Torbay Electronics & Photonics Innovation Centre

What do surgical instruments, high-speed computer communications, low-energy Christmas tree lights, pollution measurements and improved education in the developing world all have in common? They all either rely upon or could be improved by advanced forms of light.

The photonics industry did not exist 30 years ago. Today it is worth £10.5bn to the UK economy, supporting more than 1,500 SMEs and employing more than 70,000 people. It is growing at 8-10% annually and has been identified as a key enabling technology. You can learn more about the importance of photonics to our everyday lives here: Photonics technologies are everywhere! (YouTube)

Torbay is regarded by businesses as one of the top locations for electronics and photonics in England and is home to a cluster of advanced electronics companies including leading international technology companies represented by the Hi Tech Forum.

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Funding has been secured for an £8m Electronics & Photonics Innovation Centre (EPIC) project including investment from Torbay Council, Coastal Communities Fund. Based at White Rock Business Park on the outskirts of Paignton the 30-40,000 sq ft centre will support the sector by providing office and clean room space for small start up businesses with additional elements based on the Catapult Centre model, where the very best of the UK's businesses, scientists and engineers are brought together in one central workspace to work side by side on late-stage R&D, transforming ideas with high potential into new products and services to generate economic growth.

The centre will be home to innovative hi tech start up businesses, ideally positioning them close to industry experts and cutting edge companies. It will:

  • Support commercial product development and R&D
  • Help companies design new, customised, high-value products for use in industries important to the UK including marine, medical, aerospace and defence
  • Enable existing businesses to utilise equipment in a more cost effective way, increasing productivity and creating new products
  • Encourage exporting and inward investment
  • Create 220 jobs when at full occupancy

The project will respond directly to the needs highlighted by the sector with functions proposed to support prototyping, test development methodology and research and development. It will form a hub for the photonics industry in South Devon.

Construction is expected to begin later in 2015.