Many thanks to James Regan from Effect Photonics, who talked about Torbay’s vibrant electronic and photonics community at last month’s breakfast meeting.
Ever since STC opened in Paignton in 1970s, there has been a strong local hi-tech community. The surge continued with ITT and Bookham before Nortel moved its optical components facility to Paignton. Nortel employed 6,000 people at its peak, so it devastated the area when they closed.
Out of adversity grows opportunity and as many hi tech people didn’t want to leave the beautiful bay, smaller hi tech companies set up and started to grow – Oclaro, Bay Photonics, Spirent, Syntech and Gooch & Housego.
More recently, Effect Photonics was born – helped by the TDA, Torbay Council, the Heart of SWLEP and Innovate UK. The company enables photonic integration technology for mobile networks and datacentres.
Basing themselves in Brixham, on the old Astra Zeneca site, the company have now finished the R&D phase and are starting to manufacture. They have established a packaging ‘Centre of Excellence’ at the Brixham site with their HQ in Eindhoven.
Said James; “The critical issue for our growth will be attracting and developing the right skills. Within our first year, we have grown to 30 employees and are expected to increase to 80 by next year. We work closely with South Devon College and employ 4 apprentices, but we could certainly employ more”.