The University of Southampton

From nano to mega, the ORC showcases it all

Published: 23 March 2007

On Thursday 22 March the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton held its third Industrial Showcase Day. This special event was dedicated to innovation in photonics, the science of light and its applications.

The UK is at the forefront of photonics research, and this event emphasised the benefits of successful partnerships between academia and business and the significance of the research councils in making cutting-edge research happen.

The day heard from leading figures such as Professor Phil Sutton, Director General Research and Technology, Ministry of Defence, who commended the achievements of the ORC in contributing to the success of the UK photonics industry. His stimulating talk highlighted the contribution of photonics research to advances in security and defence.

Dr Alastair Glass, Deputy Minister for Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation, demonstrated the commercialisation of photonics in Ontario. Dr Glass offered an insight into the way that Ontario has successfully connected research to business by accurately understanding the needs of society and end-users. The policies and practices of Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation have enabled a culture of innovation to be built.

Some of the University’s experts in photonics illustrated the new research directions of the ORC, including next-generation optical fibres, new semiconductor materials, cutting-edge ultra-fast lasers, nanophotonics, sensors and glass moulding, all of which are currently being explored by world-leading teams at the ORC.

One of the key messages from the day highlighted the importance of the support received by the ORC since the fire from sponsors and research councils, in particular the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). As one of the largest recipients of EPSRC funding in the country, the ORC’s research base has continued to grow and flourish. The resilience and flexibility of EPSRC funding since the fire has enabled the sustained transformation of research into real products, from lab to marketplace.

‘The transfer of technology and ideas is an integral part of our research mission at the ORC and we work hard on engaging with research councils and business in order to achieve this,’ Professor David Payne, Director of the ORC explains. ‘Our research often leads to exciting technologies that find many uses in industry and, as a result, create huge benefits for our society, and in particular for UK industry. Our relationships with research councils are key to securing these outcomes.’

The event brought together senior representatives from UK companies, ORC spin-outs and prestigious organisations including the EPSRC and the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) in what was an exciting and informative event.

Representatives from University spin-outs and ORC researchers showcased their work during a lunchtime poster exhibition.

To end the day guests took a tour of the ORC’s unique, world-class laboratory facilities and visited the site of the new Mountbatten clean room complex where construction is already well ahead of schedule. Once complete, this new state-of-the-art research facility will help sustain Southampton’s leading position in this vital field.

Notes to Editors:

1) The Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton has a long history of innovation resulting in new markets and successful industrial application. From the earliest work on optical fibres the ORC has engaged in technology transfer, leading to nine photonics companies based in the Southampton area with roots in the ORC. The ORC routinely engages in market-led research, funded by the EPSRC, DTI or commercial contract. The large number of academic staff who regularly participate in industrial engagements or spin-outs makes the ORC a centre of excellence in technology transfer as well as photonics research.

2) The Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (CEI) at the University of Southampton provides a framework of support for business at all levels to engage with research staff, and for academics to explore commercial applications of their work.

3) The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. It is one of the UK's top 10 research universities, offering first-rate opportunities and facilities for study and research across a wide range of subjects in humanities, health, science and engineering. The University has around 20,000 students and over 5000 staff. Its annual turnover is in the region of £310 million. The University of Southampton is one of the country's top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine, and has a strong enterprise agenda. It is home to a range of world-leading research centres, including the Optoelectronics Research Centre, the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, and the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies.

Posted by Marketing Officer on 23 March 07

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