Qi3 – Quality, Insight, Integrity & Innovation - UNITING TECHNOLOGY & MARKETING

University of Birmingham


Video Imaging Homodyne Interferometer (VIHI)

The research group of Professor Clive Speake in the School of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Birmingham has an established international reputation for delivering innovative optical instruments for precision measurement. As part of a major research programme in gravity, they have developed a new interferometer measurement device with the capability to measure the surface roughness and form of reflecting surfaces with nm resolution. The device will also measure surfaces in dynamic motion, for example, when under operational test or moving rapidly on a production line.

Prof Speake planned to make an application to the STFC Follow on Fund (FoF) for further development of this new interferometer measurement device and a clear understanding of the market opportunity was required to support the funding application.

Alta Innovations, the commercialisation organisation of the University of Birmingham also needed a clear understanding of the market for interferometer devices and precision measurement to assist in its efforts to find routes to market for the technologies under development in Prof Speake’s research group. After exploratory discussions, Qi3 was selected to provide the necessary market inputs to support both requirements.

Qi3 reviewed the overall surface metrology market, and then undertook a series of interviews with Key Opinion Leaders to understand the positioning, value proposition, and the ability of the VIHI technology to disrupt the market. Feedback from the KOLs and desk research established that while the market was very mature, there are a number of major market needs and drivers for improvement. The project developed a ‘value proposition’ and ‘virtual product specification’ for the VIHI technology which, if they can be achieved, will enable a $100m+ market opportunity.

Finally the project identified two organisations with domain expertise in surface metrology that are interested in working with Prof Speake. The University continues to seek a business partner in this area to engage in collaborative development.

The project also established a clear funding strategy to enable the technology to be taken from TRL 1-3 to TRL 7-9 in preparation for launch to market.

“Qi3 rapidly grasped the intricacies of the VIHI technology and its applications and undertook a well-defined package of work with a very high degree of efficiency. The information was clearly presented and the data, its interpretation and Qi3’s recommendations will be invaluable as we consider the future commercialisation path of this technology.”

– Alan Tibbatts, Alta Innovations, University of Birmingham

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