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Latest news from Loughborough University

25 June 2009 | PR 09/76

£1.4M investment in Phase Vision will see launch of ‘Broadband Metrology’

Phase Vision is poised to become a world leader in optical metrology, having secured funding of over £1.4M.  The funding was lead by Octopus Ventures, with the Lachesis Fund (and others) also participating.  Assistance was provided by Connect Midlands.

Jon Huntley,  Professor of Applied Mechanics, LU (co-inventor)  Phase Vision’s products provide incredibly accurate measurement data which can be used in a wide range of industries, including helping to reduce the drag of an aircraft’s wing, generating enormous fuel savings for airlines. They can also help car bodies fit together better, enhancing quality and reducing cost or optimise the manufacturing of jet engines, making them quieter and more efficient.  

“Our systems provide data to control manufacturing processes accurately and rapidly, saving money, energy and scrap,” explains CEO Ralph Weir, a veteran of several VC-backed start-ups. 

The company’s products are 3D measurement systems using a non-contact structured lighting technique, originally developed at Loughborough University.  They bring several unique advantages:

The system uses “structured white light” to achieve this – a source with far greater bandwidth and dynamic range than the lasers often used in industrial measurement.  Weir continues: “We’ve effectively mastered the use of broadband light for measurement, which brings the same gains that broadband brought to the internet.  With this well-proven technology at our core, we now also have the investment to build our production and sales organisations to create a real world leader.”
                                                     
In many industries, computer modelling has outpaced manufacturing capability – engineers can design optimised components, but without effective measurement, these cannot be manufactured accurately.   Phase Vision delivers the required measurement accuracy, at production line speeds.

“The market for our class of measurement technology was worth £2B in 2007 - yet nobody delivers this level of measurement performance. Given our current growth rate, it’s clear that the market needs our speed and accuracy.”  Weir noted.

Professor Phill Dickens, Loughborough University’s Pro Vice Chancellor (Enterprise), said: “It’s great to see a Loughborough University spinoff achieve such success, transitioning from a successful consultancy to a world leader in metrology. We wish them every success with the product launch.”

Weir concluded; “As we developed the product, we benefited enormously from the help, guidance and support available from both Lachesis and Connect Midlands – ultimately leading to this investment, which enables us to grow our production and sales teams.”

Paul Jenkinson, regional manager of Connect Midlands said: “We are delighted that Phase Vision has raised over £1.4M and pleased that Connect Midlands could play a part in assisting them scale a successful consultancy into a world-beating products vendor.”

Phase Vision’s product is currently in beta trials at several sites in the UK, and will be more widely available later in the year.

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Anna Seddon

Marketing Manager, Enterprise Office
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223445
E: A.J.Seddon@lboro.ac.uk

Ralph Weir at Phase Vision r.weir@phasevision.com 01509 223632

Notes for editors:

PRINT QUALITY IMAGES ARE AVAILABLE FROM ANNA SEDDON

Phase Vision

Phase Vision’s patented technology was originally developed in the Optical Engineering research Group at Loughborough University.  The company was founded in 2002, and operated as a successful consultancy, providing advanced bespoke metrology systems to blue-chip customers.  Since 2008, the company has transitioned into a products supplier, providing measurement systems which provide breakthroughs in speed and accuracy – and ease of use.  The company is based in Loughborough Innovation Centre.

The measurement technology is based on projecting patterns of white light onto the object to be measured, and using cameras to analyse the details of how the light pattern is distorted, or modulated, by the object’s presence.   Powerful computers then determine the shape of the object, with millions of measurements being taken within seconds – yet each is accurate to a few microns.

Older laser-based systems are commonplace, but are broadly analogous to the old “dial-up” technologies used in communications.  Mastery of white light brings significant benefits in performance, plus the ability to measure optically challenging surfaces, makes today’s announcement critical throughout the manufacturing industry.

As an example – it is clear that polished metal components cause reflections, and are thus harder to measure with light.  Carbon Fibre, and other composite materials, absorb light – providing additional challenges.   These are the issues that Phase Vision has addressed in a fast, accurate and reliable measurement system for industry. 

For more details visit: www.phasevision.com

Connect Midlands

Connect Midlands is a not-for-profit network, part-funded by the ERDF and emda, operating out of Warwick Ventures at the University of Warwick. It supports technology and high growth companies to gain investment through training and mentoring, investment showcasing events, and networking between businesses, investors, intermediaries, support agencies and the academic community.  There are two offices in the Midlands; an East Midlands office at the Loughborough Innovation Centre and a West Midlands office at the University of Warwick.

For more details visit:  www.connectmidlands.org   www.invored.org.uk

LACHESIS

The Lachesis Fund, now based at De Montfort University, is an £8M seed fund established by the universities of De Montfort, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Nottingham Trent.  The Fund invests in early stage businesses emerging from the partner universities, and supports those businesses in many ways with the aim of making them a commercial success.

Lachesis contact details at De Montfort University 0116 2506067 or www.LachesisFund.co.uk

Octopus Ventures

The funds allocated were provided by the Octopus Titan 1, 2 and 3 VCTs, Octopus Eureka, and the Octopus Investor Group. Octopus Ventures Ltd (www.octopusventures.com) is a specialist investor in early-stage and expanding companies and led this round of funding, giving it a significant minority stake in the business.

East Midlands Development Agency (emda)

East Midlands Development Agency (emda) is one of nine Regional Development Agencies in England, set up in 1999 to bring a regional focus to economic development.  Ten years on, independent evaluation shows emda has:

  • Had a significant impact on the region’s economy
  • Generated economic benefits that substantially outweigh its overall costs
  • Put back over £9 of economic output (or GVA) into the regional economy for every £1 it spends
  • Produced more than £1 billion in economic benefits per year

A wider impact on people, places and businesses in the East Midlands that cannot be captured by figures alone.

emda is committed to supporting the region through the current downturn and has put in place a range of measures to provide real help during these challenging times.

Over the long term, emda’s aim is to deliver the 2006 Regional Economic Strategy (RES) by working in partnership with public, private and voluntary organisations.  The RES highlights the themes of productivity, sustainability and equality and sets out key priorities until 2020 to ensure the vision for ‘a flourishing region’ can be achieved. 
For more details visit: www.emda.org.uk

About ERDF in the East Midlands 

The East Midlands is eligible for €268.5m (approximately £246m at current exchange rates) between 2007 and 2013, which when combined with match funding, provides a programme value of approximately £492m – a significant investment in the economic development of the region.

The East Midlands qualifies as a competitiveness and employment region under the EU’s Cohesion Policy, which aims to meet the EU Lisbon objective to become ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social inclusion.’

East Midlands Development Agency (emda) is responsible for the programme management and delivery of the region’s 2007-13 ERDF Competitiveness Programme.  The responsibility for ERDF programme management was transferred from the Government Office for the East Midlands (GOEM) to emda following a decision by the UK Government to seek greater alignment between ERDF and regional strategies and funding streams.  The 2007-13 ERDF Programme is therefore set firmly within the framework of the Regional Economic Strategy.
A Programme Monitoring Committee, chaired by the Regional Director of Government Office for the East Midlands (GOEM), guides the strategic direction of the programme and works closely with emda. To find out more about ERDF, the region’s strategy for delivering the funds, how to apply for funding and how the programme is managed, please visit www.eastmidlandserdf.org.uk

About Loughborough University

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2008 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, with 22 out of 30 of its subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. It was named winner of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Times Higher award for the UK’s Best Student Experience and winner of the 2007 award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other institution.

It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

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