The University of Greenwich scooped a nomination for one of the European Commission's IST (Information Society Technology) prize awards for its cutting-edge software designed to simulate evacuation procedures during emergencies.

Twenty bodies were selected, from over 400 entries from 28 countries, for this year's IST award, which recognises groundbreaking technologies from within the IT sector.

The cleverly named Exodus suite has been designed by the university's FSEG (Fire Safety Engineering Group) to try to predict human behaviour during real emergencies, such as fires. The virtual people, who carry out such normal human activities as returning to their desks for their handbag, react realistically to the heat, providing a useful virtual observation tool for architects and designers.

"Exodus software enables designers to test the safety of aircraft, building and ship designs before they are built, helping to prevent mistakes which could cost both lives and huge amounts of money," said Professor Ed Galea, director of the FSEG. "Our objective is to help design engineers save lives".

The university's software has already been used to design projects in 23 countries, from the Millennium Dome to the Sydney Olympic Stadium.

Other prize nominees include Appear Networks for delivery of wireless applications, Prous Science for its multilingual audio visual search system and Tadiran Spectralink for its wearable health system that monitors and automatically evaluates human vital signs.

The winners will exhibit their products at this year's IST event in Milan from 2-4 October, where three overall winners will be selected to receive the 200,000 euro (£140,000) prize fund.