Scotland business

'Groundbreaking' sensor project launched

Firefighter using infrared camera Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Researchers aim to produce materials that are key to manufacturing goods that use sensors, such as infrared cameras

Scottish companies and academics are to collaborate on developing next-generation sensing technologies under a "groundbreaking" initiative.

The research and development project is being backed by Scottish Enterprise and Censis, the Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems.

Researchers will work on producing materials that are key to manufacturing a variety of goods that use sensors.

They range from asthma inhalers to infrared cameras.

Project backers said it would place Scotland at the forefront of the £7bn global sensors and imaging systems market.

The initiative will be supported by almost £6m in funding over the next three years.

'Cutting-edge sensors'

The participating firms are Cascade Technologies, Compound Semiconductor Technologies Global, Gas Sensing Solutions Ltd and Amethyst Research Ltd.

They will combine their expertise with the research division of electronics and nanoscale engineering at the University of Glasgow.

Working at locations across central Scotland, each company will produce different products relevant to their specific end markets. According to the project organisers, they will not compete with each other.

The initiative will give researchers access to a type of semiconductor that organisers say will allow the firms to create "cutting-edge, quality mid-IR (infrared) sensors in high volumes with greater sensitivity, lower cost, reduced energy use and a longer lifespan than existing products".

These types of sensors cover laser applications, ranging from military detection to medical sensing.

The companies are funding the project to the tune of £2.8m, with Scottish Enterprise putting up £2.6m. Censis are providing £241,000, plus capital equipment.

The firms are aiming cumulatively to boost their turnover by £135m over the next 10 years, and cut their production costs by up to 50%,

'Momentous impact'

Censis chief executive Ian Reid said: "This project will have a momentous impact on Scottish industry and is a game-changer for collaborative R&D.

"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, allowing further innovation and collaboration.

"Scotland has the potential to be at the forefront of the global sensors and imaging systems sector, and this project could make that a reality.

"We have the opportunity to innovate continually from the design and growth of the materials, right through to the wide variety of products which can be manufactured and their extensive applications.

"Collaboration between these companies and the academic community will put both of these groups at the forefront of global trends and in a unique position to access new markets, ultimately creating a globally competitive supply chain of businesses."

Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson said: "This groundbreaking project is further evidence of Scotland's global competitiveness.

"The companies involved are great examples of the innovative supply chain in Scotland, highlighting why we continue to be an attractive location for technology manufacturing investment."

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