ESP KTN has been helping the Technology Strategy Board investigate potential cases for Technology Innovation Centres in our domain: Photonics and Sensor Systems. TSB has launched a £200m+ programme to create a network of world-leading TICs to transform the UK’s capability for innovation in specific technology areas. Sensor Systems and Photonics are two of ten candidates. Three will be selected.
Working with the relevant business community, a clearer picture is emerging of the challenges in taking the UK’s world class sensing and related technologies through to commercialisation. A Sensor Systems TIC could be one way of unlocking this potential.
A consultation workshop in July drew participation from across industry and academia with over 100 attendees was held, followed by one to one interviews with key organisations, and an industry focus group also met. The KTN has been very pleased with the level and detail of response.
We now better understand the challenges of developing prototypes, integrating complementary technologies, demonstrating applications in real environments and qualifying their technology for use by those further along the supply chain.
Next is to identify specific big challenges or opportunities that a TIC could focus on for greatest impact. Consultation continues, but already a good body of evidence has been gathered, showing that investment in the area would be valuable.
Photonics is a high growth industry world-wide, and underpins many global markets. Two consultation exercises have been undertaken so far with 105 attendees and 140 online responses. Following these activities a summary report was placed on _connect.
A degree of consensus is emerging about the role that a Photonics TIC would play in the UK photonics community, with a draft plan as to what a TIC could prioritise.
Photonics, now designated as a Key Enabling Technology by the European Commission, is anticipated to be the subject of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the Horizon 2020 programme that will replace Framework 7 in 2014. This will cover many of the relevant technology areas.
The UK photonics community has responded enthusiastically to the opportunities presented. A deeper consultation will determine the need for and scope of a TIC in this field, and which application areas it would have most impact. The exercise is also clarifying a number of potential opportunities for support, should a TIC prove not to be the right answer to the question.