One woman’s journey into neurotech: meet Hannah Claridge, TTP’s Head of Neurotechnology 

Hannah Claridge, Head of Neurotechnology at TTP, sat down with Rachel Lee and Ciara Sejour, the young tech enthusiasts behind the podcast Luminexus. They talked about how Hannah got started in science, what drew her to neurotechnology and what keeps her motivated during the long process of bringing a new product to market. Here’s what Rachel and Ciara found out about her exciting career! 

How did Hannah get started in science and technology?  

Even at school, Hannah was always fascinated by science, from particle physics to cosmology. This curiosity took her all the way to Oxford University for a degree in Physics. There she discovered how science can improve people’s lives and that her interest lay not solely in studying the universe for its own sake, but in the medical applications of science. However, she felt that medicine itself was not for her. Instead, she found that there were many more career paths available to her that utilize her strength in physics than she could have imagined. 

Hannah decided to do her final year project on brain imaging, which led to a PhD at the Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain (FMRIB). She loved her research into non-invasive ways of measuring blood flow and oxygen metabolism because it allowed her to use her skills in physics and had important implications for helping patients. For example, it helped clarify the kind of treatment they might need after a stroke, and also provided insights into what distinguishes the onset of dementias like Alzheimer’s from normal and healthy ageing.  

What drew Hannah into commercial applications of tech? 

By the second half of her PhD studies, Hannah could see that the benefits of this work would only come many years into the future. She yearned to work on something that might have a more immediate impact, and began to look for a career that was closer to bringing new treatments to market.

That’s when Hannah came across TTP, and was excited by its work helping other companies create the next generation of medical devices. So, she joined TTP and has never looked back. Her work has involved developing everything from drug delivery devices like inhalers and auto-injectors to devices for measuring things like blood pressure. More recently, as Head of Neurotechnology, Hannah has been focussing on implanted devices to help relieve chronic pain, to deal with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and much more.

How does an idea become a commercial reality?

In contrast to working as a doctor, or as a scientist in a university, Hannah’s work also has a strong focus on the commercial side of things. If a product is really going to help those it’s intended for, the manufacturer has to be able to make money from it. Even a technically brilliant solution to a medical problem won’t help anyone if the company goes bust before getting it to market. That means Hannah has to have a head for business as well as science.  

The process begins with identifying a need and a possible solution, and then working out if that solution is both technically and commercially viable. This is called proof of concept. It’s an extensive process, typically involving computer models and animal studies before the solution is even tried in human patients. But when it does get there eventually, that’s when all the hard work begins to pay off! Some of the devices Hannah has worked on at TTP have already made it into the clinic, and she looks forward to the day when the first brain implant her team has worked on helps the first patients.  

What keeps Hannah motivated?

What keeps Hannah motivated is being part of a great team with brilliant clients. Everyone pulls together to help one another and to make steady progress. A big part of the product development cycle is running user studies to find out what potential users of a product want and need, and how they might benefit from it. Hannah finds this kind of feedback very encouraging because it helps her see the real impact her work can have – the very thing that has motivated her from the beginning of her career.  

What advice does Hannah have for aspiring young scientists like Rachel and Ciara? 

It all begins with curiosity. Hannah advises young women who constantly question how things work to keep learning and even conduct their own experiments to cultivate their curiosity. Even in a field like neurotech, it’s possible to buy relatively cheap EEG kits and play around with them – the beginning of experimentation. She also points to resources like and OpenBCI, where anyone can find links to training resources and information about hackathons. Some universities are even putting on events like drone races where you control drones with EEG headsets. So, there are lots of fun ways of getting into neurotechnology.  

Hannah believes young women like Rachel and Ciara can flourish in STEM just as she has done. Gender does not have to be a barrier, any more than ethnicity, nationality or other forms of diversity. She knows that many companies like TTP and the innovative firms her team works with need fantastic scientists of all backgrounds, as long as they are impatient to make a difference. 

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BVLOS for UAVs: Technical and regulatory pieces start to come together at TTP workshop

TTP’s 2023 “Talk to the Eye in the Sky” workshop, co-organised with Cambridge Wireless, showed how the drone industry and regulators are making progress towards enabling routine Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations.

Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) has long been a key topic in the drone industry because, commercially speaking, it’s what will allow the industry to take off. Possible applications range from much talked about last-mile delivery, to more near-term infrastructure inspection and medical delivery in remote areas.

BVLOS will massively improve the scalability of UAV operations and enable several commercial use cases. But existing regulations do not accommodate routine BVLOS operations. In the UK, for example, BVLOS permits are currently time-limited in segregated airspace, and regulators are working to develop new rules to accommodate the commercial opportunity.

