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Fibre-optics looking even better after cash investment for Indigo.

A grant from European-backed scheme Montage has helped a Birmingham high-tech company secure a pounds 4 million investment.

The investment comes from venture capitalist 3i Group and it forges a unique link with Aston University, it was announced yesterday.

The Montage grant to Indigo Photonics, based at Aston Science Park, funded the development of a measuring unit for the next generation of fibre-optic communications and extended its expertise in optical filters,

They are used to separate the different channels in the optical fibre.

The technology has been developed by the company, working with experts at the university.

Montage is run by a consortium of West Midland universities, led by Coventry

University Enterprises which helps small and medium sized companies in the region tap into technological and manufacturing expertise as well as research and development opportunities.

Encouragement is also given to companies to look to higher education for additional short term capacity when the need arises

Their pounds 24,000 grant to Indigo, along with the opportunity to work with Aston University's photonics department, has led to the company being at the forefront of the multi-million fibre optic industry.

Indigo specialises in optical components for the high-speed transmission of data without any loss of quality. Its main customers are manufacturers of fibre optic transmission systems.

Indigo business development director Ian Murgatroyd said the grant had been invaluable for the company.

He said, 'By giving us the opportunity to work with Aston University it allowed us to do something we could not have done on our own and it gave 3i the confidence to invest in us.

'Subsequently we have formed Indigo Photonics as a joint venture between the commercial company and Aston University's photonics group, securing significant first round funding from a major venture capitalist,' said Mr Murgatroyd.

Montage project officer Michael Bolwell said the grant had many benefits for the region.

The grant helped Indigo and Aston University, and also assisted the Technology Innovation Centre at the University of Central England to participate in the newly formed photonics cluster, thus enabling the TIC to develop its skills in the photonics field and be in a position to provide more teaching in this specialised

area.

Indigo is one of more than 400 businesses in the region to be helped by

Montage.

Montage (Meeting Organisations' Needs Through Audits, Grants and Exploration) is a

consortium headed by Coventry University Enterprises Ltd and which includes the University of Central

England in Birmingham, the Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick, the University of

Wolverhampton and the Staffordshire and Black Country Business Innovation Centre.

The project is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund. As well as grants aimed at

stimulating investment in innovation, Montage provides a range of subsidised services. These include technology and innovation audits to analyse the potential for new technology in a companyis products and processes, and Technology Watch which helps businesses through a worldwide search for information on specific technologies, materials and research and development. To qualify for assistance, companies must have fewer than 250 employees, a turnover of less then pounds 27 million a year, and be located in the West Midlands.

Drive by wire: Grant helps research tie-up

CAPTION(S):

Holding a piece of fibre optic cable are Michael Bolwell, Montage project officer and Ian Murgatroyd, business development officer at Indigo
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 13, 2001
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