Europe’s largest contract research organisation to set up UK headquarters

The first Fraunhofer Centre to be established in the UK will be based at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Europe's largest organisation for applied research, is creating the new Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics in a strategic collaboration with the University of Strathclyde. The Centre will be a hub for industry-driven laser research and technology for a variety of sectors including healthcare, security, energy and transport.

At the same time Fraunhofer will establish UK headquarters, Fraunhofer UK Research Ltd., at the University, which will be the umbrella organisation for any additional UK-based research centres in the future.

The Fraunhofer Centre will be based in the University’s world-class Technology and Innovation Centre, which was launched in March last year and is transforming the way universities, business and industry collaborate to find solutions to global challenges, create jobs and support the economy.

The new Fraunhofer Centre is funded by Fraunhofer and the University, the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council. The Centre for Applied Photonics is expected to be the model for more Fraunhofer research centres around the UK.

Education Secretary Michael Russell announced the launch of the centre. He said: "Scottish universities are known around the world for their excellence and Glasgow has a global reputation for advanced research and technology. It's great news that this success has helped to attract Fraunhofer to Scotland.

"Building on the links between education and industry is a win-win situation that will benefit our economy. Securing the UK's first Fraunhofer centre is a major achievement for the University of Strathclyde's Technology and Innovation Centre and I look forward to watching this exciting initiative develop."

Professor Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde said: “Fraunhofer Centres pride themselves on research that is geared to industry and societal needs – an ethos that closely mirrors our own work at the University of Strathclyde.

“By working side-by-side with colleagues in business, industry and government, we are finding solutions to global challenges, enhancing industry innovation and competitiveness and supporting the economy.

“Our collaborative approach is also playing a critical role in the development of tomorrow’s highly-skilled graduates and next-generation leaders, ensuring our students’ education is informed by the very latest research and the needs of global employers.

“It is fitting that the UK’s first Fraunhofer Centre is dedicated to lasers, a thriving industry Scotland has excelled in for decades. The plans have already been endorsed by our partners in industry and we look forward to working together to design and develop the products and services of tomorrow.”

The UK headquarters and the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics will join a growing community of Fraunhofer Centres globally. Fraunhofer has more than 20,000 employees in more than 80 research units in Germany alone, and is establishing Centres throughout Europe, Asia and North America - most recently at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The new Centre will collaborate with this strong Fraunhofer network.

Fraunhofer research has formed the basis of a wide range of technologies for industry and products in everyday use, such as the MP3 player and apps for mobile phones, including customised weather reports and music identification systems like the iPhone app, Shazam.

Professor Ulrich Buller, a Senior Vice-President and Executive Board member of Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, said: “Fraunhofer is extremely pleased to have this opportunity to collaborate more closely with the University of Strathclyde. The University has an excellent reputation for industrial engagement and specifically for photonics research and commercialisation via its Institute of Photonics and other research groups.

“Consequently, Fraunhofer has been eager, for some time, to create a Research Centre in Glasgow in conjunction with Strathclyde.”

Professor Oliver Ambacher, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Physics in Freiburg, the partnering institute of the new Fraunhofer unit in Glasgow, added: “Photonics activity is particularly strong in the UK, and most especially in Scotland, and I look forward to many years of collaboration between Fraunhofer and the UK companies which will be beneficial to the economies of Scotland, the UK and Europe as a whole.”

The news marks the latest in a series of partnerships for the University in the past year.

  • Earlier this month, the University announced it has been selected as the exclusive European partner for South Korea’s global research and commercialisation programme.
  • In February, Business Secretary Vince Cable announced the University would play a key role in the UK’s Catapult Centre for Offshore Renewable Energy – a collaborative hub for energy research and development. Strathclyde is already a partner in the UK’s Catapult Centre for High Value Manufacturing.
  • Entrepreneurial students and researchers are benefiting from a three-year agreement with one of the world’s largest banks, Santander, announced in December
  • In September, the Duke of York visited the site of the University’s Power Network Demonstration Centre, a hub to accelerate the adoption of ‘smart’ technologies including advanced power grids and electric cars
  • The same month, the University forged a four-year research partnership with wind energy giants Gamesa

    Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said, "Fraunhofer centres excel in helping companies to develop new products from research. Having this centre in Scotland will bring significant benefits for our companies, helping them to invest in their growth, sharpen their competitive edge and compete in global markets. The Fraunhofer Centre location at the Technology and Innovation Centre is ideal, as it’s rapidly becoming a major hub for world leading technology and innovation."

    Mark Batho, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: “The decision of Fraunhofer Gesellschaft to come to Scotland is an important recognition of the quality of research taking place in our universities and of their ambition to forge ever closer links with businesses. That is why the SFC has been so pleased to support this project. The establishment of the new centre will provide a range of expertise, skills, and facilities in photonics technologies that small and large companies can tap into to support their own innovation and product development, and ultimately economic success.”

    Notes to editors

    University of Strathclyde media information:
    Kat Hannah
    Media and Corporate Communications
    University of Strathclyde
    T: +44 (0) 141 548 4123

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