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Program offers free advice to photonics firms

BIRMINGHAM, England – Aston University is again offering free support and guidance to businesses focusing on one of the fastest-growing research and technology areas in the UK: photonics.

The £600,000 (about $958,000) project, the second phase of a government-funded initiative, is open to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the West Midlands area of western central England working in such photonics-related industries as telecommunications, data storage, optical imaging, medical diagnostics, fiber optics and lasers. It is designed to help raise awareness of how photonics can fundamentally change established technologies while also helping to improve business growth and manufacturing productivity.

“Aston’s Institute of Photonic Technologies is a world-recognized center of excellence and one of the largest research groups in photonics in the UK,” said professor Sergei Turitsyn of the university’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. “This funding for Phase II of the project will enable us to transfer our expertise to local SMEs and offer them the technical support required to utilize this innovative technology and help their business to develop.”

Under Phase I of the project, knowledge transfer advice was provided to 60 businesses involved in developing new fiber optic technologies. This latest phase will provide additional technical support and will enable more knowledge-transfer activities. The second phase has secured £295,245 (about $472,000) from the West Midlands European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), an amount that Aston will match.

“Through this project, we are able to help businesses work together and test out new technologies to identify cost savings and help establish brand-new products that will boost profits, support longevity of our regional businesses and help strengthen the local economy,” said Norman Price, deputy chairman of the West Midlands ERDF local management committee. “Grasping such new technological opportunities is a fundamental basis for economic growth.”

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