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UK photonics companies honoured with IOP awards

Five companies have been presented with innovation awards by the UK Institute of Physics (IOP), three of which are imaging and photonics companies. The awards, presented by the UK government’s Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, were for firms developing innovative, physics-based technology.

The winners were: Simpleware of Exeter for its software that converts 3D images into computer models; lidar system manufacturer Zephir, based in Ledbury; and the Glasgow branch of Coherent for its ultrafast laser technology. The other winners were Elektra, which produces a beam shaping device employed in radiotherapy, and Tracerco, which develops a gamma-radiation tool for measuring pipe work in the oil and gas industry.

The winners reflect the breadth, importance and level of sophistication that constitute the UK’s physics-based businesses. Dr Frances Saunders, president of the IOP, said in a statement at the awards ceremony: ‘Nearly 10 per cent of the UK’s economic output is due to physics-based businesses like those being celebrated here tonight. These companies show how the innovative application of physics research can create both world-changing technologies and successful businesses.’

The Chameleon laser system from Coherent Scotland has been awarded for its contribution to medical science over the past ten years. The laser has helped make imaging more efficient, affordable and accurate, most notably contributing to huge advancements in the research of neurodegenerative diseases. The product has also created around 100 jobs for the company.

Zephir’s lidar system is designed to measure wind speed remotely. It’s a product that has been used to great effect by both on and off shore wind farm companies, while reducing the costs in manufacturing meteorological towers in order to check the suitability of a site. Since its release seven years ago Zephir has generated millions of pounds in profit through its work with renewable resource companies.

Simpleware’s computer-aided engineering software is used by blue chip companies and numerous research institutes, including NASA, to improve their design process.

The IOP Innovation Awards are free to enter where the winners are granted a space to display their product at the institute’s public exhibition. A video profile for the product is also commissioned and can be viewed here:


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