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Shoe comfort project makes industry award shortlist

Friday 26 April 2019

FOOT and ankle researchers at the University of Salford have been recommended for a national award for their work with business.

The podiatry specialists are in the running for a ‘Best of the Best’ Award for a project sponsored by Innovate UK.

Over a three-year period, the team under leading UK expert Professor Chris Nester has improved footwear for professionals who work in hospitality and healthcare industries and are on their feet all day.

As well as being durable and washable, shoes such as clogs provide comfort and support for those standing to help reduce foot, ankle, knee and back pain.

New designs

The Salford team worked with Bristol-based WearerTech, a division of Toffeln Footwear Ltd to improve and create new designs to make their footwear as comfortable, ergonomic and health protecting as possible. 

The impact of the project was so great that a spin-out company was created – WearerTech Ltd – to focus on research-led design.

Dr Anita Williams, a researcher in podiatry in the School of Health & Society, said: “Shoes are crucial not only to safety but to well being and performance.

“The company wanted independent assessment of their products and to know what was important for wearers and for their daily lives.”

Industry exploiting knowledge-base

Together WearerTech and the Salford team were awarded a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). Part of the government’s Industrial Strategy and funded by UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK, KTPs aim to help businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity through better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK knowledge base.

With around 800 running nationally, competition is fierce for both funding and accolades, so to be shortlisted for the KTP Best of the Best 2019 Award is a major coup.

KTP Associate Jenny Anderson said: ‘It’s fantastic that this project has been recognised for its success. Itis a testament to the brilliant collaboration and investment in the end goals by all parties, before, during and after the project.

“As well as a new product range that will provide greater comfort, protection and personalisation to people on their feet all day, the new insights gained from the project lead to academic outputs.”

Long-term partnership

The Salford team now have a second KTP with WearerTech, supervised by Dr Carina Price and Jenny Anderson has gone from ‘associate’ to time employee of the company.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Stephenson said: "This partnership is an excellent example of Salford working in collaboration with industry and building long-term relationships."

The awards will be made at Burlington House, London on Thursday, May 2.

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Gareth Hollyman, Senior Press & PR Officer (Science)

0161 295 6895