Vince Cable congratulates Innovation Award winners

6 November 2013

This evening, Wednesday 6 November, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Right Honourable Dr Vince Cable MP, will congratulate all five winners of the Institute of Physics’ (IOP) Innovation Awards 2013 at an exhibition in Parliament.

Each company is being rewarded for an innovative, physics-based technological advance that has spurred their company on to great economic success.

Dr Cable will say, "I would like to congratulate all of the winners of this year’s IOP Innovation Awards. The UK is home to some of the most innovative businesses in the world especially in sectors such as manufacturing and telecommunications which draw on disciplines like engineering which have a base in physics.

"Our pioneering businesses are delivering sustained success."

The winners reflect the breadth, importance and level of sophistication that constitute the UK’s physics-based businesses.

With ultrafast lasers for medical imaging, gamma-radiation for measurements in the oil and gas industry, ground-based tools to predict wind strength on turbine sites, safer and more efficient radiotherapy techniques, and software for computer-aided engineering, these innovations have the potential to benefit all of us.

Dr Frances Saunders, President of the Institute of Physics, adds, “Nearly ten 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.”   

Starting with the most northern company, Coherent Scotland Ltd in Glasgow receive an Innovation Award for the development of a laser system that is transforming doctors’ and biologists’ ability to take quick and accurate medical images.

The Chameleon laser, a one-box fully automated tuneable ultrafast laser system, is being used, among many other applications, to make new discoveries via in-vivo brain imaging of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  

The product has created 100 jobs for the company since it was introduced to the market ten years ago.

Tracerco Ltd based in Billingham in the north east of England receive their Innovation Award for the development of a leading gamma-radiation based tool for pipe measurement in the oil and gas industry.

The new measuring system, novel due to its ability to account for the build-up of residue in pipes, has led to considerable efficiency savings for the companies using the product. Tracerco Ltd has earned itself a global reputation for successful innovation in the process.

Zephir Ltd based in Ledbury, Herefordshire, recognised the need to measure the suitability of sites for wind farms without cumbersome meteorological towers and designed a portable ‘lidar’ device to measure 100 metre high winds remotely from the ground.

Working with researchers and renewable energy companies, Zephir Ltd has generated millions in profit since the device was introduced seven years ago.

A team from Elekta Ltd, based in Crawley in West Sussex, introduced ‘Agility’ – a beam shaping device employed in radiotherapy – to provide hospitals with a device for efficient, reliable and safe radiotherapy treatment.

First introduced to hospitals one year ago, the device has given clinicians the ability to target tumours more accurately with moulded beams of radiation and thereby save patients from unwanted doses.

The innovation has earned the company in excess of £20m while also helping save many lives.

Stemming from research undertaken via an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council fellowship, Simpleware Ltd from Exeter has developed a software solution that converts 3D images into high-quality computer models.

The software, which is being used to enable better design of everything from contact lenses and bike helmets to car parts and rocket engines, heralds a significant advance in computer-aided engineering (CAE) and is being used by blue chip companies and numerous research institutes, including NASA.   

The IOP Innovation Awards are a unique celebration of commercial success built on physics.  For quotes from the winning companies, see

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 -  

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