Tom Black

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Tom Black is Executive Chairman of Digital Barriers plc. He received his BSc (Hons) in Applied Physics at Strathclyde in 1981.
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I studied physics because I have a general fascination with how the world around me works and I gain great a satisfaction from understanding the rules by which everything operates. Physics is a great basis in that it’s an academically respectable topic with which to demonstrate your intellectual credentials. More importantly, my degree taught me the scientific method of analysing problems and made me a rigorous analytic thinker.

In my time at Strathclyde, I enjoyed the unfettered access to very high quality staff (then led by the late Edward Eisner) and also the very high quality of the peer group who studied with me.

I left Strathclyde in 1981 and went on to complete a DPhil in the Materials Dept at the University of Oxford entitled "Fundamental aspects of radiation damage in Cu3Au". My interest in radiation damage had been aroused by my final year project at Strathclyde, which was undertaken at JRC Ispra.

On leaving university in 1984 I joined Detica (then called Smith Associates) ( This was then a small defence research business (about 30 staff) that carried out research under contract for the UK government, mainly in electromagnetic and acoustic sensors & signatures and advanced information processing and communications. During those early days I undertook an exciting range of projects including flying on anti-submarine warfare missions when testing algorithms for submarine detection and tracking.  I stayed with the business for over 20 years  during which time we changed it considerably for the internet age to focus mainly on the analysis of large and complex data sets to solve problems for the Intelligence Community. In 1997, I led the management buyout of the founders and the flotation on the London Stock Exchange in 2002. By the time we were acquired by BAeSystems in 2008 we employed 1700 people in the UK & US and were recognised as one of the UK's premier high-technology champions. 

Soon after leaving Detica in 2009 I founded Digital Barriers which specialises in providing advanced surveillance technologies to international defence and homeland security customers. Our solutions cover video surveillance and facial recognition, body scanning and covert ground sensors. Although a relatively new company we already have over 200 staff and are active in 30 countries.

Away from work, my time is mainly spent with my family in Hampshire, assisting other small business start-ups and indulging my passion for motor racing (