Electronics shows up well in Queen's Awards - Embedded.com

Electronics shows up well in Queen’s Awards

London, UK — A number of UK electronics companies are among those awarded a Queen's Award for Enterprise. The 112 awards include 66 for international trade, 39 for innovation and 7 for sustainable development.

Winners from the electronics sector in the International Trade category include CSR, Oxford Semiconductor, PestWest Electronics, Spirent Communications (SW), TMD Technologies, and Wolfson Microelectronics. The Innovation category includes recognition for Andor Technology, Dage Precision Industries, e2v technologies, Fibercore, Link Research, MBDA UK, and Primayer.

Bluetooth specialist CSR was established in 1999 and is winning an Award for the first time. More than 100 customers have designed 300 products using the company's chips and overseas revenues have grown more than six times over 3 years and totalled £33 millions to December 2002.

Oxford Semiconductor sells to over 20 markets in Asia, Europe and North America and its overseas earnings have totalled more than £23 million in three years. It employs 80 people across offices in the UK, Singapore, Taiwan and theUSA, and operates a global network of distributors and sales agents. James Foster, Oxford Semiconductor's CEO, said, “The Queen's Award is a direct reflection of our focus on developing chips that remove the complexity from consumer electronic products. Our export success has been achieved by forging close relations with overseas customers and providing them with robust software and working silicon that helps take products to market in the shortest possible time.”

PestWest Electronics based in Ossett, West Yorkshire, started trading in 1991 and manufactures and distributes electronic units which control flying insects by using ultraviolet light. Overseas sales have more than doubled over six years and are made to sectors such as the pest control industry, agriculture, catering, janitorial and electrical, and to large end users, in over 70 countries.

Spirent Communications (SW) based in Paignton, Devon which started trading in 1985 and is winning the Award for the second time. A designer and manufacturer of satellite navigation test equipment for the GNSS market (Global Navigation Satellite System), it provides solutions to customers in the military, space, civil aviation, marine, automotive and surveying sectors. Sales are throughout North America, Asia and Europe and in six years revenue has increased by 155

TMD Technologies from Hayes, Middlesex designs and manufactures specialised microwave tubes, power supplies and subsystems for radar and electronic warfare applications. It also produces a range of commercial amplifiers for EMC, communications, medical and scientific use, and receivers for specialised communications applications. Overseas earnings have totalled £18 million over three years. Typically it can take the company two years to obtain a contract for the first prototype and then five more years before the first production contract is achieved.

Wolfson Microelectronics, the supplier of analogue intensive mixed-signal ICs has over 90% of its sales going to countries in the Asia/Pacific region, overseas revenue has trebled in the last three years. The company floated on the London Stock Exchange in October 2003 and currently has over 170 employees.

Belfast based Andor Technology receives the Award for its iXon digital scientific camera. At the heart of the camera is an ultra-sensitive charge-coupled device, jointly developed with e2v technologies Ltd. The camera, controlled by a PC, is able to detect single photons of light and is used in a wide variety of low light scientific applications such as the detection of light emitted by biological and pharmaceutical samples.

Dage Precision Industries is based in Aylesbury receives the Award for innovation in the development of X-ray systems for inspection in the printed circuit board and semiconductor industries. Its system produces accurate, high definition images of the internal structure of a product on a screen, which can be viewed by an inspector.

e2v technologies in Chelmsford has developed a novel magnetron which produces major benefits in the treatment of cancer. Magnetrons produce microwaves which are used in conjunction with linear accelerators to produce the radiation used in radiotherapy. Tuning the magnetron to the correct frequency is vital for successful treatment and was previously achieved mechanically. e2v's product is tuned electronically and is able to maintain a specific frequency more accurately and can change frequency more rapidly. These two advances provide greater patient throughput and more effective treatments. e2v's fast tuning magnetron is incorporated in all radiotherapy equipment manufactured by Elekta.

Fibercore is based on the Chilworth Science Park, Southampton and its award recognises its innovations in the manufacture of optical fibre for fibre optic gyroscopes (FOGs). FOGs use up to one kilometre of fibre wound into a coil. Fibercore has produced improvements to the fibre which have led to its capture of a dominant share of the world market. Improvements include progressive reductions in the diameter of the fibre so coils are less bulky, a low modulus, acrylate coating that enables the fibres to be used at temperatures down to minus fifty-five degrees Celsius and provides better tensile strength and adhesion to glass than typical silicone-based materials. Improved manufacturing processes have recently increased production yield by fifty-five per cent and reduced costs by thirty per cent.

Link Research wins the Award for its innovative MPEG low-delay encoding for television used in the Link XP wireless TV camera system. At the heart of the camera developed by this nineteen-person firm based in Watford, Hertfordshire is the fast digital encoder for TV signals. This converts the analogue signal from the camera to digital format with a very low delay of 40 milliseconds, equivalent to one frame. This is important for outside broadcasts where the time lag between the broadcast picture and real time needs to be minimised. In addition to reducing delay, the encoder consumes very little energy, allowing the camera to operate wirelessly on battery power.

MBDA UK wins the Award for the development of the Butler microchip. Relying on an operating system to provide an interface between the hardware and operational software is not always suitable in real-time embedded systems and is moreover prone to error when faced with the extreme demands of guided missile applications. The Butler chip overcomes these limitations by providing the hardware support to the execution of a missile system's software, thereby removing the need for a conventional operating system. This processor has already been successfully integrated in different military missile systems and the technology has also been effectively demonstrated by MBDA in non-military applications such as civil aviation and commercial robotics.

Primayer's headquarters are located in Denmead, Hampshire, with offices in Malaysia and France. It receives the Award for the development and refinement of devices for locating water leaks using a technique called acoustic correlation allied to advanced signal processing. Primayer has developed a range of instruments which can locate leaks more accurately by placing sensors either side of the suspected site of the leak. The devices have been continuously refined so they are now lighter, consume little power, and can be operated wirelessly.

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