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Data saves lives!

15 Oct 2019

Find out more about the Policy@Manchester research showcase

research showcase

Have you ever wondered what edible insects, remote-operational drones, life-saving data and microplastic pollution have in common? If you attended our most recent Policy@Manchester research showcase then you’ll know that these were all topics presented by our very own world-leading academics.

On 30 September 2019, our researchers presented their work at a drop-in showcase at the Conservative Party Conference. The event provided an opportunity for academics to connect with those in the political sphere on key areas relevant to their constituencies. Coffee and chat were in abundance with over 150 visitors (and even one canine companion!) visiting the showcase over the course of the morning.

So, can data really save lives? According to Richard Williams and researchers at the Centre for Connected Health (CHC) the answer is a resounding yes: ‘CHC unites local health data and advanced technology to improve health services for patients across the north of England.’

Also amongst the exhibitors were Professor Mike Barnes and Dr Simon Watson from Home Offshore. ‘The £5 Million project investigates the use of advanced sensing, robotics, virtual reality models and artificial intelligence to improve the maintenance of offshore windfarms. By 2025, it is estimated that the industry will be worth £2 billion annually in the UK alone.             

Professor Barnes said:

“It’s vital for academics to engage more strongly with policy makers. It is something we on the EPSRC HOME Offshore project are very keen to do. The session at the Conservative Party conference, organised by Policy@Manchester, was really good for this: we were able to connect with a broad range of political policy formers, industry reps, think tanks, charities and intrigued members of the public.”

Did you know that Manchester’s River Tame has the highest recorded microplastics per square metre of anywhere in the world? Professor Jamie Woodward and Jiawei Li presented their work on microplastic contamination in the Greater Manchester river network. Whilst ocean microplastics have been a topic of much media interest of late, more must be known about the major sources of the pollution and the transport processes involved in order to improve future wastewater management policy and waterway health.

Dr Ann Gledson represented #BritainBreathing, an exciting new citizen science project directed by Professor Sheena Cruickshank. Britain breathing is “the first nationwide project aiming to better understand when the symptoms of seasonal allergies (such as hayfever) occur, what factors affect this and why seasonal allergies are on the rise.” The project encourages the UK public to act as ‘citizen sensors’ Want to get involved? Download the #BritainBreathing app!

Also at the event was The Tyndall  Centre for Climate Change Research, who presented their work on the SCATTER system, a novel method of calculating local carbon budgets. Professor Barry Lennox from the RAIN (Robotics and AI in Nuclear) hub also revealed how robotic and AI technologies can solve the challenges faced by the nuclear industry. Dr Luke Mumford also presented on health inequalities between the North and the rest of England. He reports the impact of poor health on productivity and makes policy and practice recommendations to reduce adverse employment consequences. “Reducing the gap in productivity between the Northern Powerhouse and the rest of the UK would generate an additional £13.2 billion.”

Professor David Johnson and Dr Helen Downey presented N8 AgriFood Manchester. This included a wide range of research on sustainable agriculture … and even a few edible insects!

Policy@Manchester offers a focal point and collaborative forum for public policy research and expertise in the UK and internationally. Want to find out more or get involved in our research showcase events? Contact us at or follow us on Twitter @UoMPolicy.

Shakti Patel - Policy@Manchester team