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Photonics firms recognized by Queen’s Awards 2015

21 Apr 2015

Innovation and export awards for photonics companies across the UK.

This week around 150 UK businesses discovered that they have been granted a Queen’s Award in recognition of their contribution to the country’s enterprise. As with previous years, a good number of the winners are photonics-led businesses, with regular winner Renishaw being joined by a crop of new optical innovators.

This year’s winners are UK businesses deemed to be “leading the way in international trade, innovation and sustainable development in a broad range of sectors including car manufacturing, education, software design and fashion”.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said the Queen’s Awards scheme is the most prestigious business awards in the country and 2015 marks its 50th anniversary. Photonics companies recognized in the main two categories, International Trade and Innovation, included:

International Trade Award winners

Third Dimension Software's GapGun.

Third Dimension Software's GapGun.

Third Dimension Software, Bristol, which manufactures metrology products and services for non-contact laser, precision profile measurement solutions. The company’s GapGun uses optical triangulation technology to measure gaps, forms and features of surfaces rapidly and accurately.

GapGun applications range from seal gap checks to sharp edge measurement and it is typically used by the aerospace, automotive, turbine and energy industries.

Lumishore, Swansea, produces innovative, high output underwater LED lighting systems for the leisure marine industry. The company uses a combination of distribution and direct sales to reach its markets, such as shipyards, boat builders, dealers and consumers.

Cobalt Light Systems.

Cobalt Light Systems.

Cobalt Light Systems, Oxford, which develops laboratory instruments and spectroscopy systems predominantly for airport security and pharmaceutical quality control. The company has achieved overseas earnings growth of 1675% over the past three years, resulting in exports rising as a percentage of turnover from 56% to 71%.

The Tintometer, Amesbury, which was established in 1885, develops the Lovibond range of colour measuring instruments and water testing equipment and reagents. It has two distinct markets with 62% of its business in water analysis sales and 38% in colour measurement instruments. It has seen 160% growth in its overseas earnings over the past six years.

Innovation Award winners

Heraeus Noblelight, Hanau, Germany, which has developed an automated process for arc lamp manufacture. The process comprises single-piece flow production cells using proprietary auto-assembly equipment and is the first to automate specialized manual skills previously required for making satisfactory glass-to-metal seals.

Thermoteknix Systems.

Thermoteknix Systems.

Thermoteknix Systems, Cambridge, for developing a miniature, thermal-imaging camera that clips onto night- vision goggles. The fusion of thermal-imaging with image-intensification produces an innovative detection device that can operate in darkness and extremely low light conditions. The device is used by military, surveillance and others performing defence and security activities.

Elekta, Crawley, for developing a high-resolution, multi-leaf collimator, called Agility. Used within linear accelerators, it is said to be the world’s fastest and most accurate high-resolution beam-shaping system. It facilitates targeting of radiotherapy treatments, destroying tumours with minimal healthy tissue damage.

Renishaw's Resolute.

Renishaw's Resolute.

Renishaw, Wootton-under-Edge, for the development and manufacture of Resolute, a family of non-contact, optical position feedback devices. Resolute is said to enable a “step change” in the performance of motion control systems used in manufacturing and other environments.

Sir David McMurtry, Renishaw's Chairman and CEO, said: “Resolute is a phenomenal product that marries our years of experience and expertise in areas such as optics, high speed image processing, system engineering and precision manufacturing. I am proud of the achievements of the many people across the Renishaw Group who have worked tirelessly to produce a globally successful encoder product that is a world-first in its field.

“We won our first Queen's Award in 1979 for Export Achievement, and whilst we have been fortunate to have been recognised a further seventeen times over the years, to receive a Queen's Award is still very special as they continue to be regarded as the UK's most prestigious awards for recognising commercial and technological success.”

About the Author

Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org

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