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Sensors and imaging

Making sensors in Scotland

Four big numbers and eight areas make for one clear message: Scotland's the place to invest for excellence in sensor and imaging technology.

The industry, companies, and universities:

  • £2.3 billion: the estimated value of the sensors industry in Scotland
  • 130 sensor system companies are based in Scotland
  • 30 other companies provide support technologies
  • Eight universities are currently conducting research into intelligent sensor systems


And some of the areas they're active in:

  • Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and microelectronics
  • Ultrasonic and photonic systems
  • Mixed signal processing
  • Informatics
  • Networks
  • Radio frequency
  • System Integration 
  • Imaging

Scotland's the smart choice for sensors

New enhancements in sensors and imaging technology are transforming the way that sensors are used in Scotland.

This report from global research consultants Frost & Sullivan explains why Scotland is a key hub for the development and commercialisation of sensor and imaging technologies.

Find out more about sensors in Scotland

Blue computer chip

Smarter together

Things work better when they're fully integrated - and now it’s easier for universities and businesses to collaborate on developing sensor and imaging systems in Scotland.

The CENSIS innovation centre brings together the resources of 13 Scottish universities and industry partners  - making it a single contact point to access all the research capabilities across Scotland, as well as a technical capability in system design and project management. What’s more, if your business gets involved with CENSIS, you can also access R&D and innovation support.

How CENSIS makes sense of data

Workers at CENSIS standing and working at computers
CENSIS focuses on using sensors to make a smarter world.

Fraunhofer and Strathclyde University

Europe's largest organisation for applied research established the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics in collaboration with Strathclyde University.

Fraunhofer chose Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde for its excellent reputation for working with industry when it comes to technology research. 

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.”

Nurturing highly-skilled graduates

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.

"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: “Our collaborative approach is 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."

Looking for an excellent research base?

You're in luck. Scottish researchers were the first to dope amorphous silicone, which forms the basis of the Active Matrix LCD screen. It's been quite popular.

  • Aberdeen University – Communications & Optical Engineering Research Group
  • Dundee University – Remote Sensing and Environmental Monitoring Group; Photonics & Nanoscience Group
  • Heriot-Watt University – Laser & Photonics Applications Group; joint Research Institute for Signal & Image Processing (with the University of Edinburgh); Microsystems Engineering Centre
  • University of Edinburgh – joint Research Institute for Signal & Image Processing (with Heriot-Watt University); Institute for Integrated Systems and the Scottish Microelectronics Centre; Collaborative Optical Spectroscopy, Micromanipulation and Imaging Centre (COSMIC); SpeckNET
  • Strathclyde University – Institute of Photonics; Centre for Intelligent Dynamic Communications; Centre for Microsystems and Photonics; Centre for Excellence in Signal and Image Processing; Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering
  • Glasgow University – Optoelectronics Group; Electronics Design Centre – Integrated Sensor Technologies; James Watt Nanofabrication Centre
  • St Andrews University – Optical Trapping Group; Organic Semiconductor Optoelectronics; Nonlinear Optics Group.

Sensors and imaging

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International sector head - Mark Newlands

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