At TTP, we are taking a keen interest in this regulatory evolution, because it will play a large part in defining the capabilities of the technologies that will eventually enable autonomous drone operations at scale. We, therefore, began our workshop with a presentation by a regulator.

Edward Fitzpatrick, Regulatory Innovation Specialist, spoke about the importance of the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) accords to BVLOS as a regulatory priority. He explained how the Authority works with the industry through its Innovation Advisory Services and Regulatory Sandbox.

“We are on a pathway to BVLOS Integration,” he said outlining the Authority’s current work to develop regulatory frameworks to enable “specific category” BVLOS operations in non-segregated airspace – meaning operations other than those that present the lowest risk to third parties.

The CAA is currently finalising a policy concept for an “Accommodation” phase leading from the segregation to the integration of UAV with conventional aircraft operations, he said.

Is there a schedule to move through all three stages from segregation, through accommodation, to the eventual integration of UAVs? Fitzpatrick was tight-lipped — but a regulatory sandbox for the BVLOS accommodation airspace policy concept was published shortly after the workshop.

From Electronic Conspicuity to Detect-and-Avoid

Gavin Goudie’s presentation about the BVLOS trials Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd undertakes at their facility near Bedford and the National BVLOS Experimentation Centre (NBEC), which runs from there to Cranfield Airport, included some memorable examples of the variety of airspace users, from military aircraft to student pilots, and the unpredictability of the air traffic UAVs will have to contend with during BVLOS operations.

Electronic Conspicuity (EC) will definitely be required, although we don’t know yet how effective this can be in mitigating collision risks, he said. But in aviation it’s difficult to guarantee that everybody will comply with Electronic Conspicuity mandates at all times (not to mention birds), so Detect and Avoid (DAA) capability will be inevitably required for last-resort tactical airspace deconfliction.

Radar can be part of the solution to detect airspace users that do not use EC. In automotive Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), radar already has a track record as an obstacle detection technology. As Steve Clark’s presentation for Cambridge Sensoriis showed, the technology is mature enough to miniaturise radar-based DAA solutions to determine the location and relative velocity of obstacles in the flight path of UAVs. As a localisation technology, he also demonstrated how ground-based secondary radars can enable drone landing with inch-perfect precision.

Command and Control

Further presentations pieced together the multiple layers of communications required for 99.999% available Command and Control (C2), through terrestrial, satellite, peer-to-peer links, or high-altitude platform stations (HAPS).

Neal Unitt-Jones from Stratospheric Platforms Ltd Platforms described their HAPS platform in development and the potential connectivity gaps it can fill when it becomes commercially available. Although HAPS have not seen widespread adoption so far, Neal made the case that this would change with the power density of liquid hydrogen being key to their techno-commercial success.

Dave Pankhurst described how, in the last few years, drones have become a key area of focus for BT Group. This is clear from the involvement in the Future Flight Challenge and investment in leading UTM providers such as Altitude Angel. Ofcom’s announcement to enable 4G and 5G to be used for drones has given a boost to this, and BT has launched a drone e-sim on the back of this to tackle the key issues of base station interference and coverage.

Jon Holmes from Inmarsat talked about the role of satellite communications for both C2 and payload communications. He talked about the technology journey of miniaturisation from early large satellite terminals installed on general aviation to the innovative low SWaP-C hybrid UAV terminal being developed with TTP.

Steve Hutt rounded off the talks with a presentation on uAvionix Corporation’s low SWaP-C UAS C2 systems, which demonstrate the benefits of integrating L-band SATCOM, terrestrial C-band, and 4G connectivity. Built on these, the C2 Communication Service Provider (C2CSP) model provides simple access to resilient multi-datalink C2.

The US state of North Dakota, through its Vantis programme, is developing C2CSP infrastructure and business models to offer a “state service” that BVLOS drone operators can subscribe to, instead of each having to buy, build and operate their own dedicated C2 ground infrastructure.

Will BVLOS fly?

Much of the discussion during the day focused on commercial applications and the challenges inconspicuous and uncooperative airspace users present to BVLOS operations.

If not last-mile delivery to your front door – owing to the safety challenges presented by, never mind by aircraft, but by inconspicuous and uncooperative humans – what will be the first commercial use cases for BVLOS?

Another recurring question was: Until fully capable DAA solutions exist and have the backing of regulators, what will be the role of Electronic Conspicuity and airspace licensing in enabling BVLOS?

“If we can unlock regulation to enable BVLOS in time, we could see tens of thousands of commercial drones in markets such as long linear inspection, agriculture, or uncrewed long-distance cargo delivery”, said Vidhya Sridhar, TTP plc’s Autonomous Technology Lead. “That is why it is important for the industry to work with regulators to influence and put in place the right set of enablers.”

Find out more

To find out more about our work with UAVs and Autonomous Technology or to continue this discussion, get in touch.