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Engineering Research Impact

Our engineering research is carried out with national and international industrial, academic partners and healthcare providers, generating solutions and technologies that impact the world - improving people's lives, creating jobs through spin-out companies and sparking economic and societal changes.

Below are examples of the research impact in health, telecommunications and robotics returned in the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) by King's Engineering.

 FEATURE Aldwych Quarter Bikes

COVID Symptom Study App informing UK government policy

As the global COVID-19 pandemic hit, scientists and governments needed a way to capture real-time data to understand known and potential symptoms in the population. King’s researchers together with ZOE Global, a leading health science company, rapidly engineered the COVID Symptom Study smartphone app. This was used to capture real-time data on known and potential symptoms of COVID-19 from residents of the UK, USA and Sweden.

Endorsed by the Welsh, English and Scottish Governments, over 4 million people signed up to the app by July 2020. The analysis of the data led to:

  1. The World Health Organisation (WHO), the UK government and the UK Office for National Statistics updating their guidance on anosmia and delirium as key symptoms of COVID-19.
  2. Identification of rate and location of new infections in real time, which informed the UK Government’s national strategy for containing infection.
  3. Helping the UK government identify hot-spots across the nation.
  4. Identification of the symptoms and duration of Long COVID for the first time in a non-clinical population, informing UK government policy and NICE guidelines.

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Robotic therapy devices developed to improve the treatment of lower limb injuries

Lower limb injuries can be debilitating for patients, with conventional physiotherapy treatment often costly and unreliable in terms of consistency. 

King’s researchers have developed robotic therapy devices for the treatment of lower limb injuries. This healthcare technology from King’s has been further developed by two companies, Movendo Technology (Italy) and AiTreat Pte Ltd. (Singapore).

This innovation in robotic therapy devices has led to treatment equal to or better than conventional physiotherapy. The technology has also provided a more consistent treatment, provided at a lower cost. By July 2020, more than 11,000 patients in over 100 clinics had been treated using the robotic therapy, with over 800,000 physiotherapy treatments delivered in total. 

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I create reconfigurable mechanisms and robots that are used in healthcare, manufacturing and the home. In the past twenty years, novel engineering designs came up with many ideas that originated both in daily life, and in origami and decoration. This has become a truly international field that can transform lives.

Professor Jain Dai FREng

Pioneering 5G research impacts global telecommunications industry

Mobile connectivity is vital for modern society, underpinning a wide range of commercial and societal uses. 5G systems, which provide significant improvements in performance over 4G systems, are now being deployed with an expected market value of £500 billion by 2030. A key factor in acquiring parts of this market is the ability to enter the 5G market early with innovative offerings, and to cut operational costs through standardised solutions.

The improved performance of 5G systems was achieved through a departure from legacy design principles, some of which King’s contributed to through their pioneering research in the area. Specifically, King’s pioneered and contributed to i) decoupled up and downlinks; ii) fixed-mobile convergence; iii) application-centric edge-cloud design; and iv) software-enabled network slicing.

King’s research has enabled a departure from legacy protocol and architecture design principles with significant impact on global telecoms industries and standards, including:

• 3GPP (global telecommunications standards body, 700 industry members): King’s provided standards-essential contributions to two standards on converged 5G architectures, which provide significant benefits in terms of customer experience and affects all network and broadband providers globally.

• GSMA (global operator alliance with 750 operator members): King’s introduced cost-saving Generic 5G Slice Templates, initially included in the de facto industry guidebook and which are now being adopted by most major telecoms operators globally.

• King’s played an instrumental role in gauging early 5G architecture capabilities and translating them into viable societal use cases covering health, education and gaming, and the arts and culture. These were then documented on Ericsson’s website and led to significant media coverage. Notably outlets such as CNN, BBC, Wired, and FT have all continuously reported on this work.

FEATURE City Network

Using PET imaging technology to improve diagnosis and treatment of lymphoma

Lymphomas affect more than 100,000 people in the UK and US alone. King’s researchers wanted to develop technologies to improve the treatment of this disease.

Multidisciplinary engineering and clinical research at King’s has led to significant advances in the role of PET imaging technology in the diagnosis, staging and treatment of lymphomas. Prior to the King’s-led research, lymphoma disease mapping at diagnosis and response assessment at the end of treatment were carried out using CT scans, as well as invasive, often painful bone marrow biopsies.

The research has led to new international guidelines on using PET-CT scanning as the primary test for staging and assessing response in lymphomas. This has resulted in fewer side-effects and improved cure rates for patients globally. It has also rendered bone marrow biopsy an unnecessary test in patients with Hodgkin Lymphoma (HL) in the UK, Europe, Australia and the US. This research has changed practice for the treatment of HL globally, using an early PET-CT scan to guide treatment.


AI-driven image guidance technology transforms endovascular surgery

Although less invasive, endovascular surgery still increases a patient’s risk of exposure to harmful ionising radiation and kidney-toxic contrast agents. 

Researchers at King’s developed a cloud-based, artificial intelligence-driven image guidance system called Cydar-EV, which minimises exposure to radiation and kidney-toxic contrast agents during endovascular surgery by shortening the duration of the operation. 

The demonstrated success of the technology led to the development of a King’s spin-out company Cydar Medical in 2012 and the technology was then commercialised in the UK, Europe and the USA. Cydar is the first company in the world using cloud and AI technology to inform and influence surgery in real-time. In recognition of its pioneering work, Cydar was the winner of the Cambridge Business Innovation Award. By the end of 2020, the technology had already benefitted approximately 2,000 patients.

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Medical imaging solutions for neurology research

Effective diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases requires continued research around the world.

Our research on medical imaging at King’s led to the formation of a spin-out company, IXICO, that works to advance therapies for neurological diseases by providing medical imaging solutions for clinical trials and transforming data into clinically meaningful insights.

Since 2013, IXICO has commercial partnerships with 9 of the top 15 pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Biogen and Eli Lilly. The company has qualified sites in over 50 countries across the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, and had analysed over 100,000 brain scans from more than 27,000 patients by the end of 2020. IXICO’s work has provided pivotal imaging results that have impacted neurology clinical research trial outcomes, providing more definitive results and requiring smaller patient cohorts than other outcome measures.

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