University of Southampton receives share of £138 million investment in research-business partnerships (From Hampshire Chronicle)

A HAMPSHIRE university is to receive a double investment boost to aid its research work.

The University of Southampton is to benefit from two separate investments from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Announced by universities minister Jo Johnson, the funding is part of the government’s commitment to engineering and the physical sciences to make the country a global research and innovation leader.

The first investment will be for the university’s Silicon Photonics Group (SPG), who are developing technology which uses optical signals to transfer data between computers, servers and the wider world.

SPG will receive £2.7m and will work with its partner Rockley Photonics who will contribute a further £2m in private investment.

The investment will be used to develop the silicon photonics technology within communications networks in data centres.

Graham Reed, professor of Silicon Photonics at the university, said: “At Southampton, our expertise and facilities offer a unique environment for silicon photonics research and innovation.

“One of the world’s most pressing problems is how to handle our relentless desire for more data, and we are striving to make significant improvements.

“The prosperity partnership is the perfect vehicle for our work with Rockley Photonics; it enables a relatively young, growing company to invest in university research at an early stage.”

Dr Andrew Rickman, chief executive of Rockley Photonics, said: “Our partnership, built up over many years, demonstrates the value of relationships between academia and commercial enterprises such as ours.

“It gives us the ability to combine resources and academic excellence and focus on groundbreaking, early-stage technologies, such as silicon photonics.”

Meanwhile, the university will receive £3m in impact acceleration account funding, a form of funding which allows research organisations to respond to scientific knowledge in more flexible, responsive and creative ways.

Professor Philip Nelson, chief executive of the EPSRC, said: “If innovation is an ecosystem then it is dependent on having a fertile soil of research and the fresh air of ideas to nourish its growth.

“These new prosperity partnerships and impact acceleration account investments will provide the right conditions in which new technologies and products can be developed more quickly.

“In turn, this will return social and economic benefits and ensure the UK continues to be one of the best places in the world to research, innovate and grow business.”

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