Photonics funded £31million from EPSRC

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A set of Prosperity Partnerships announced by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) will receive £31million in funding. This will be matched by a further £36m from partner organisations and £11m from university funds.

As part of the £78m investment, 10 universities will lead on 11 projects that range from future networks for digital infrastructure to offshore wind. As part of their work, the universities will collaborate with organisations such as Siemens, BP and Unilever, as well as companies like M Squared Lasers and Rockley Photonics.

Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, said: “This investment will ensure the work of our universities continues to have positive impact around the world and maintains the UK’s global leadership in science and innovation.”

Meanwhile, a further EPSRC investment of £60m will enable 33 universities to advance their Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAA). According to EPSRC, IAAs offer institutions the flexibility to operate tailored schemes that help increase the likelihood of impact from their research.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC chief executive, said: “These new EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships and IAA investments will provide the right conditions in which new technologies and products can be developed more quickly. In turn, this will return social and economic benefits and ensure the UK continues to be one of the best places in the world to research, innovate and grow business.”

In one of the Prosperity Partnerships, Rockley Photonics will work with the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) to perform research into how silicon photonics technology can improve data centre communication networks and support an integrated photonics platform for broader mass market applications.

Dr Andrew Rickman, Rockley’s CEO and chairman, said: “Research into this area is progressing quickly and, in the near future, this game-changing, disruptive technology will have a huge impact on the architecture of large data centres; improve the power and compute capacity of new consumer devices; and provide robust sensing solutions in a variety of industry sectors, such autonomous vehicles and biomedical. All this at dramatically lower cost and with considerably less power requirements.”

Amongst the other Prosperity Partnerships, Lancaster University is to work with BT and the universities of Surrey, Cambridge and Bristol to develop a next generation converged digital infrastructure. Meanwhile, the University of St Andrews and M Squared Lasers will develop a suite of compact super-resolution microscopes for pathology and disease management.

And in a further Partnership, the University of Warwick, Jaguar Land Rover, Dynex Semiconductor and STMicroelectronics will be addressing challenges in vehicle electrification.

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