Birmingham Science Park Aston’s Optical Performance Centre

For innovative SME lighting and photonics companies – particularly those developing new products in fast paced markets – access to laboratory testing, R&D and certification facilities can be an expensive requirement. The Optical Performance Centre, based at Birmingham Science Park Aston solves this problem.

Run by LUX-TSI, in conjunction with Innovation Birmingham, the Optical Performance Centre is a central cog in the rapidly growing solid-state lighting and energy efficient consumer electronics markets.

Lighting and technology companies can gain unprecedented access to state-of-the-art R&D equipment to conduct controlled laboratory tests. The Optical Performance Centre is staffed by specialist, highly experience engineers. All processes are compliant with the ISO17025 quality system, which ensures traceability of calibration and audited procedures that are internationally consistent with other larger laboratories.

Thanks to Innovation Birmingham’s £770,000 project, part-funded by an ERDF grant, SMEs with prototype and early-stage designs for new low-carbon lighting solutions can take advantage of free support, equipment access and testing at the Optical Performance Centre.

The Centre is assisting with the creation of truly ‘next generation’ lighting products that deliver huge improvements to quality, while reducing CO2 emissions. With the ‘green’ lighting technologies market forecast to grow by 19 per cent, the free assistance offered at the Optical Performance Centre, through its ERDF-funded project, is helping to ensure West Midlands-based companies can take their highly innovative products to market.

Dr Gareth Jones, CEO of LUX-TSI, which operates the commercial aspects of the Optical Performance Centre said: “We can help smaller companies breakthrough into the marketplace more quickly, through a partnership approach allowing the use of our laboratory equipment in a flexible manner. We encourage customer s to consider the lab as a part of their own R&D or product certification process.  This can be a huge benefit when product development can be an uphill struggle in these difficult economic times.”

David Chan, CTO and co-founder of LUX-TSI added: “For smaller companies, establishing a new laboratory requires a large capital outlay: the fit-out, infrastructure, health and safety, fulfilling quality management system requirements, and the specialist equipment all need to be purchased before research or testing can be undertaken. This can be reduced dramatically through access to our array of equipment and in-house expert engineers, who collectively have over 100 years of combined expertise in the lighting, photonics and consumer electronics fields. “

As well as Birmingham’s Optical Performance Centre, LUX-TSI has a sister operation located in South Wales at the Sony UK Technology Centre. Both facilities are centres of excellence in both optical and electrical/energy performance, in line with European goals of 20 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020.

LUX-TSI is a preferred partner of global testing company UL (Underwriters’ Laboratories). UL is establishing European centres of excellence, with LUX-TSI having been approved to fulfil its UK and Ireland service. With demand continually rising from UK firms wishing to certify products for global markets, the funding and partnership arrangement brought about the creation of six new jobs during the past 12 months.

Gareth Jones added: “In addition to testing, we are also expanding into new markets. At the point of launching our eyeLIGHTTM software platform at the end of last year – in conjunction with the National Physical Laboratory – it won the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) Measurement in Action Award. We have also secured £430,000 of additional working capital, which is enabling us to expand our laboratory facilities and the variety and amount of work we can undertake.”

LUX-TSI is also one of a small number of the UK Accreditation Service’s (UKAS) approved lighting product testing companies (to ISO17025 standard). The testing specialist is also approved to carry out photometric testing of lighting and signage products under the BSI (British Standards Institution) guidelines for automotive and roadside applications.

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