Innovation Centre set to boost industrial engagement

Innovation Centre set to boost industrial engagement

The University of Glasgow has received funding to create a world-leading sensor and imaging systems centre which will offer major benefits to the Scottish economy.

The Scottish Funding Council has pledged £10m over the next five years to support the Innovation Centre – Sensor and Imaging Systems (IC-SIS), which will engage in industrially collaborative projects to develop new technologies and form links with industry to bring innovative products to market. 11 other Scottish universities and 22 industry partners are supporting IC-SIS from the outset.

The IC-SIS is one of three Innovation Centres officially announced today (Tuesday 23 April) by First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond MSP at an event at the South Glasgow Hospitals Campus. The others are the University of Glasgow’s Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre and the University of Edinburgh’s Digital Health and Care Innovation Centre.

IC-SIS will deliver 150 collaborative research and development projects and bring new products to market over the course of its initial funding period.  Economic projections suggest an investment of £10m from SFC will encourage industry to invest in innovation; the work of the Centre could add between £374m and £596m to the Scottish economy.

Sensor systems play an increasingly ubiquitous role in modern life. Mass-produced sensors are found in every modern automobile, for example, and in many mobile electronic devices for purposes such as noise cancellation and navigation. Estimates place the number of wireless connected devices currently in use around the world at 10 billion, with projections suggesting the number will reach 50 billion within 10 years. Specialist high-value sensors and imaging systems are routinely used in scientific equipment oil and gas recovery, machine tools, and environmental monitoring. In medical equipment, imaging sensors can facilitate early medical interventions by screening for disease even before symptoms become apparent.

IC-SIS will build on the University of Glasgow’s existing expertise in the field, and will advance the successful work of the Scottish Sensor Systems Centre (S3C), a collaborative programme funded by SFC and led by the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen, to support small scale collaborative projects between academia and industry in sensors and sensor systems.

Professor Steve Beaumont, Vice-Principal Research and Enterprise at the University, said, “Scotland has a very strong high-tech sector in areas such as aerospace, energy and biotechnology, all of which rely on advanced sensing, sensor systems and processing to develop new products and secure their economic growth.

“Over the last 15 years the complexity of sensor systems has grown, creating challenges for traditional product development models, but the potential to overcome these problems by integrating Scotland’s research base with the sensor industry is remarkably good. Our Universities and research institutes have international reputations for conducting high quality research and IC-SIS will have the scale required to deliver a wide range of research projects.

“Our aim is for IC-SIS to become the predominant source of expertise in sensor and imaging system research and development in Scotland and beyond. We’ve already made inroads into partnerships with a number of public and private organisations who have identified projects which would benefit from input from the IC-SIS.”

IC-SIS has received industrial support from large multinationals including Freescale, Texas Instruments, IBM, SELEX ES, ST Microelectronics, Thales Optronics, BAE Systems, BP, and FMC Technologies. Other confirmed industry partners include Scottish and Southern Energy, and Scottish Water, as well as globally leading companies Optos and Toshiba Medical, and high-technology Scottish SMEs Gas Sensing Solutions Ltd.

The First Minister said, “Scotland has always been a world leader in innovation and this new funding of £30 million, made through the Scottish Funding Council, for the innovation centres reinforces the Scottish Government’s commitment to Science and technology and secures Scotland’s place as a world leader in life sciences, innovative technology, ideas and development.

“This is an exciting new collaboration between all parts of public life, with Scottish industry, Higher Education Institutions, Multinationals, our small and medium sized enterprises and our public sector partners working together to provide solutions to demand-led problems facing industry in Scotland by supporting innovation for future growth.

“Innovation Centres offer game changing opportunities for collaboration between our academic and business base. The investment and partnership model is unique and their potential for growth is huge.”

IC-SIS will employ 12 staff by the end of year one of its operation, reaching 27 after five years, excluding academic staff.

Collaborating on the IC-SIS project with the University of Glasgow are the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Highlands and Islands, Stirling, Strathclyde, West of Scotland, Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow Caledonian, Heriot Watt, and Robert Gordon Universities.

Other organisations lending their support include the British Geological Survey and a number of Scottish Research Pools [Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA), Scottish University Physics Alliance (SUPA), Scottish Imaging Network (SINAPSE), and the Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Northern Research Partnerships in Engineering (ERPem, GRPE, NRPE).

Ben Crowther
Ben Crowther
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