Tech Track 100

SPI develops and manufactures lasers using optical fibres the width of a human hair, but their beams can be powerful enough to cut through steel. They have a variety of applications in industry from materials processing to the manufacture of artery springs called stents. SPI’s parent company is registered in America but it was founded in 1999 as a spin-out from Professor David Payne’s optical-fibre research group at Southampton University. It raised more than £30m in venture-capital funding to develop optical filters for use in telecoms, but after a severe downturn in the telecoms industry, a new chief executive, David Parker, was installed in 2002. He refocused the company on laser development.

With the first lasers being sold in the latter half of last year, sales have risen 128% a year from £195,000 in 2001 to £1m in 2003, when the company made a substantial loss.

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Company details
ActivityLaser developerf
Average 3 year sales growth127.58%
Latest sales £000s*1,010

If applicable:

* supplied by company † annualised figure