LONDON Following a fire at the University of Southampton’s Mountbatten Building yesterday (October 30), Innos and the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) are both having to move processing and production to other facilities in the U.K. Local reports estimate the damage at £50million and that it took more than 100 firefighters nearly ten hours to bring the fire under control.
Andrew Monk, CEO of Innos, said “Our headquarters at the adjacent Gower Building were unaffected by the fire. It is clear the effects of the blaze upon our cleanroom and equipment, that was housed in the Mountbatten Building, has had a major impact on our ability to complete processing and production from this site. However we have been quick to implement emergency procedures and are working closely with cleanrooms across the UK to transfer existing and new projects to these facilities, whilst the full situation is assessed.”
“We will be speaking with all of our customers over the next few days to ensure that everyone is kept fully informed of events,” added Monk stresses that the skills and expertise that has established Innos as the UK’s leading research and development company, delivering expertise in silicon, MEMS and nanotechnologies remain unaffected.”
Innos was established in April 2004 and its production facilities share a building with the University's school of Electronics and Computer Science and the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC). It has invested in equipment and been successful in securing significant contracts.
Professor David Payne CBE FRS, Director of the ORC, said “It is a great relief that nobody was injured by the fire. We are now putting in place our contingency plans, and thanks to the generosity of several local companies, we can look forward to quickly resuming the research projects that have been affected.”
The ORC has long-standing relationships with several local photonics companies. Already, several of these companies have offered access to facilities similar to those that have been affected by the fire. Half of the ORC facilities are located in the Physics building, and researchers based in there are resuming work as normal this morning.
Payne added, “This is of course a blow to us, but it is also an opportunity to rebuild for the future. The research carried out here over the last 40 years has changed the world. We are working with our friends and partner organisations locally and across the UK to make sure this research carries on unabated.”
Professor Bill Wakeham, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton has pledged that the internationally renowned research facilities lost in the fire will be rebuilt. The University’s Secretary and Registrar John Lauwerys, said, “Our concern now is to make sure that staff and research students are given every help to re-establish their academic work as soon as possible so that their research can continue.”
Hampshire Fire and Rescue have now left the scene of the fire and handed the site over to the University. It will not be safe to enter the Mountbatten Building for some days, so the full damage and the extent of the loss in terms of research material is not yet known. The cause of the fire is not yet known.