Ryedale Group wins inaugural Stationers' Innovation Excellence Awards

Jenny Roper
Friday, July 4, 2014

The Ryedale Group has been named overall winner of the Stationers' Company’s inaugural Innovation Excellence Awards, for developing a low-cost gas sensor with litho-printed electronics.

Broadcaster Peter Day, John Buffoni of The Ryedale Group, Master Tom Hempenstall and Stephen Buffoni
Broadcaster Peter Day, John Buffoni of The Ryedale Group, Master Tom Hempenstall and Stephen Buffoni

The sensor was initially developed for healthcare applications, in which it can be used to identify chemicals in a person’s breath that might indicate they are suffering from cancer or diabetes, for example. 

The capabilities of the sensor were also showcased at last month’s Media Market Place exhibition in Leeds where it was shown distinguishing different brands of whisky. And group director of operations at Ryedale Steve Buffoni reports that the sensor could eventually have a wide range of applications.

“This could be used by drinks brands to check their suppliers are supplying them with the correct product, for instance. Or it could be used on the shelves of supermarkets to show when food is starting to go off,” he said.

Buffoni said that winning the Innovation Excellence Award would help the company boost its efforts to take their product prototype, which has been four years in the making, to market. 

“We are about ready to start looking at who we need to talk to about this, such as people who supply the NHS,” said Buffoni. “The Stationers are really quite influential, so this will help publicise what we have managed to achieve." 

The Innovation Excellence Awards also recognised 10 other companies with awards. These included Banner Business Services, which was recognised for its closed-loop recycling scheme, Fuji Specialty Ink Systems, for achieving zero waste and significant cost reductions, and Nosy Crow, for creative use of multimedia apps for screen-savvy children. 

Awards organiser Tony Mash said: “The aim of the competition was to recognise the exceptional level of product and business creativity in the £75bn communications and content industry, the sector served by the Stationers’ Company. We wanted to highlight outstanding innovations capable of generating future growth and prosperity for the companies concerned.”

The judges said that it had been difficult to choose between the wide range of innovation the 24 entries represented, with entries spanning the paper, ink, printing, publishing, advertising, marketing, copyright licensing, packaging and online sectors. 

Ryedale's gas-sensor entry is produced using UV-litho printed conductive inks onto plastic. A polymeric coating is added to each sensor, with the type of coating depending on the chemical being detected. The sensor attracts the relevant VOCs when breath or air is passed across it, sending data to a connected computer. Up to six sensors can be included in one 'breathalyzer'.

“As far as we know we are the only people doing this in the world,” said Buffoni, who reported that detecting where plants were no longer being kept at the right humidity and detecting where cattle were suffering from TB, were two further potential applications. 

“The more you think about this the more applications you think of,” he added.

All the companies who secured awards were presented with certificates by outgoing Stationers’ Company Master Tom Hempenstall and interviewed on stage by BBC In Business presenter and one of the Innovation Excellence Awards judges, Peter Day.

Don't forget to get your PrintWeek Awards entries in for the extended deadline of 18 July.

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