A company using CLF-developed science to improve airport security systems has been named one of Britain’s most innovative companies.
Cobalt Light Systems won the Innovate UK’s inaugural Innovation Award for its scanning technology that detects the chemical contents of passengers’ unopened containers to prevent potentially explosive materials being smuggled onto aircraft.
The scanners use technology devised and patented at the Central Laser Facility.
Cobalt’s Chief Operating Officer, Craig Tombling said: “We’re extremely pleased to receive this award. It symbolises how targeted funding from Government to SMEs can contribute to world-beating technology and innovation.”
Cobalt’s Craig Tombling is congratulated by Jo Johnson
(Credit: Innovate UK)
Since its inception in 2008 Cobalt has received support and funding from the Government and from STFC to develop a prototype of its liquid scanner. The result was the Insight100, which can detect dangerous chemicals in unopened containers within a few seconds. The Insight100 is now installed in more than 70 airports in the UK and across Europe, with further deployments in Australia and South Korea.
Backed by further funding from Innovate UK, Cobalt is now about to launch the Insight200M, a more compact system with improved sensitivity. Insight200M has already met European aviation standards (ECAC Standard 3) and it has been designed to address the stringent environmental regulations and detection capabilities required for export to the US and worldwide.
Professor Pavel Matousek from the Central Laser Facility developed the original concept, known as Spatially Offset Raman Spectroscopy. He said: “Cobalt’s innovative products have gone from strength to strength and I’m really pleased that its latest product has been recognised once again as a leading innovation. It’s also gratifying from a personal viewpoint to see our early scientific work at STFC producing technology that is both versatile and effective in addressing some of the many grand challenges we face today.”
Over the past two years Cobalt Light Systems has doubled the number of people it employs, from 21 to 42, and uses a network of distributors across Europe who are trained to sell and distribute the scanners. As a consequence, Cobalt achieved a 5-fold growth in revenue between 2013 and 2014.
Presenting the prize yesterday at the Houses of Parliament, Minister of State for Universities and Science Jo Johnson praised Cobalt’s rapid growth and development of products. He said: “It's good to know that Cobalt's airport scanners are keeping people safe around the world.”