
- Ensuring energy and carbon policies, plus support mechanisms, are internationally competitive.
- Providing business model support for electrification and Carbon Capture & Utilisation (CCU).
- The urgent development of the South Wales electricity grid and hydrogen infrastructure.
- Inclusion of SWIC and CO2 shipping needs in the UK Government’s cluster sequencing programme.
- Collaboration to progress skills, supply chain opportunities, R&D and Clean Growth Hubs.
The report sets out a step-by-step roadmap for the decarbonisation of South Wales industry and the infrastructure required to achieve net zero – potentially unlocking an unprecedented £30BN investment that creates new industries and tens of thousands of jobs. The report can be found in more detail at www.swic.cymru
CCR entrepreneur launches App to combat Female and LGBTQ+ harassment
A Cardiff-based entrepreneur is aiming to help reduce street harassment experienced by women and members of the LGBTQ+ community – with the launch of a first-of-its-kind street safety app.
23-year-old graduate Jack Blundell began developing RouteBuddies in 2021 during his final year of a degree in applied software engineering at Cardiff University, after reading social media stories of street harassment in and around the city.
RouteBuddies is a free safety app that enables users to meet in groups of three or more and walk home together across the Welsh capital – providing physical safety and reassuring connectivity.
Users sign-up by entering their full details and a valid picture ID, both of which are completely hidden to other users and verified by an internal team using strict background checks.
During authentication, users can choose who they would prefer to meet over the app, by inputting their preferences on gender and age, and setting the app to different modes, such as ‘Student’ or ‘LGBTQ+’.
By searching their home address, users are automatically paired with people in nearby locations, with the app setting a meeting-up location and working out the safest route home for all.
With a recent report by UN Women UK finding that 97% of women aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed, the RouteBuddies development has been strongly backed by Big Ideas Wales (the Welsh Government’s youth entrepreneurship service) – and is a welcome innovation to making the capital city a safer place for all, supporting the criminalisation of street harassment which came into effect in December 2022.
CCR-based Engineers develop ‘Detect & Protect’ cybersecurity for Smart Homes
A cybersecurity system created by Cardiff-based engineers to help protect smart homes from cyber attacks – making connected living places more secure and safe – has debuted at a UK Government ‘dragon’s den’ event.
CASPER Shield uses first-hand cyber and physical data to detect irregular events rather than relying on insecurely transmitted second-hand cyber or network data.
Developed by computer scientists and engineers at Cardiff University, the system deploys AI-powered algorithms to discover anomalies in real time – based on the behaviours of devices and occupants in the home.
This unique dual-method approach to security is increasingly needed – as smart homes contain more programmable devices and an increased ‘attack surface’ that make them a more attractive target for adversaries.
CASPER was one of 15 finalists in UKRI’s Cyber ASAP Demo Day, presenting their pitch to demonstrate Proof of Concept capable of protecting the current 200 million+ homes around the world – and showcasing the expertise that has made Cybersecurity one of CCR’s five priority sectors for the Region.
Keep up to date on the latest developments across Innovation, Sustainability, Inclusivity and Connectivity – go to www.cardiffcapitalregion.wales