Awards for physics-based innovation in 2014

8 July 2014

Four companies receive Innovation Awards from the Institute of Physics (IOP) today, Tuesday 8 July, in recognition of success that they have built on the commercial application of physics.

Innovation awards 2013

The companies are being awarded for, respectively, a low-powered, fast and wireless CO2 gas sensor; an acousto-optical solution for the modification of fibre lasers in manufacturing processes; the unprecedented use of low-irradiation fuel from a shut-down nuclear reactor to extend the life of another; and the development of a highly precise missile.

Glasgow’s Gas Sensing Solutions Ltd has met the increasing need in a wide range of industries, including the medical, horticultural and recreational industries, to monitor CO2 levels for human health and environmental reasons, by introducing a low-powered, fast and wireless CO2 gas sensor.

The device has generated more than £1 million in profit and created a dozen jobs for the company since being introduced three years ago.

With laser beams integral to the manufacturing of consumer items like smartphones, Torquay’s Gooch & Housego has received an Innovation Award from the IOP for their development of the Fibre-Q product line which allows their clients greater versatility in the uses they put lasers to.

Although fibre lasers have been rapidly adopted in manufacturing processes, the lasers’ tiny diameter has made modification for improvements in production processes problematic.

Gooch & Housego’s acousto-optical solution means a beam of laser light can be deflected, amplitude-modulated, frequency-shifted or the wavelength filtered with precise electronic control.

The innovation has already generated millions in profit and created 23 jobs since the product was introduced five years ago.

Magnox Ltd’s team of physicists in Oldbury Naite, working on Anglesey’s Wylfa Nuclear Power Station, have received an Innovation Award from the IOP for their unprecedented ‘Inter-reactor Transfer’ of low-irradiation fuel.

The team’s work to continue the generation of power at Reactor 1 by using the low-irradiation fuel remains in the shut-down Reactor 2 has led to three more years of low-carbon power generation, saved 157 jobs from redundancy, and earned the company more than £100 million.

A missile described by Defence Minister Philip Dunne as having “unrivalled precision” and being “key to protecting our forces” has won Stevenage’s MBDA Missile Systems an Innovation Award.

MBDA developed the Dual Mode Seeker for Brimstone to aid ground attack against static or fast-moving targets where low collateral damage was paramount.

The missile, which combined two guidance modes for precision, gave the RAF a unique capability and won the company plaudits from politicians and military users, while creating 180 jobs and earning the company more than £100 million.

Dr Frances Saunders, President of the Institute of Physics, said, “The successful application of physics creates businesses and industries that meet the widest range of needs – from precision manufacturing and energy generation to devices designed to help us better understand our environment, and those which aid our defence.

“We have another remarkable selection of winners this year and I wish them all continuing success.”

The IOP Innovation Awards are a unique celebration of commercial success built on physics. For more information, go to

All four winning companies will attend an awards ceremony later in the year.

To find out more about how physics is driving economic growth across the UK, including a regional breakdown, see The Importance of Physics to Economic Growth (PDF, 2 MB)

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