The University of Southampton

ORC wins part of £70 million boost for UK manufacturing

Published: 8 January 2010

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson today (7th January) announced government investment of £70 million in a series of state-of-the-art manufacturing research centres across the UK, one of the first of which is to be at the Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton.

The new EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) centres will assist UK businesses in developing the technology products of the future and help underpin the country’s manufacturing growth.

The Southampton centre will focus on photonics, the science and application of light using optical fibres to revolutionise the internet and telecommunications. Other centres at the universities of Loughborough and Brunel will concentrate on regenerative medicine and liquid metals.

The University of Southampton’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Don Nutbeam, said:

“UK universities conduct much of the research that underpins innovation in this country. This innovation, and its translation into practical outcomes, strengthens the ability of UK industry to compete globally.

“The University of Southampton has an excellent track record for working successfully with industry, and developing sustainable partnerships across a wide range of sectors.”

The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Photonics at the University of Southampton will work with industry to develop the next generation of fibre materials and technology platforms, train a new generation of engineers and fuel growth in photonics-related manufacturing.

Investment from EPSRC in the centre will total £4.7 million over a five-year period starting in March 2010. Thirteen industrial partners will contribute a further £4.6 million.

Professor David Payne, Director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton, commented: "Photonics at Southampton has benefited from sustained EPSRC funding over the last 40 years and has made a huge impact on areas as diverse as the internet, laser manufacturing, environmental sensing and the biosciences.

“With strong support from our local photonics cluster of ten companies and from companies throughout the UK, we welcome the opportunity to enhance our contributions to UK economic growth through this new initiative in Innovative Manufacturing Centres.”

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Don Nutbeam, added: “The technology that drives the internet was developed here at Southampton. Every time you use a mobile phone or an ATM you are again using technology developed at Southampton. But these innovations didn't happen overnight. It took long-term commitment and funding from the EPSRC and other funding agencies for the university-based research that led to this transforming technology.

“Sustained investment in university research, together with the enterprise culture that is evident at the University of Southampton, can deliver substantial economic returns.”

Announcing the launch of the centres, Lord Mandelson said: “A highly skilled, innovative manufacturing sector will be a vital part of Britain’s future economic growth. The £70 million funding I’m announcing today will see universities and businesses working together to pull through academic research to commercial products. With more investment to bring these two sectors together we can strengthen our future innovation and growth.”

Professor David Delpy, chief executive of EPSRC, which is the UK’s largest government agency for scientific research and skills, said: “EPSRC’s new manufacturing centres will focus on areas of pioneering research that has the potential to create new industries and new jobs for the UK.”

He continued: “They will save lives through advances in regenerative medicine, develop recycled forms of metal which are environmentally friendly, and harness light to revolutionise the internet and telecommunications.”


Notes for editors

1.About EPSRC Centres for Innovative Manufacturing

The new EPSRC Centres for Innovative Manufacturing are part of a totally new approach to maximise the impact of innovative research for the UK, supporting existing industries, and opening up new industries and markets in growth areas.

Each centre will receive five years’ funding to retain staff, develop collaborations, carry out feasibility studies, and support up to two research projects. There is a clear business need for each centre and EPSRC support will be used as a platform from which the centres can secure further investment from industry and other funders.

EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Photonics

University of Southampton


◦This centre will work with industry to develop the next generation of optical fibre materials and technology platforms, train a new generation of engineers and fuel growth in photonics-related manufacturing.

◦Investment from EPSRC will total £4.7 million over a five-year period starting in March and 13 industrial partners will contribute a further £4.6 million.

About the University of Southampton

The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for research and scholarship across a wide range of subjects in engineering, science, social sciences, health, arts and humanities.

With over 22,000 students, around 5000 staff, and an annual turnover of almost £400 million, the University of Southampton is one of the country's top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine. We combine academic excellence with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to research, supporting a culture that engages and challenges students and staff in their pursuit of learning.

The University is also home to a number 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 Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute.

About the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

EPSRC is the largest UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences, investing more than £850 million a year in a broad range of subjects – from mathematics to materials science, and from information technology to structural engineering.

EPSRC is pioneering research and skills for our future.


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