Pint-sized science

12 events, 4 venues, 3 days, more than 1 pint! For anyone who hasn’t experienced a Pint of Science, you’re missing out!

Southampton is one of just twelve cities across the UK to play host to the Pint of Science Festival each May. Billed as ‘your chance to meet the people responsible for the future of science’, it brings brilliant minds to your local pub to share their latest research and findings. Naturally, we were there in spades!

Peter Birkett, CEO of Southampton Science Park gave an engaging presentation about how he and his team have created an ‘Innovation Ecosystem’ at the Science Park. Based around four C’s – Collaboration, Coaching, Community and Challenge – he demonstrated how these four elements combine to create a dynamic, vibrant and successful environment; one which has seen tenant companies take their science onto the world stage. Examples of some of leading edge applications of science were shown in an intricate network, Peter explained how relationships and community were key to moving the scientific community forward. He spoke about how the University of Southampton, large corporates, government and non-governmental organisations such as UKTI, Innovate UK and Future Solent interact with start-ups, SMEs and students to create a truly unique environment and a force for change. He highlighted initiatives such as SETSquared, the Catalyst Centre competition and the Catalyst Challenge as well as the community spirit that’s fostered through formal and informal networking.

John Cousins, MD of Science-Park-based company isodo3d, spoke about advances in the 3D printing world and about how his own technology unexpectedly helped surgeons perform his own operation! Whilst explaining the virtues of his company’s 3D printing technology to medics from Bournemouth Hospital and how this could be utilised more effectively in the NHS, John collapsed in agony. Ten minutes later he was in ambulance on his way to Southampton General Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a large and unusually shaped kidney stone requiring an operation to remove it. Realising he could use his own technologies to help, he used layered 2D scan images to print a 3D model which was then referred to during his operation. It took just five hours to construct a model of John’s kidney and two hours to remove the offending stone. The model he produced enabled surgeons to identify the best entry point which resulted in a more precise operation. John went on to predict that soon, we will all have 3D printers in our homes which could be used for day to day tasks and one-off situations. So, say your printer broke down, you’d contact customer services and they’d be able to email through a 3D drawing of the part, which you could then print and use it to fix the printer! It seems the possibilities are endless!

It was all very inspiring and clearly attendees were really engaged by the eye-opening concepts discussed by the wide variety of speakers. The whole event was really good fun, highly interactive with games and competitions too. We can’t wait until May 2016… wonder who will be there?

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