22 Oct 2012

Open University receives Regional Growth Fund support for space technology

The Open University’s Centre for Electronic Imaging (CEI) has received £500k to further develop its CMOS technology and to boost job growth.

Already a sponsor of the CEI at the OU, technology firm e2v will be supplying £325k of the funding, with an additional £175k being invested by the OU. e2v will be making the investment out of the company’s grant of £3.8M from the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills (BIS) through its Regional Growth Fund (RGF).

Professor of Electro-Optics Andrew Holland, said: “At the CEI we are performing research into new imaging technologies with e2v, and this helps contribute to their export activity. This grant will develop the group’s capabilities in the new CMOS imagers for space applications, and will help create new jobs, both in e2v, the University and other support companies.”

The funding to CEI will be used to accelerate the development of expertise in CMOS image sensor technology, both in general and specifically for space base applications. CEI, in conjunction with e2v and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, plan to manufacture a prototype camera utilising a hyperspectral CMOS sensor for potential use in a space mission such as the UK Space Agency’s TechDemoSat.

CEI also expects that the funding will enable the department to expand its headcount; ensuring CEI will continue to evolve into a leader in CMOS technology research and training.

For more information about CEI, visit

Notes to the editor
About The Open University
The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.8 million students and has more than 263,000 current students, including over 15,000 overseas.

The OU came top for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey this year, and has been in the top three universities every year since the survey began in 2005. In 2011/12 it had a 93 per cent satisfaction rating. Over 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and four out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.

In the UK’s latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) the Open University was ranked in the top third of UK higher education institutions. More than 50% of OU research was assessed in the RAE as internationally excellent, with 14% as world leading.

Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, which has had more than 23 million visits, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded over 56 million downloads. The OU has a 41 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Frozen Planet, Bang Goes the Theory, James May’s Big Ideas and The Money Programme.

About the Regional Growth Fund
BIS is currently in the process of allocating £1bn in Round 3 of RGF, which are being awarded throughout the autumn in order to encourage jobs growth. The first two rounds of RGF grants will leverage roughly £7.5bn for UK business, and is estimated to deliver around 330,000 jobs in a range of sectors.

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