SCOTLAND’s £740 million-a-year laser technology sector will continue to “punch above its weight” after a £5m boost from the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise (SE).

The funding will go to the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics (FhCAP) in Glasgow and will allow it to take on 10 more scientists and 10 students.

Scientists at the non-profit centre – which is said to be at the core of the industry in Scotland – work alongside businesses in several areas, including renewable energy, security, defence and health care.

Paul Wheelhouse, the Innovation Minister, who announced the funding, said it would allow FhCAP and Scotland’s “thriving” photonics industry to continue to grow.

“Photonics is a key enabling technology and Scotland punches above its weight with a thriving, globally-competitive sector, with the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics at its heart,” he said.

“Their range of expertise and services is unique in the UK and Glasgow was chosen by the internationally respected Fraunhofer Institute as their European location to build on the considerable Scottish strengths in advanced photonics.

“This investment will allow Fh-CAP and Scotland’s thriving photonics industry, to continue to grow, and is evidence of the Scottish Government’s strong commitment to supporting our science and research communities and to continuing to establish and nurture research linkages within Europe.”

Simon Andrews, executive director of Fraunhofer UK Research, said: “This most welcome and continued investment confirms that our work has proven hugely successful. We have, too, a repeat and growing customer base. The European Space Agency is, for instance, awarding us leading roles in their cutting-edge quantum technologies projects. The backing of the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise (SE) is a crucial part of the model and allows our not-for-profit organisation to focus on its role – innovation for industry.”

David Smith of SE said: “We’re pleased to invest in this next phase of activity to unlock even more opportunity for Scottish companies to develop new products and processes which will enable them to compete in worldwide markets.”

FhCAP is based in the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre, which fosters the development of research, innovation and technology.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Strathclyde’s principal, added: “This funding announcement reflects its continuing success and impact at the heart of Glasgow City Innovation District, the city’s network of companies, organisations and academia for exchanging and generating new ideas.”