Public Release: 

Winners of the UK ICT Pioneers 2015 announced

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Jonathan Roberts from Lancaster University is the overall winner of the 2015 UK ICT Pioneers competition for his research Nano-Identification: Fingerprints of the Future.

Jonathan came first in the Future ICT category and went on to triumph following a Dragon's Den-style pitch to claim a £3,000 prize.

The announcement was made last night at an exhibition and awards ceremony in London. Industry judges and sponsors of the competition were from; the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Facebook, British Computing Society (BCS), Samsung and BT.

Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of EPSRC, who presented the prizes, said: "ICT Pioneers is our regular competition that we use to showcase the best work produced by UK PhD students. It's awarded to students who can demonstrate the excellence and commercial potential of their ICT related research."

Fifteen finalists showcased their research at the prestigious event which was compered by Quentin Cooper. The category winners were:

  • Leo Laughlin, University of Bristol
  • Callum Littlejohns, University of Southampton
  • Andra Adams, University of Cambridge
  • Jonathan Roberts, Lancaster University

They were awarded £2,000 each and pitched their research to a 'Dragon's Den' style panel to industry experts and sponsors.

Jonathan is a PhD student at the EPSRC NOWNANO Doctoral Training Centre, a research collaboration between Lancaster University and the University of Manchester. He said: "My invention uses next-generation quantum technology to uniquely identify any product. It addresses two problems - it can solve the problem of counterfeit products which happens in many different sectors including the fashion, automotive and pharmaceutical industries.

"Secondly, it addresses the problem of how you spot the difference between real and fake devices that are communicating over a network. Imagine taking a fake drug using the wrong ingredients or having a self-driving car communicating with a hacked server. Both could put people's lives at risk. Security is essential.

"My invention involves the creation of devices with unique identities on a nano-scale employing state-of-the-art quantum technology. Each device will be unique and 100 per cent impossible to copy. I've created an optical identity using graphene and an electronic identity. We're now working towards measuring these devices with a smart phone set-up so you can authenticate any device at any point in the supply chain.

"By slimming digital fingerprints down to an atomic scale we've created devices that are not only smaller and cheaper but also fundamentally more secure than any other existing technology."

In a video the industry judges and sponsors explain the impact of ICT research to advance innovative technologies within their business.


Notes to Editors

Judging Panel:
Philip Nelson, CEO, EPSRC
Bob Madahar, Senior Fellow, Dstl
Paul Caseley, Senior Fellow, Dstl
James Salter, Research Manager, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Luis Vaquero-Gonzalez, Senior Research Engineer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Jonathan Legh-Smith, Head of Strategic Research, BT
Bill Mitchell, Director of Education, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT
Dino Distefano, Software Engineer, Facebook
Howard Benn, Head of Standards and Industrial Affairs, Samsung UK

The 15 finalists were:

Technology Everywhere:

Leo Laughlin - University of Bristol
A novel Full-Duplexing technology for 5G mobile

Hisham Elshaer - King's College London/Vodafone Group Services Limited
Shaping the future of telecoms: Downlink and Uplink Decoupling (DUDe) for 5G Cellular Networks

Mahdi Jelodari Mamaghani - The University of Manchester
A Software/Hardware Framework for Productivity Enhancement

Davide Salanitri - The University of Nottingham
I am Virtual Reality and you should trust me

Information Overload:

Callum Littlejohns - University of Southampton
The Future is Bright - Silicon Photonics

Swetha S Bobba - City University London
Supercontinuum Generation in Graphene Fibers

Puneet Chhabra -Heriot-Watt University
Information Processing of Spectrally Enhanced Light Detection and ranging sensors

Thomas Gransden - University of Leicester
Automatic Proof Generation with SEPIA

Transforming Society:

Andra Adams - University of Cambridge
Emotionally-Intelligent Machines

Rain Ashford - Goldsmiths, University of London
Emotive wearables

Muhammad Salman Haleem - Manchester Metropolitan University
Automatic extraction of retinal features to assist diagnosis of Glaucoma disease

Future ICT:

Jonathan Roberts - Lancaster University
Nano-Identification - Fingerprints of the future

Andrea Mambrini - University of Birmingham
Using mathematical models to design better evolutionary algorithms

Pantazis Deligiannis - Imperial College London
Finding Asynchronous Software Defects before they hit production

A.V Harish - University of Southampton
Building High Power Fibre Lasers: From milliwatts toward kilowatts

Media Enquiries

Please contact the EPSRC Press Office on 01793 444 404 or email for images of the winners, judges and participants.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) As the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research, our vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate.

By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture.

We work collectively with our partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

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