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Experts join forces better to diagnose eye diseases

RETINAL imaging company Optos is collaborating with Scottish academics to develop cutting-edge new technologies.

The stockmarket-listed business is working with Glasgow University's specialist imaging concepts group which is led by Professor Andy Harvey.

The joint project came about after £50,000 was secured from Censis, the Scottish innovation centre for sensor and imaging systems.

The researchers are looking at ways to improve the quality of images of the eye in order to make it easier to diagnose conditions including eye diseases and tumours.

Optos, headed by chief executive Roy Davis, already provides a number of its products to markets around the world and is gearing up for two new device launches in 2015.

However, any tangible technology breakthroughs which come out of Glasgow University are likely to be added into Optos' product development cycle over the longer term.

Jano van Hemert, imaging research manager and academic liaison at Optos, said: "We're working in a very competitive environment and we expect to remain at the forefront of the sector with continuous research and improvement of our technology.

"The outcome of the Censis funding for this research project is expected to be a number of credible candidates to be taken forward internally with a view to implementing one of those in our existing product base."

Optos, which has its headquarters and research and development facility in Dunfermline, Fife, said it was hopeful of further partnerships with academia in the future.

Alex Warnock, chief operating officer, said: "Success in this project will lead to significant further collaboration between Optos and the University of Glasgow in the development of this and other new products.

"It will also give us the confidence to engage academic partners more closely in our ongoing [research and development] strategy."

Glasgow University's Professor Harvey said he was hopeful there would be a number of benefits that come out of the collaboration.

He said: "The partnership with CENSIS and Optos will promote interaction between universities and industry, while also helping to bring a new and commercially viable technology to market.

"Projects like this are extremely important for the future of Scotland's technology industry, since they provide our doctoral students with valuable experience of how the research they conduct can be used to drive commercial and economic benefit on a broader scale."

Censis, which is based at Glasgow University, was formed in April last year and received around £10 million from the Scottish Funding Council to back its activities.

Censis hopes to deliver around 150 projects over the next five years.

The organisation also gets support from the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise.

Ian Reid, chief executive of Censis, said: "A successful outcome from this project will mean significant business growth and market security for Optos, while giving the team at University of Glasgow invaluable contact with a key local company of growing scale, and extending their expertise and exploitation track records."

Earlier this month Optos reported its pre-tax profits had more than doubled from $700,000 to $1.6m for the six months to March 31 on the back of improved margins and lower costs.

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