Business and innovation

IOP’s Accelerator Centre is officially open for business

Blog by Anne Crean CPhys FInstP, Head of Science and Innovation at IOP

Exactly how much does physics innovation contribute to the UK economy? Well every few years the Institute of Physics (IOP) commissions research to look at this area and our most recent research, carried out by Deloitte in 2016, revealed that physics innovation contributes £77billion to the UK economy every year - £220billion if you include the supply chain involved.


Four million people are employed, whether directly or indirectly, by the world of physics, many in high-value jobs which contribute handsomely to the UK’s economy – to the tune of almost 10% of GDP.

The IOP has a pivotal role to play in helping to support physics in business and industry in the UK and Ireland. As the professional body for physicists, one of our key strengths is the ability to bring together like-minded people to connect and explore ideas and IOP facilitates this in a number of ways. In February we held the IOP’s inaugural Business Innovation and Growth conference, at which physics businesses and physicists working in industry came together to hear how small, medium and large businesses have pioneered physics-based innovations and opened up growth markets.

It was a golden opportunity for IOP to connect physics, business, skills and funding and we’re always seeking ways to bring the new generation of physics-related businesses into the fold. IOP’s Business Awards, which have been running since 2012, recognise the significant contribution that physicists and physics make in industry – from start-ups to multi-national corporations. The awards are a celebration of entrepreneurship, excellence in innovation and the successful implementation of physics into a product or service. The Business Start-Up Award, a category newly launched last year, recognises and celebrates young companies with a great business idea founded on a physics invention, showing the potential for business growth and significant societal impact. Our first winners demonstrate the diverse economic reach of physics entrepreneurs across all sectors, from medtech to cleantech and beyond.

We’re now excited to announce our newest way of supporting early-stage physics innovation, IOP Accelerator. Based in our flagship new building in the heart of King’s Cross and London’s Knowledge Quarter, our affordable, fully-serviced workspace supports entrepreneurs, micro and small businesses bringing physics-based innovation to market in any sector. We want to help get the next big ideas in physics off the ground so we are offering an attractive base flexible enough to support companies in their crucial early stages of growth. As well as light, bright and modern fully-equipped office space, with rates as low as £35 per month, we are providing regular business support clinics to enable young physics companies to hone the skills crucial to success in today’s economy, such as accessing funding and delivering investor pitches.

Alongside this we have a lively business events programme, such as our inaugural Physics Innovation talk on 16 May, the International Day of Light, by Professor Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh, co-founder of pureLiFi and a 2017 IOP Business Award winner. Attendees will hear about the journey of building a successful UK physics tech company and how LiFi is disrupting the way the world connects with light – and will experience the technology demonstrated live in action in our brand-new Accelerator Centre.

IOP is looking for inspiring start-ups pushing the boundaries of physics innovation to come and take desk or office space in our Accelerator Centre. We’re keen to connect with companies that would benefit from capitalising on the wealth of the IOP’s network, business knowledge and skills training.  To promote genuine affordability for companies just starting out, fees are negotiable in return for service in-kind that will help us grow the new IOP Accelerator hub and a regional network. Come and join us in creating a dynamic, inclusive business ecosystem connecting innovators in science, technology and engineering all over the UK and Ireland.

We’re also looking to connect with our valued local community in Islington: IOP feels keenly its responsibility to help nurture, grow and accelerate businesses that can, in time, contribute to the economic profile of our new neighbourhood. Therefore it’s our genuine hope that, in time, our start-up hub will grow to be a buzzing hive of ideas and opportunities which may provide career pathways for local residents.

If you’re an entrepreneur or start-up working on a bringing a physics innovation to market, find out how we could help you.