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Institute of Physics celebrates commercial innovation

Bright ideas: the Insitute of Physics lauds five UK-based companies. (Courtesy: IOP)

Bright ideas: the Insitute of Physics lauds five UK-based companies.

By Hamish Johnston

The Institute of Physics (IOP) has bestowed its Innovation Award on five UK-based companies. The IOP, which publishes, runs the annual award to “celebrate companies that make the most of physics”.

This year’s winners include Glasgow-based Coherent Scotland for its development of a laser system that allows medical images to be obtained quickly and accurately. Also working in the medical sector, Elekta of Crawley in West Sussex bags an award for a beam-shaping device that is used in radiotherapy.

Tracerco, based in Billingham, County Durham, wins an award for developing a tool that uses gamma radiation to characterize pipes for the oil and gas industry. Meanwhile, in Ledbury in Herefordshire the firm ZephIR is honoured for its portable LIDAR device that measures wind speeds 100 m above the ground and is used to plan wind farms.

The fifth company to win an award is Simpleware of Exeter, which is lauded for its software that converts 3D images into high-quality computer models.

“Many congratulations to all of these companies for successfully applying physics to meet some of the biggest challenges of our age and generating significant wealth for themselves, their employees and the regions they work in,” said Peter Knight, who is president of the IOP.

The five winners will be showing their wares to UK parliamentarians in a special exhibition at the Palace of Westminster on 6 November.

The IOP has also published a report called The Importance of Physics to Economic Growth, which says that physics-based businesses contribute 8.5% of the UK’s economic output and employ more than a million people.

Last year my colleague Tushna Commissariat met some of the winners of the 2012 Innovation Award. You can read more about their accomplishments here.

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