Global engineering company acquires Strathclyde physics spin-out

A University of Strathclyde spin-out company specialising in gas analysis has been acquired by a global engineering and technology firm.

Cascade Technologies originated in Strathclyde’s Department of Physics, and in Strathclyde’s largest spin-out company sale, Cascade has been acquired by US-based firm Emerson.

Cascade uses innovative Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) technology capable of measuring multiple gases simultaneously – helping companies to improve industrial emissions monitoring, production efficiencies and environmental compliance. Emerson is expanding its analytical measurement capabilities by adding QCL to its Rosemount Analytical® gas analysis portfolio.

Stirling-based Cascade originated in Strathclyde’s Department of Physics, through the work of the principal academics Professor Geoff Duxbury and Dr Nigel Langford and research student Erwan Normand.

Professor Duxbury said: “The University is committed to ensuring our world-leading research has an impact on wider society – working with business and industry to turn innovative ideas into practical solutions for global challenges.”

Dr Langford added: “We are delighted that this commitment has helped give rise to such a thriving business, and that the support of so many stakeholders has been rewarded.

 “The agreement represents the largest single return achieved by the University from the sale of one of its spin-out companies.”

Dr David McBeth, Director of Research & Knowledge Exchange Services at Strathclyde, said: “Cascade Technologies Ltd was born in the University’s Department of Physics over 10 years ago when EPSRC-funded PhD student Erwan Normand saw the commercial potential of quantum cascade lasers.

 “The University’s Research & Knowledge Exchange Services Directorate and Strathclyde University Incubator Ltd nurtured the company, and the University has worked closely with Cascade on a number of subsequent projects.

 “Cascade was the first exemplar of a student-led technology spin-out from Strathclyde and helped validate the models that have gained national recognition via our Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network – SEN was one of the key factors in our recognition as Times Higher Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2013/2014.”

QCL technology provides a step change in performance of gas analysers through its increased sensitivity, speed of response, and fingerprinting capability. These technology advancements in the gas analysis market space provide a powerful solution for customers in various industries such as petrochemical, food and beverage, marine, automotive and pharmaceutical. 

Tom Moser, group vice president of Emerson Process Management’s measurement and analytical businesses, said: “The acquisition of Cascade Technologies is an exciting step as we further strengthen our gas analysis portfolio. Our customers depend upon Emerson to solve their toughest analytical measurement problems. We are now better positioned to serve that need.”

Dr Iain Howieson, chief executive officer of Cascade Technologies Ltd, said: “Joining a global leader like Emerson represents an incredible opportunity for business growth. Emerson’s global presence and market leadership will have an immediate impact on the adoption of cutting edge QCL gas analysers and monitoring systems.”

Strathclyde has formed more than 50 spin-out companies, of which around 40 are still trading, making sales of £80 million per annum and employing around 800 people. An independent study by BiGGAR Economics shows that the University’s unique research collaborations will contribute nearly £1.4 billion to the Scottish economy over the next 10 years.

23 December 2014