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Tech centre perfectly placed to capitalise on new partnerships and grant victory

27 May 2016

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A world-leading North Wales technology centre is perfectly placed to capitalise on a ground-breaking grant and new partnerships with two top universities.

Wrexham Glyndŵr University’s OpTIC Technology Centre in St Asaph is a “prime example” of how a successful research and design cluster should operate, according to new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Maria Hinfelaar.

Speaking at a business breakfast attended by more than 40 people and hosted by Chancellor Trefor Jones CBE, Professor Hinfelaar paid tribute to the centre’s new director Caroline Gray and said the work of scientists and engineers at OpTIC – notably those who won the race to design prototype mirrors for the world’s largest telescope – is a source of great pride for the University.

Glyndŵr Innovations’ Engineering and Design group is also celebrating a £390,000 grant with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to develop a prototype design for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

“What happens here at OpTIC is so exciting, it’s a prime example of how it should be done,” said Professor Hinfelaar.

“For the University as a whole the challenge ahead is very interesting, but can be achieved if we pursue three key ambitions.

“First of all, we must look to attract, retain and develop talent, particularly in research and development.

“Secondly, we will position Wrexham Glyndŵr as the University of and for north east Wales – OpTIC will play a major role in that – and thirdly we will further develop partnerships in education, with local authorities, business and industry.

“You cannot live and work in an ivory tower, no university can survive like that and I’m going to be the driver for ensuring we focus on these elements as we move forward together.”

During his speech, Mr Jones described 2016 as the beginning of a “new era” for Wrexham Glyndŵr University.

He added that “many great companies” had spun-out of the incubation units at the OpTIC Centre, and many high-performing firms remain.

Reinforcing those words, Mrs Gray said: “We had more than 29,000 visitors through the doors last year, held 30 major conferences and more than 700 meetings for external organisations. We also currently have 18 resident businesses employing upwards of 100 staff.

“OpTIC is a living, breathing success story and things are getting better and better, including the £390,000 grant we have secured with the MoD, supported by Welsh Government.

“It shows how the team works and will work going into the future.”

Among the companies thriving at the St Asaph facility are UPS2, ADC Biotechnology, Dyesol, and Kent Periscopes, whose managing director John Oliver thanked OpTIC for its part in the success of the burgeoning business, which develops vehicle sights and related equipment for armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs).

Mrs Gray added: “’As well as a host of successful companies producing incredible research and pushing the boundaries of technology we have also secured new partnerships in higher education, with Swansea and Huddersfield universities now having a presence here in St Asaph.

“We are back, we are strong and we are very busy – this definitely is a new era for the University, and most definitely for the OpTIC centre.”

The OpTIC Centre celebrated 10 years in 2015, and in past months scientists at the facility completed a €5M project to produce prototype mirror segments and test facilities for what will be the world’s largest telescope, the £900m E-ELT project (European-Extremely Large Telescope) to be sited in Chile.

For more information on Glyndŵr Innovations, visit http://www.glyndwrinnovations.co.uk

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