Funding boost sees Glasgow sensors spin-out take on skilled staff

A Glasgow-based sensor technology business is creating highly skilled jobs as it ramps up production on the back of a seven-figure funding grant

Novosound was founded by Dave Hughes (pictured) and Richard Cooper. Picture: Contributed
Novosound was founded by Dave Hughes (pictured) and Richard Cooper. Picture: Contributed

Novosound, which is based at Biocity, the business incubator located on the M8 just outside Glasgow, was the first spin-out company from the University of the West of Scotland, raising £1.5 million at its seed investment round in April 2018. It has developed a “ground-breaking” technique to mass-manufacture printable ultrasound sensors.

The company has now received a £1m grant from Scottish Enterprise as part of a £2m project that will rapidly scale up its research and development (R&D) activity and see it recruit new, skilled staff.

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Bosses plan to create 17 new positions for people with expertise in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (Stem) disciplines to accelerate R&D, developing hi-tech sensors for industrial and medical markets. The move should bring staff numbers to more than 30.

Novosound, which was founded by Dave Hughes and Richard Cooper, is said to have revolutionised ultrasound technology, which had remained largely unchanged for 40 years, by replacing conventional sensor materials with a flexible piezoelectric thin-film.

Hughes said: “The global opportunity for Novosound is enormous with the ultrasonic market now valued at $45 billion [£35bn] and growing at over 10 per cent every year and this funding will allow us to scale up and significantly accelerate our R&D and production activity.

“As well as bolstering our existing R&D team, it allows us to create 17 new highly skilled jobs for technical people with Stem skills which we are looking to fill in the coming months. Currently, our R&D team is 50 per cent female and we hope to build on this with the new recruits.”

Medical ultrasound technology was pioneered in Glasgow 60 years ago by Professor Ian Donald who developed the tech for use in medical diagnostics, utilising industrial ultrasound equipment from near-by Babcock-Wilcox in Renfrew – now Doosan Babcock.

Hughes added: “It is exciting that we are based just a few miles away from where Professor Ian Donald pioneered diagnostic ultrasound technology in the 1950s.

“At the time, he created truly revolutionary technology and our team is motivated to build on Scotland’s history of invention in medical imaging and ultrasound.

“Whilst ultrasound is best known for its use in hospitals around the world, it is also the go-to tool for non-destructive testing in numerous sectors including oil & gas, aerospace, and nuclear.

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“For example, the current, and dated, sensor technology can only operate at low temperatures and therefore, the oil & gas industry alone incurs costs of billions of dollars every year because they have to shut down refineries to allow the testing to be carried out.”