Partners in Cupid target industry

January 19, 2001

Cupid, a new Scottish university consortium, is hoping to spark a romance with industry that could make the United Kingdom a world leader in display technology.

Visual displays on machines are becoming increasingly important, whether for mobile phones, microwave ovens or rear-projection televisions, and the race is on worldwide to develop the underlying technology.

The Combined University Partnership with Industry in Displays is an alliance between Abertay Dundee, Dundee, Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Napier universities and the Scottish Optoelectronics Association, which promotes links between higher education and companies.

Cupid has won £150,000 of seed funding from Scottish Enterprise for centres in Dundee and Edinburgh that will promote academic expertise to industry.

Allan Gillespie, professor of photonics at Abertay and director of its Electronic, Photonic and Information Control Centre (Epicentre), said: "We need all five university partners to make the whole thing work. This is far too big and expensive a field for individual universities to cover, and we are pooling our expertise."

Professor Gillespie stressed that the consortium was "very open" to approaches from other institutions in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Cupid members are already part of a wider UK consortium, supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, to run MSc training packages in display technology.

Professor Gillespie said technician training was also being developed. "We don't just help industry by doing research," he said.

Michael McGuinness, of the Scottish Enterprise optoelectronics team, said:

"The main benefit we see from Cupid is to bring the synergy of different departments together in a single point of contact to help industry and bodies like us understand what are the key developments in the technology.

"Various departments have key specialisms, and the whole point is to get a critical mass of activity in the display field."

Mr McGuinness said Cupid would bolster qualifications in display technology and raise Scotland's profile. It would be able to build on Scotland's expertise in the semiconductor industry.

"We think Scotland has an advantage in very small microdisplays, which comes from our expertise in microelectronics," he said.

These could be tiny displays, invisible to the naked eye until they were seen through special screens.

"Display technology is all-pervasive, in every element of life today, and people expect to see information on a screen that is visual and easy to understand," he said.

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