2016 Swan Medal and prize of the Institute of Physics

Dr Graeme Malcolm, M Squared Lasers, for his role in founding M Squared Lasers, and his contribution to the design and manufacture of transformative award-winning photonics products.

Photo of Graeme Malcolm

Dr Graeme Malcolm is a leading expert in the commercialisation of photonics. Through his research, the design of innovative products, and the creation of high-growth companies, he has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to commercialise novel science.

Malcolm has played a pivotal role in creating two multi-million pound companies. Together, they generate more than £300m and employ around 150 high-level graduates and PhDs, designing more than 25 world-class products and exporting high-value laser systems all over the world.

Malcolm’s passion for photonics began at Strathclyde University, where he completed a first-class honours degree in laser physics and optoelectronics followed by award-winning PhD research into compact solid-state laser sources.

By 2006, he co-founded his second company, M Squared Lasers – now one of the UK’s highest-growth technology companies. Here, he built a team of more than 70 staff specialising in the development and manufacture of high-performance lasers for aiding research into quantum technologies, chemical sensing and biophotonics. A notable breakthrough was SolsTiS, a customer-focused innovation using novel physics to create continuous-wave and tunable laser light on an unparalleled small scale. This revolutionary laser toolkit is helping scientists explore new phenomena in quantum and material science – the world’s most accurate clocks, the first demonstration of teleportation of information, single-pixel cameras, antimatter experimentation and spacecraft ion drives.

Malcolm is active in pursuing the commercialisation of UK photonics research – his own and others – ensuring it has impact on the global stage. The M Squared Innovation Group alone has completed more than 100 projects with upwards of £15 m in funding research over the past five years and has secured 196 patents. Malcolm is well known to both Scottish and UK governments and recognised as a key influencer. He tirelessly, and successfully, campaigned in support of the creation of the £270 m UK Quantum Technologies Network.

For his services to science and innovation, Malcolm received an OBE in 2014.