What differentiates your company from others in the industry?
There are long standing and established large companies that do cryogenic equipment, for instance like Air Liquide, Oxford Instruments, BOC as well as a number of companies on the continent and in the States — but none of them do quite what we do, or in the way that we do it.
Most of these companies tend to build fairly large, elaborate systems which cost a huge amount of money. We build smaller, simpler systems that cost slightly less, are much easier to run and are more self-contained and portable. In that respect we do have quite a distinct USP.
Unlike many companies, we spend about 50% of our time and resources on research and development. That’s partly because our customer base is expanding and changing so rapidly. For many years, it was almost entirely the global astronomy community — in particular infrared astronomy, which tends to focus on the early universe and galaxy formation, star formation — topics of that nature.
But of course more recently we’ve been getting more commercial interest from people doing things like single photon detection of quantum key corruption, quantum computing, and so on. There’s a great deal of potential growth in these areas.