Submission from e2v
e2v has space sales of circa £15
million per annum from a total of circa £112 million
from its UK operations. Science driven sales of image sensors
for advanced instrumentation have succeeded very well and UK/ESA
space funding has been pivotal in enabling e2v to reach a recognized
position as a global leader in this technology. Regrettably where
no science driver exists market failure is evident. e2v believes
there remain market opportunities that are not addressed early
on and that could have a major economic impact given, for example,
an appropriate early stage R&D funding schemeprioritized
by future economic impact not solely science return.
1. e2v technologies (www.e2v.com) is a world
leading supplier of specialist electronic components based on
semiconductors and vacuum electronic tubes. In annualised terms
circa £112 million of its £180 million sales
originate from UK manufacturing activities based in Chelmsford
(~1,000 people) or Lincoln (~200 people).
2. In the 12 months to March 2006 space-related
sales amounted to circa £10 million mainly comprising
custom image sensor chips (silicon CCD image sensors) for world
leading spacecraft imaging instruments. Customers and end users
include NASA (Wide Field Camera3 for Hubble), Astrium,
Alcatel, Lockheed, Ball Aerospace, JAXA, CNES and ESA. Being programme-driven
this sales number varies year to year but circa £10
million per annum. is a good average across circa five
to 10 programmes in various phases. The global leading position
of this space image sensor business is recognized by our customers
3. Through the early 80s the business originating
from ESA science activities has been pivotal in the development
of the world leading position for e2veg on ENVISAT (Ozone
monitor sensor "GOMOS" and two others) and XMM with
Leicester University. This has culminated with in 2005-06 the
placement directly from ESA of a contract directly with e2v for
the mission critical CCD image sensors totalling 19.9 million
for the ESA-GAIA star mapping mission.
4. A direct result of the UK/ESA funding
of science missions is the sustained demand for leading edge image
sensor technology to satisfy the needs of the newest scientific
instruments. This has been a major underpin for the continuing
development of improved baseline capability that is at the heart
of our circa £30 million per annum overall UK imaging business.
For further clarity the UK/ESA annual requirements that have typically
ranged from circa 1 million to circa 3
million per annum (GAIA being a major current blip) has been leveraged
(a) Attracting NASA/JAXA and other national
funded science sensors (eg Hubble, Hinode, Hirise on Mars Explorer,
(b) Commercial space craft attitude control
sensors ("star sensors").
(c) Spin off supporting terrestrial astronomy,
life science and commercial image sensing.
(d) Spin off supporting a major product line
in dental imaging.
5. The importance of the space business
to driving the technology in this area is extremely high and this
ahs led to the growth of our UK imaging business which now employs
circa 200 people (mostly highly trained graduates/semiconductor
6. Reason for success in this area are:
(a) A business focus on specialist niche
(b) Critically, an effective funding mechanism
for early stage R&D into new sensors exists:
(i) PPARC or ESA fund space primes or University
groups (eg Leicester or Brunel or MSSL);
(ii) Space primes or University groups fund e2v;
(iii) The instrument part of the space mission
is seen as interesting and high profile and is easy to get funding
for (close to the science).
7. e2vBrunel University collaboration:
the "e2v Centre for electronic imaging". To secure
skilled PhD qualified engineers for the imaging business, and
to develop jointly new technologies/applications e2v has committed
circa £100k per annum to Brunel to maintain and grow
a team of talented image sensors specialists. This support covers
50% of the salary of Professor Andrew Holland (relocated from
Leicester) and the industrial sponsorship for the mainly PPARC
provided team of circa six off CASE studentships. This
is all matched by Brunel providing infrastructure and salaries
for RAs and support staff. This arrangement has been in place
for three years now and the group has secured leading roles in
a number of space instruments including support work for GAIA
and a lead in some AURORA Mars mission instrument concepts.
8. In a second area of business there have
been some technology development contracts (GSTP/ARTES) for advanced
technology in satellite communication uplink amplifiers. This
has helped develop a circa £4 million per annum business
in ground segment equipment. Importantly this capability was
directly responsible for e2v's ability to produce quickly some
electronic equipment for a recent UK MOD requirement (2005 and
2006)resulting in sales of >£12 million. Further
defence-related derivatives are possible.
9. Market Failures.
10. Whilst the above successes in space
are notable there is in our view a major problem. This is in the
area of non-science related new technologies. We believe that
had simple, visible mechanisms been in place to encourage, drive
and support some of the less scientifically appealing building
blocks for space infrastructure e2v could have accessed additional
market sectors. For example:
(a) During the 1980s: Space TWTs ("Travelling
Wave Tubes") for space segment microwave applicationsmissed
opportunity circa £50 million per annum?
(b) High temperature semiconductorseg
Gallium Nitride. This technology has been more significantly developed
and invested in within the USA and Japan. There are major spin
off applications in high temperature/high voltage electronics
for both automotive and high power traction applicationsmissed
opportunity 100s of £ million? ESA have recently recognized
this and are now making some TRP money available.
11. A conclusion to address the above is
to increase the scale of early stage R&D and assess applications
by economic impact as a worthy measure rather than science outcome
as an almost overwhelming consideration. A national programme
of early technology demonstration to augment ESA is recommended
by this author.