‘Groundbreaking’ R&D project to boost manufacturing

Censis chief Ian Reid hailed the project as a 'game-changer' for R&D. Picture: John Devlin
Censis chief Ian Reid hailed the project as a 'game-changer' for R&D. Picture: John Devlin
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A quartet of Scottish manufacturers is in line for a £135 million sales boost thanks to the roll out of a “groundbreaking” research and development (R&D) project.

Four firms and academia are to join forces in the first initiative of its kind in Scotland, which is backed by Scottish Enterprise (SE) and Censis, the Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensors and Imaging Systems.

It aims to put Scotland centre-stage in the £7 billion market for global sensors and imaging systems by sharing expertise to help produce various goods that use sensors, from asthma inhalers to infrared cameras. The move comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Monday announced plans to establish a Scottish manufacturing centre of excellence, aimed at reviving the sector after a series of setbacks, and backed by £70m of investment.

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The R&D initiative is to “onshore” 41 highly skilled research and manufacturing jobs from Asia, and involves lead company partner Cascade Technologies, Compound Semiconductor Technologies Global, Gas Sensing Solutions and Amethyst Research, plus the research division of electronics and nanoscale engineering at the University of Glasgow.

They are to combine their expertise on different aspects of manufacturing next-generation sensing technologies to create cutting-edge sensors with greater sensitivity, lower cost and energy use, and a longer lifespan than existing products.

It is hoped that by taking part the companies will cut their production costs by up to 50 per cent, as well as deliver £56m to the Scottish economy over the next ten years.

The project is backed by funding of £5.6m, comprising £2.8m from the companies taking part, £2.6m from SE’s collaborative R&D support, and £241,000 plus capital equipment provided by Censis.

Ian Reid, chief executive of the latter organisation, said the initiative is a “game-changer” for collaborative R&D.

He added: “Not only will it underpin the development of Scotland’s sensors and imaging sector, which already accounts for £2.6bn in annual revenues, but it will also provide the academic community with access to cutting edge technology.”