OptaSense honoured to be shortlisted for prestigious Royal Academy Award – the premier award for UK innovation in engineering

July 3rd, 2014

3rd July 2014: OptaSense, a subsidiary of QinetiQ Group plc and the global leader in Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS), has said it is honoured to be shortlisted for the UK’s most prestigious engineering accolade, the MacRobert Award, after the awards ceremony last night.

Synonymous with spotting the ‘next big thing’ in the technology sector, the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert award is the UK’s longest running national prize for engineering. It identifies outstanding innovation with proven commercial promise and tangible societal benefit.

The awards ceremony, which took place last night (Wednesday 2 July) at the Royal Opera House in London, recognised OptaSense’s ground breaking technology which converts pre-existing fibre optic cable into a condition monitoring sensor for long infrastructure assets like oil wells, pipelines, railways and roads.  The winner was Cobalt Light Systems.

OptaSense provides revenue assurance to these infrastructure asset owners by improving safety and security, increasing their throughput and yield as well as reducing the costs associated with operating these long linear assts. By creating a sensor from the fibre optic cable next to these arteries of global commerce, OptaSense is building The Earth’s Nervous System™. For the first time these assets can be monitored over their entire length which will mean the world’s energy and transport networks can function more safely and efficiently than they do today.

OptaSense is a platform technology that has applications in multiple vertical markets including oil and gas, subsea, pipeline security, border security, rail and road.  In oil and gas, the DAS technology has been successfully deployed in a wide range of onshore applications including microseismic monitoring, production flow monitoring, vertical seismic profiling (VSP) and hydraulic fracture profiling (fracking), and is transforming the industry’s ability to understand in real-time what is happening along the well bore and beyond.

Magnus McEwen-King, OptaSense Managing Director, said: “It is an honour to have been shortlisted for one of the most prestigious engineering awards in the UK. This reflects all of our technical teams’ hard work and reinforces that we are recognised as world leaders in the development of distributed fibre optic acoustic sensing.

“Following the success of our technology onshore, we are currently developing the world’s first fully marinised and qualified DAS system for offshore use in a joint programme with Shell. The system, for the first time, will provide the offshore industry with highly accurate acoustic data acquisition, and will be deployed in water depths of up to 10,000ft. This again highlights our desire to continually develop this innovative technology.”

Leo Quinn, QinetiQ Group Chief Executive Officer, added: “To be shortlisted for this prestigious Award from the Royal Academy is a further confirmation of QinetiQ’s strategy to build on our technical heritage and drive forward our portfolio of high growth businesses. OptaSense is genuine game-changing technology which I am proud is built in Britain, contributing to both the UK’s export capability and its science and engineering skill base.”

OptaSense operates in 40 countries globally with operations across multiple industries including oil and gas, defence and security, transport and utilities. The DAS specialist was shortlisted against two other candidates from the UK’s thriving engineering sector: Cobalt Light Systems, an SME using cutting-edge materials science to fight terrorism, and Rolls Royce, the engineering giant behind the world’s first vertical take-off system for a supersonic fighter jet.

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About the MacRobert Award

First presented in 1969, the MacRobert Award is widely regarded as the most coveted in the industry. Founded by the MacRobert Trusts, the Award is now presented by the Royal Academy of Engineering supported by the Worshipful Company of Engineers. The prize fund was originally established with donations from the MacRobert Trusts, the Academy and British industry. For more information, visit: www.raeng.org.uk/prizes/macrobert

Previous winners include EMI Ltd, who in 1972 developed the CT Scanner, a vital medical device that can now be found in almost every hospital in the developed world. In 2002 Cambridge Display Technologies won the MacRobert Award for its light emitting polymer displays for televisions and smart phones. Last year’s winner was software company RealVNC, which judges predicted could be a billion dollar company within five years.

About the Royal Academy of Engineering

As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook. We have four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; foster better education and skills; lead the profession; promote engineering at the heart of society.

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