Industry Event
Launch of the Opening Up Photonics Initiative
29 September 2021 • 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM BST 

Opening up Photonics, a partnership between Photonics Scotland, University of Glasgow, Institute of Physics and KTN, is a platform supporting the photonics industry to discuss, challenge and address as a community, barriers faced by minority groups, with the aim of increasing accessibility, championing diversity, and ensuring a welcoming and supportive environment for all.

Diversity is critical to the growth and development of the talent pool in photonics. It helps organisations attract and retain the best and brightest talent. It makes organisations more adaptable, helps avoid group-think, and contributes to disrupting the status quo. Diversity is good for business because different perspectives drive innovation, accelerate growth, and lead to more robust decisions and outcomes. Simply it is the right thing to do.

Join us at our launch event to learn more about the Opening up Photonics initiative, our aims and objectives, input from industry supporters, and how you can get involved and show your support.

Overview Agenda:

10:30: Chair Welcome
10:35: The Opening up Photonics Initiative
10:45: Opening Remarks from Panelists
11:00: Q&A Panel Session
11:25: Close


Alison McLure, Head of IOP Scotland

Alison is the Head of the IOP’s team in Scotland and is responsible for delivering the IOP’s strategy in Scotland. Her focus is to ensure that the IOP’s programmes are full implemented in Scotland so that everyone can benefit from the amazing opportunities that physics provides. She joined the IOP in 2005 as National Officer (Scotland) and has increased the impact of the IOP in Scotland in that time.

As a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, Alison worked for the Meteorological Office for ten years, after graduating in physics from the University of Aberdeen. Her variety of jobs included researching and developing instruments for the tops of mountains and forecasting the weather for the RAF, the BBC and British Antarctic Survey. She built her business skills by running a yacht marina in the West Coast of Scotland, before returning to the city to join the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department to work in farming policy. She also worked for the Scottish Leadership Foundation as their People Exchange Manager, before joining the Institute of Physics.

She has a postgraduate Diploma in Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education and in her spare time can be found doing citizen science surveys of birds, bumblebees and butterflies. She also has a love of cold places and in her holidays has led young people on expeditions to the Arctic and the Antarctic.


Alison McLeod, Senior Programme Manager (Photonics), Technology Scotland

Alison has 18 years of experience working in academic, industrial and consultancy roles. After achieving her PhD in Photonics she worked as a Research Associate before leaving academia and joining industry in the role of technical sales/account manager in the health physics and photonics sectors. Alison then moved to a role dedicated to project management and proposal writing for EU funded projects, gaining extensive experience across a wide variety of research topics.

Alison is Technology Scotland's Senior Programme Manager (Photonics). Alison is responsible for the Photonics Scotland network; connecting members with the support they need, fostering cross-collaboration, representing the interests of the network and sector to Government as well as planning and running specific events and activities for the Photonics Scotland network and beyond.

Kirsty Annand, External Engagement Manager, PIADS CDT Queens University Belfast and University of Glasgow

Kirsty graduated in 2018 with a PhD in Materials and Condensed Matter Physics from the University of Glasgow. After some time as a postdoctoral researcher, Kirsty moved in to a Knowledge Exchange Associate role, where she developed and enhanced long-term and sustainable KE partnerships with companies and other stakeholders in the area of semiconductor photonics.

Realising her strengths lay in building relationships and projects across the boundaries of academia and industry, Kirsty now works to promote the research and capability of the EPSRC and SFI Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Photonic Integration and Advanced Data Storage. As the Centre’s External Engagement Manager, she is responsible for internal engagement with their ~100 students and academic staff, external engagement with their 30+ external partners, and also coordinates their External Engagement and Outreach agenda.

She is passionate about enthusing and educating young people about photonics and championing young women and girls in this field, and is excited to play some small part in developing and championing the future photonics workforce.

Shahida Imani, Chief Executive Officer, Chromacity

Shahida Imani is a graduate of Heriot Watt University and a Chartered Management Accountant. Between 1996 and 2001 she was employed by Optos, a medical technology company specialising in the imaging of the retina, from 1996 – 2001, as Financial Controller.

From 2002-2005 Shahida was Group Financial Controller at Voxar, a 3D medical imaging company and in 2008 she set up her own consultancy company providing portfolio CFO/COO services to a number of high tech companies, specialising in high growth and M&A (Odos Imaging, Sumdog, Lab901, Mpathy Medical). Odos was sold to US listed company Rockwell Automation Inc, Voxar was sold to Belguim co Barco Bv but is now owned by Canon Medical.

Shahida was appointed CEO of Chromacity in August 2018, an ultrafast fibre laser manufacturer based in Scotland.

Neil Martin, Chief Executive Officer, Vector Photonics

Neil Martin is a founding member of Vector Photonics, producer of PCSEL-based, III-V semiconductor lasers – the most significant innovation in laser design and manufacture for 30 years.

Vector Photonics is a spin out of the University of Glasgow. Its PCSELs are low cost, robust, have a broad wavelength range and high power – a unique combination of key characteristics which gives them a huge advantage over all other semiconductor laser technologies used today.

Neil was instrumental in Vector Photonics achieving a £1.6m equity investment, alongside government funding which took its total seed funding round to over £4m. Before that, Neil was CEO and founding member of CST Global, a compound semiconductor fab. This was another successful spin out of the University of Glasgow, which he took into private sector ownership in 2017.

Neil has held senior marketing and design roles in blue-chip, semiconductor companies. He has a background in design, international product management and marketing. He brings natural leadership and wide technical and commercial experience to Vector Photonics.

Rachel Moir, Head of Skills Programmes, National Manufacturing Institute Scotland

Rachel joined the National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS) in August as the Head of Skills Programmes for the Manufacturing Skills Academy (MSA) and is responsible for leading the development and delivery of NMIS education, training and skills programmes. Since obtaining her MSci In Forensic and Analytical Chemistry and MSc in Environmental Studies, both from the University of Strathclyde, Rachel has gained over 15 years' experience working as a programme and project manager in the public, private and third sectors including leading the highly successful skills programme at the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre. In addition to management experience, Rachel has also worked in a technical capacity as a commercial consultant with expertise in policy development, training delivery, waste management, contaminated land assessment, pollution control and environmental legislation.

NMIS is a bold and ambitious industry-centred project to create an international centre of advanced manufacturing expertise and excellence where industry, academia and public-sector support agencies work together to transform skills, productivity and innovation, making Scotland and the UK a global leader in advanced manufacturing. NMIS will encompass a dedicated facility that will house the MSA, Digital Factory 2050 and the Innovation Collaboratory. Along with this dedicated new facility, existing and developing research centres will also be part of the broader NMIS Group including the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) and the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre (LMC).