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UK university dispenses photonics advice

14 Nov 2012

UK Midlands entrepreneurs to receive £600,000 business boost from Aston University.

Aston University, based in Birmingham, UK, has announced that is to offer free support and guidance to local businesses that wish to develop photonic technologies, such as fiber optics and laser sensors.

The £600,000 project, which is open to SMEs in the West Midlands of England, is designed to help raise awareness of how photonics can fundamentally change existing technologies of companies and help improve business growth and manufacturing productivity.

Norman Price, Deputy Chair of the West Midlands ERDF Local Management Committee said, “I am really pleased that we can offer additional support through the European Regional Development Fund to phase two of this project which will help businesses in photonic technologies to take forward significant business opportunities.”

“By this project we are able to help businesses work together and test out new technologies to identify cost savings and help establish new products that will boost profits, support longevity of our regional businesses and help strengthen the local economy. Grasping such new technological opportunities is a fundamental basis for economic growth.”

Professor Sergei Turitsyn, from the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Aston University, commented, “Aston’s Institute of Photonic Technologies is a world-recognized center of excellence and one of the largest research groups in photonics in the UK. This funding for phase two of the project will enable us to transfer our expertise to local SMEs and offer them the technical support required to utilize this innovative technology and help their business to develop.”

The project is funded by the West Midlands European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). Phase two of the project has secured almost £300,000 of funding from ERDF, which will be matched by Aston University itself.

The recently-completed phase one of the project saw 60 businesses involved in developing new fiber-optic technologies and offered innovative knowledge transfer. This latest phase will provide further technical support, such as bespoke demonstrator units, and enable further knowledge transfer activities.

Enterprise Center

In a related announcement, Aston and nearby Warwick University, have been selected to host a new Enterprise Research Center that will help develop understanding of the factors affecting business investment, performance and growth. The new £2.9 million center is set to become a national and international focal point for research, knowledge and expertise on small and medium-sized businesses.

A key objective of the Center, which launches on 1 January 2013, will be to provide policy-makers and SME managers with the evidence they need to make good decisions for growth and development in the UK. It will exploit and develop existing knowledge base and data resources, strengthen the links between evidence and practice, and inform Government policy and business practice for SMEs.

It is a joint collaboration between the UK Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the British Bankers Association (BBA), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Technology Strategy Board.

About the Author

Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org

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