Glasgow spin-out leads next-generation semiconductor technology

Published: 28 June 2007

IP Group plc, the intellectual property commercialisation company, and Synergy Fund managed by Scottish Equity Partners (SEP) have announced an investment of up to £400,000 in a University of Glasgow spin-out company.

IP Group plc, the intellectual property commercialisation company, and Synergy Fund managed by Scottish Equity Partners (SEP) have announced an investment of up to £400,000 in a University of Glasgow spin-out company.

XanIC Limited is the new spin-out from the University’s Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering. The company is commercialising a new semiconductor process technology which enables the design and manufacture of a range of high performance components that will enable new applications in the areas of imaging, sensing, communications, security and safety systems.

Industry demand continues to grow for systems operating at higher and higher speeds and existing semiconductor technologies are reaching their physical limits of performance. XanIC’s technology overcomes these limitations, allowing high frequency components to be produced, which are crucial to a wealth of next generation applications such as enhanced airport security scanners, aircraft landing systems, smart buildings with in-built safety features and ultra-high data rate communications links.

Over the last 10 years, a team, led by Professor Iain Thayne and Dr Khaled Elgaid at the University of Glasgow’s Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, has been at the forefront of global research to find new semiconductor materials and process technologies to enable emerging applications. As a result of these efforts integrated circuit components with maximum operating frequencies of up to 500 GHz – more than 100 times the speed of the fastest computer chips available today - have been demonstrated by the Glasgow team. XanIC’s first product will be a 94 GHz Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) which has applications in a range of security systems where boosting the speed and quality of images is key to widespread deployment.

Investment for XanIC is being made by IP Group plc (LSE: IPO) (“IP Group”), the intellectual property commercialisation company, and the Glasgow /Strathclyde University Synergy Fund managed by Scottish Equity Partners (“SEP”). IP Group, which announced its new partnership with the University of Glasgow last October, will invest up to £280,000 in XanIC alongside up to £120,000 from the Synergy Fund subject to the company meeting agreed milestones.

The technology received Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept funding from 2001 - 2003 followed by pre-incorporation funding from the Synergy Fund. In July 2006 Nick Wood was brought-in part-time under the Scottish Enterprise Glasgow/ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) CEO Designate programme, as Interim Chief Executive Officer. Mr Wood is a serial entrepreneur and a founder of Sagentia, the UK listed technology group. Through his incubation company, daVinci Ventures Limited, Mr Wood now specialises in technology commercialisation, working with University spin-outs and start-up companies around the UK.

The CEO Designate program was devised by the universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde and Caledonian along with Scottish Enterprise Glasgow and secured funding from ERDF. The programme was set up in 2005 to enable the universities to hire CEO’s pre-incorporation to lead the development of spin-out ventures and to manage the businesses through the early stages of their formation. XanIC is the second of four projects supported at the University of Glasgow.

Alan Aubrey, Chief Executive of IP Group, said: “It is particularly pleasing to be making our second investment in a Glasgow spin-out company as we are only eight months into our 25-year partnership with the University of Glasgow. XanIC is targeting an exciting and growth market with world class technology. ”

Professor Steve Beaumont, VP Research & Enterprise, commented: “XanIC is representative of almost 30 years of nanotechnology research in Glasgow and in the last 10 years, of turning some of that technology into high performance electronic devices. We are delighted that this research is now finding a route to the marketplace, which now demands the high performance Glasgow’s technology can deliver.”

Nick Wood, Chief Executive of XanIC, said: “There is a huge amount of commercial interest in XanIC’s technology and products, which will deliver a step change in the cost and performance of next-generation security systems. This is a really exciting opportunity, establishing the UK at the heart of semiconductor development and I am delighted to be leading it.”

Rob Moffat, Investment Manager, Synergy Fund said “We are delighted to further support Professor Thayne's team and that they have been able to secure new funding and experienced management. With customer interest already growing we look forward to seeing their revolutionary products' impact on the market”

See University of Glasgow's Research and Enterprise website.

Martin Shannon (

First published: 28 June 2007

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