Laser centre based at University of Strathclyde fired up with £6.5m in funding

Scottish laser facility the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics is to receive £6.5 million in funding over the next five years.

Recognised as a world-class centre of excellence, the Glasgow-based facility develops light-driven technologies for industry across a wide range of sectors, including security and defence, healthcare, life sciences, renewable energy and communications.

Fraunhofer’s world-leading scientists have been helping companies in Scotland, and beyond, to develop and bring products to market over the last nine years.

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The Scottish Government and economic development agency Scottish Enterprise have made a financial commitment to continue funding the centre’s activities.

Scottish business minister Ivan McKee on his visit to the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics in Glasgow. Picture: Jamie Simpson

This core funding, announced today by business and trade minister Ivan McKee, will enable the purchase of cutting-edge equipment and doctorate level student training. The latter is seen as a crucial part of the Fraunhofer model and both are essential components in delivering next generation products and processes.

McKee said: “The funding will support the third phase of the centre’s world-class research and innovation activities and is another step towards the Scottish Government’s target of growing business enterprise R&D [research and development] in Scotland to £1.8 billion by 2025. In the longer term we want to boost Scotland’s innovation performance to match the levels of the best performing countries worldwide.”

Fraunhofer is the name given to a network of specialist research centres across Europe, all working on behalf of industry and named after the German physicist, Joseph von Fraunhofer.

Housed in the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre, the Centre for Applied Photonics is the first of its kind in the UK. Since its inception it has become a significant player delivering more than 180 projects with 100 companies, typically producing pre-production prototypes and validating novel technology.

A recent independent assessment found the economic impact of Fraunhofer in Scotland to be substantial, supporting hundreds of jobs and boosting company turnover in the hundreds of millions.

Linda Hanna, managing director at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Nine years ago, Fraunhofer chose Scotland as the location for its first UK research centre, and since then it’s become an established and respected asset that helps Scottish businesses harness innovation for their development and growth.

“Scottish Enterprise is pleased to continue support for Fraunhofer, with £7.6m of Scottish Enterprise funding provided since it opened in Scotland in 2012.

“This latest funding will help to unlock even more opportunities for companies to develop new products and processes for global markets, and we look forward to working with Simon and his team to achieve this.”

Sir Jim McDonald, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, added: “As a leading technological university, Strathclyde is proud of its close relationship with the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics.

“This funding boost is recognition by the Scottish Government of the importance of this centre of excellence, one of the jewels in the Glasgow City Innovation District. It also recognises the role our strategic collaboration plays in working with industrial partners to develop enabling technologies across a range of sectors that provide innovative solutions to global challenges and support and grow the economy.”

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