Manufacturing funding in the UK

Southampton, UK – The South East Photonics Network (SEPNET) welcomes the UK Government’s announcement of a state of the art manufacturing research center at the University of Southampton with a focus on photonics.

Southampton, UK – The South East Photonics Network (SEPNET) welcomes the UK Government’s announcement of a state of the art manufacturing research center at the University of Southampton with a focus on photonics. It is part of a £70million government investment into innovative manufacturing research centers announced last week by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson.

“This is a new type of funding which will take photonics research to commercial readiness, bridging the gap between scientific developments and industrial impact,” said John Lincoln from SEPNET. “It will generate
research projects that culminate in a working laboratory model of a manufacturing process, just one step away from an industrial pilot plant and ready to be scaled up by manufacturers.”

“This shows how seriously the government is taking photonics, an area in which the UK is already internationally recognized as a center of excellence. Now we need to develop our manufacturing skills so we can create end products using this technology and strengthen our ability to compete globally before other countries move ahead of us.”

“For example, there are currently exciting new developments in fiber optic manufacturing, where researchers are testing a new way of extruding optical fibers which will potentially be much cheaper than current methods of production. In the future fiber optics will be used in the aerospace sector, high power lasers for manufacturing and fiber to the home, and we need continued UK development in this area to complement and support our manufacturing industries.”

The UK photonics sector is financially strong despite the global recession, with companies announcing new international distribution deals and double-digit growth in 2009. There are over 200 organizations active in photonics in the South East and South West of England, ranging in size from leading defense company QinetiQ to smaller niche companies specializing in technologies such as LED eco-lighting and scientific and
industrial lasers.

John Lincoln from SEPNET will be available for comment at SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco from January 23-28, 2010 and can be contacted at the event on +44 7970 974120 or by emailing info@sepnet.net.

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