What is your role within the Digital Dairy Chain team?
I lead the Milk Round Technology Accelerator programme.
What led you here?
I’ve had an interesting career journey over the last 30 years. On the science side, I graduated with a degree in microbiology, that took me initially into soil science and the study of pesticides in the environment where I obtained a PhD. My post doc career took me into projects related to the preservation of historic building materials through to innovations for subsea oil and gas inspection. You might ask what was the common thread running through these diverse topics? It was the opportunity I had to work with optoelectronics engineers. With them I started to learn about optical methods I could apply outdoors to monitor microorganisms, the environment and surfaces of structures to make my life easier on field trips!
Eventually I moved back into academia, this time with some commercial experience under my belt, I joined a team who supported academics in technology licensing and spin out company formation. This was so interesting, and again, massively diverse topics and challenges. After almost a decade doing that I grabbed the opportunity to apply for a post at CENSIS who offered a great opportunity to work again with an engineering team with sensing expertise. At CENSIS we build collaborative project opportunities between industry, academia and public sector organisations. Working across sectors and with emerging technologies and domain experts we fund, mentor, advise, design, build and deploy innovative sensors and IoT systems.
What is the most exciting part of the Technology Accelerator Programme for you?
Every enquiry is like opening a present, it is exploring the mystery of the challenge with the applicant and identifying approaches and solutions we can transform into prototypes, demonstrators and pilots in the Milk Round. Between ourselves and the other Digital Dairy Chain partners, we also have a great innovation network with a range of support and contacts we can connect them into.
Who do you want to hear from?
We would like to hear from anyone who is a business (start up, SME) or an entrepreneur who needs the IoT, sensing or imaging expertise and resources we can bring so they can get to the demonstrator stage of their idea. We want to help applicants develop their idea or existing offering so they can begin to test it, start a dialogue with their customers to bring opportunities to trial, showcase or perhaps capture user insight. We want to help applicants address unmet needs in the dairy sector, or help them develop new or better ways of doing something that could benefit the dairy sector.
How can they contact you?
Follow the link in the Milk Round Technology Accelerator page to complete the online the expression of interest form, or email me at Rachael.Wakefield@censis.org.uk.