Blantyre laser firm targets Far East after key Scots R&D project

The new products were developed as part of a collaborative project that began in Scotland four years ago. Picture: Nick McGowan-Lowe.
The new products were developed as part of a collaborative project that began in Scotland four years ago. Picture: Nick McGowan-Lowe.
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A Blantyre-based business at the cutting edge of semiconductor laser technology is targeting expansion in the Far East as it looks to harness China’s burgeoning demand for cable television.

CST Global, which has 66 staff, is eyeing the move following the development of a new range of telecommunications laser products.

The foundry service and manufacturer has developed what it says is a high-quality, cost-effective communications wavelength laser that enables the transfer of large amounts of data via optical fibres. Uses include bringing cable TV directly to households through fibre-to-the-home connectivity.

CST said demand for this type of product is rapidly growing in China, and it cited a recent report finding that the number of pay-TV subscribers in the country is expected to rise to 353 million by 2022.

The firm, which derives more than 90 per cent of its revenues from exports and has a sales presence in China, is also to target the data centres and autonomous vehicles markets, as it moves into the next stage of its development.

Thomas Slight, research engineer at CST Global, said: “China is a huge market for communications products. The number of new commercial and residential buildings requiring direct fibre connections for internet and television creates an opportunity for manufacturers like us.

“The challenge has always been that to compete in these markets requires manufacturing in high volumes at a price point that can be difficult to match. We’ve managed to achieve both as a result of this development programme, opening up a range of new markets, from data centres to autonomous vehicles – all massive growth areas.”

The new products were developed as part of a collaborative research and development (R&D) project that began in Scotland four years ago, supported by Censis – the Scottish innovation centre for sensor, imaging and internet of things technologies – and Scottish Enterprise.

CST was one of four manufacturers to take part in the initiative, billed as the first of its kind in Scotland, which saw firms work together on the production of materials integral to manufacturing goods that use sensors – from asthma inhalers to infrared cameras. To deliver the project, CST said it created six highly skilled roles, adding to its team of specialist engineers.

Slight said the initiative, backed by funding of almost £6 million, “gave us access to the expertise and materials required to develop the product at a competitive cost and high yield… it also meant we could develop it so that it is future-proofed”.

Censis chief executive Paul Winstanley said: “CST Global’s experience underlines what can be achieved through collaborative R&D. [In Scotland] we have the potential to be at the forefront of the global sensors and imaging systems sector, and this project is making that a reality.”