The ORCHID project, a major research project involving the University of Southampton, took top prize in the data and connectivity category at the Collaborate to Innovate Awards this week.

the engineer award (002)

Organised by The Engineer – the UK’s longest running engineering publication – the awards were aimed at identifying some of the UK’s most impressive and innovative examples of engineering collaboration.

The ORCHID project tackled one of the key challenges in modern computer science – how humans and intelligent software systems can function together in a seamless and effective manner.

The project spawned 30 follow-on projects worth £15 million. It also established a new multi-disciplinary research community and initiated a range of start-up companies. For example, the researchers developed a device that provides users with a thermal analysis of their house to reduce their energy consumption. This technology was used in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake to save lives. By using crowd-sourced data, they were able to map settlements across the affected areas and identify aid and search and rescue priorities.

ORCHID co-investigator Dr Sarvapali Ramchurn, from Southampton’s Agents Research Group – the largest research group of its kind in the world – said:

“This award is a great recognition of how great collaboration leads to great research outcomes. ORCHID brought together researchers from different disciplines to tackle really difficult challenges. I think the main reason this collaboration was so successful is because researchers learnt to trust each other’s methods and capabilities and using this to solve key real-world challenges.”

Dr Ramchurn and the ORCHID team will receive the award as part of The Engineer’s Collaborate to Innovate Conference, which will be held in Manchester in November.