University celebrates success of Wrexham research facility


Staff reporter (Leader Live)

GLYNDWR University’s is celebrating the success of a research complex which has created 20 jobs and won millions of pounds in grants over the last five years.

Since acquiring The OpTIC Centre in St Asaph in 2009, Glyndwr has made huge strides with a number of technological projects, most notably the world-leading ESO team’s ground breaking achievements in polishing mirrors for the £900 million European-Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), the world’s biggest telescope to be positioned on a Chilean mountain top.

Glyndwr Innovations, the commercial arm of the University, was named fastest growing company in Wales in 2012 and fourth-fastest last year.

And in 2013-14 alone, The OpTIC Centre has won contracts with external partners totalling more than £500,000, having also won more than £2 million in research grants.

VIP visitors have included Prime Minister David Cameron, First Ministers Rhodri Morgan and Carwyn Jones AM, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and Karren Brady, vice-

chair of West Ham FC and a star of BBC’s The Apprentice.

As well as houosing a range of top science businesses, Glyndwr’s own technology groups have also gone from strength to strength, according to Centre for Solar Energy Research (CSER) Director, Professor Stuart Irvine.

“Since 2008, CSER has grown from a small team of six to over 15, carrying out world-class research in photovoltaic solar energy and working with industry to develop new opportunities,” he said.

“We’ve already attracted more than £5 million of new investment and worked with mroe than 40 companies, this could not have been achieved without the unique facilities at OpTIC.”

The site is also home of the National Facility for Ultra Precision Surfaces, where the team, led by Tony Fox-Leonard, are successfully polishing mirrors for the E-ELT, a

giant eye on the sky made of 798 segments and located on Mount Cerro Armazones in Chile, where it is set to gather 15 times more light than the largest telescopes

around today.

They recently polished the 1.5m optic down to just 7.5 nanometres – which equates to around the size of a haemoglobin molecule – a world-best result putting

Glyndwr firmly on the map of international applied research and development.

Professor David Walker said: “From basic operations in an otherwise empty building, Glyndwr has developed the National Facility for Ultra Precision Surfaces into a

world-renowned centre attracting academic and industrial visitors from around the globe, commercial contracts, and publications in the top-ranking international optics

journals and conferences.”

For more information on facilities at The OpTIC Centre email or visit

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