University of Southampton - Building a world leading photonics cluster

Quality related “QR” funding has helped support the development of a world leading photonics and nanoelectronics cluster around the University of Southampton's Zepler Institute.

Flexible QR resources have supplemented core research funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and industry partnerships, with research outcomes delivering advances in optical fibre and optical amplifier technology that have been crucial to enabling high-speed communications by the internet and mobile phones.

QR has been critical to maximizing the translational impact of research being carried out at the Zepler Institute, funding the development of a dedicated business development team to drive industrial engagement, supporting industry partnerships and driving growth that saw the turnover of digital technology businesses in Southampton reach £2.1 billion by 2017. In 2019, the city ranked in the UK's top five tech superclusters, according to a report by estate advisers CBRE. The interdisciplinary, industry focused approach to research taken by teams at the Zepler Institute has resulted in the successful commercialisation of a range of cutting-edge products such as new fibres used by NASA in the Mars Explorer.

The Zepler Institute’s spin out companies employ more than 400 people directly and generate turnover of more than £100 million annually. The local ecosystem operating around businesses developing research advances from the University of Southampton has delivered £320 million of output from 52 companies employing 1,560 people in photonics.

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