Creating new businesses and helping new businesses to innovate

In an increasingly competitive world, it is not enough to only push the boundaries of science and technology but also exploit it and commercialise it for the good of the UK economy.

STFC has a proven track record of:

  • making ground breaking discoveries through our research and development
  • creating new companies and exploiting the technology that comes out of our science for the economic benefit of the UK.

We have a team of intellectual property specialists working closely with our scientists and engineers across our 3 UK sites to identify opportunities from new technologies developed, and qualify their commercial potential. STFC’s intellectual property portfolio exists in the form of patents, industrial designs and copyright in our papers, processes and software. We operate a fair Intellectual Policy policy which clarifies exactly who will own intellectual property through interactions with STFC.

Since 2002, STFC has been responsible for creating spin-out companies based on research and development within the National Laboratories owned by STFC. It has spun-out a new company every year on average. STFC spin-outs often go on to attract a substantial external investment enabling laboratory based techniques and know-how to deliver industrial innovation.

The creation of these new spin-out companies also channels money into research, benefits local economic development and has created many new jobs.

Spin-out companies

Atheras Analytics

Atheras Analytics’ core technology is based on research conducted by STFC’s RAL Space. The company has developed software tools for satellite operators to optimise the design and operation of next-generation satellite networks by taking into account region-specific weather conditions, in particular, rainfall.

Electrospinning Company

The Electrospinning Company specialises in the design and manufacture of high value electrospun devices such as scaffolds and patches to enable cell growth in implanted medical devices.

These easy-to-use 3D structures are enabling research in regenerative medicine, stem cell therapeutics and drug discovery. The Electrospinning Company provides consultancy for development projects as well as a range of laboratory consumable products.

Formeric

Formeric, established in 2019, enables the digital design of formulated products. They offer a formulation simulation platform that generates enhanced experimental insights to accelerate a company’s product development process. Their proprietary algorithms, developed by STFC’s Hartree High-Performance Computing Centre, have been demonstrated to efficiently utilise some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. Formeric is now deploying these scientific achievements in the chemical sector for personal and home care product development.

Keit

Keit develops products based on fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy for process monitoring applications in manufacturing industries.

The technology, originally developed by STFC’s RAL Space department to be satellite mounted and measure gas emissions from passing planets, is uniquely compact and robust enough for operating in tough manufacturing environments. Through the use of fixed components and a simple structural design Keit have produced a spectrometer that is extremely rugged and low maintenance.

MIRICO

MIRICO, established in 2015, is developing a range of products for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions (such as methane and carbon dioxide). Developed from proprietary technologies born from STFC’s RAL Space Department, MIRICO are bringing laboratory standard high precision chemical analysis of gases in a field deployable instrument. Mirico quantifies greenhouse gas emissions across entire sites with just a single instrument, through continuous, wide-area monitoring. Operating reliably even in inclement weather, data is collected and analysed in real-time, delivering rapid insights to operators about emissions for industrial process monitoring and environmental monitoring.

Oxsensis

Formed in 2003, Oxsensis supplies temperature and pressure sensors for extremely hostile environments such as gas turbines. Its sensor technology combines innovative fibre optic interrogation techniques and micromachining of materials such as single crystal sapphire to give high sensitivity and immunity from electromagnetic interference.

Quantum Detectors

Quantum Detectors principally develops and builds detectors for large scale scientific facilities, universities and industry around the world. The technology behind these devices is based on developments made at STFC laboratories, previously unavailable to commercial customers.

Quantum Detectors continue to grow their product portfolio offering a range of laboratory quality detector systems and instruments.

Scitech Precision

Scitech Precision supplies bespoke microtargets for use in high energy photon science experiments. Scitech has experience in the design, manufacture and assembly of solid, multi-material micro targets for the user community of Central Laser Facility at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and can provide any combination of technologies using high precision fabrication equipment and silicon fabrication techniques.

In February 2016, Scitech Precision acquired laser machining expertise, expanding both their product and service range.

Sunborne Systems Limited

Sunborne Systems is a joint venture technology company formed by STFC, Reaction Engines and IP Group, aiming to enable ammonia as a zero-carbon fuel for use in transport sectors and other hard-to-decarbonise sectors such as power infrastructure.

Their mission is to design and bring to market lightweight and compact cracking reactions for green ammonia. The collaboration will combine Reaction Engines’ heat exchanger technology developed for its SABRE engine and currently being used in other technology applications, STFC’s leading expertise in developing ammonia catalyst technology, along with funding and venture-building expertise from IP Group.

Teratech Components

Teratech Components is a spin-out from the Millimetre Technology Group at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

Their mission is to provide reliable, world leading technology at a cost enabling their customers to exploit the commercial potential of the terahertz spectral band. Due to their dedicated foundry and novel fabrication processes, Teratech are able to respond very quickly to customer needs, and can offer bespoke diodes designed for specific customer applications.

Spin-out companies – acquired

Cobalt Light Systems now part of Agilent

Cobalt Light Systems develops products for non-invasive through-barrier materials analysis. The technology allows very accurate measurements on chemical composition of materials without touching or changing the sample. The company has used a technique invented at STFC to produce a table-top screening instrument for use at security checkpoints, which can screen the content of sealed bottles or containers for hazardous materials. They launched a handheld system for through-barrier identification of hazardous materials, explosives and narcotics.

Cobalt was acquired by Agilent in 2015 and Agilent has gone on to grow its global Raman headquarters on Harwell campus.

VivaMOS now part of Nordson Corporation

VivaMOS specialises in the development and fabrication of high-end large-area CMOS image sensors. The company was set up in 2014 with the aim of commercialising the highly sought-after Lassena® image sensor developed by STFC Technology division.

The Lassena® wafer-scale CMOS sensor offers a unique combination of high-speed, high-resolution, and low-noise performance, as well as being buttable on three sides, enabling the introduction of large flat panel detectors for a wide range of X-ray applications.

VivaMOS was acquired by Nordson in 2020, forming part of the Test and Inspection division within Nordson’s Advanced Technology Solutions segment.

Orbital Optics now part of MDA Corporation

Orbital Optics was spun-out of STFC in 2006 to supply RAL’s leading range of low-cost high resolution space optical cameras, which were developed for missions including TopSat, which obtained colour images at a resolution of 2.8m over a 16km field of view. The company was acquired by MDA Corporation, a Canadian space and defence company.

ThruVision now publicly listed on AIM

ThruVision develop passive detection products that are compact and therefore suitable for use in everyday situations, providing effective security without inconvenience. Their cutting-edge technology ensures that it is 100% safe for all to be screened by their products, which are designed to detect objects without capturing high levels of body detail through the use of Terahertz energy.

In March 2012, ThruVision was acquired by Digital Barriers and subsequently the company was listed on AIM. The company has continued to market and sell the ThruVision product family into a growing range of global markets.

Last updated: 12 May 2022

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