CST Global

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by CST Global's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from CST Global is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Neil Martin, CEO
Automatic bar stacker
CST Global, based in Blantyre, near Glasgow, produces III-V
compound semiconductor laser devices for the fabrication
of a broad range of photonics products, used in items
such as touch screens, facial recognition hardware and mobile
communications devices. It provides a custom foundry service,
alongside the manufacture of a range of high-volume standard
laser devices. The laser devices it produces serve the optical
telecoms, cloud computing, defence, sensing, industrial, retail and
healthcare markets. Neil Martin, CEO of CST Global, explains its
history and recent achievements.
In 2017, we expanded our state-of-the-art production facility by 30 per cent. We
then went on to achieve an incredible 88 per cent growth to £6.7 million turnover,
employing 69 staff. We now produce almost two million laser devices a month and are
an industrial partner in 14 government-funded UK and European Technology Consortia
development projects. Over 90 per cent of our devices are exported worldwide
and our customers are some of the largest and most high-profile companies in
The photonics market
The worldwide photonics market is experiencing exponential growth. It is a huge
growth sector in the UK, with 1,500 companies employing more than 70,000
people. Its economic impact is impressive, bearing a sustained growth of 6 per cent
to 8 per cent per year over the last three decades, with an annual output of nearly
£13 billion.
»CEO: Neil Martin
»Established in 2000
»Based in Blantyre, near
»Services: Production of III-V
compound semiconductor
laser devices
»No. of employees: 69
»Turnover: £6.7 million
»90 per cent of their products
are exported
CST Global
Highlighting best practice
Scottish photonics companies are
respected worldwide for adding
great value and expertise to product
development in the sector, likewise
within the country, for making a
massive contribution to the Scottish
GDP. Technology Scotland states
that the Scottish photonics industry,
alongside other enabling technologies,
now comprises 400 companies, with
15,000 employees and a net turnover
of £4 billion. It is estimated that the
sector makes up 10 per cent of all
Scottish exports – these figures are not
to be ignored.
For every optical telecommunications
project that a company may work on,
there are probably 200 photonics-
based sensing opportunities. Some
examples include coughing into a
phone to discover if you need a doctor;
phones that sense carbon monoxide;
cars with LiDar, or light-based radar;
and houses with distributed sensors.
As technology moves forwards,
the industry is having an arguably
increasing impact on society. This
will ensure exponential growth
in the photonics market, for the
We were established in 2000
as a spin-off from Glasgow and
Strathclyde Universities, which are
both renowned for their photonics
expertise. In 2001, funding took us
into private sector ownership and
established our site as the first service
provider with a III-V foundry in the
UK. After steady growth and a second
round of investment in 2009, our
manufacturing capability increased.
We acquired Intense UK in 2010 and
their facilities have since become our
“clean room” manufacturing facility –
a 20,000-square foot unit with 2”, 3”
and 4” wafer processing capabilities.
In 2012, we then acquired Kamelian’s
photonics technology, to add to our
capability and IP portfolio.
The merger with Sivers IMA, in 2017,
allowed us to invest heavily in the
automation of our production facility
and improve quality processes. The
latter has been crucial in enabling
us to supply telecommunications
products across the world. This
move was essential to meeting the
escalating demand for III-V compound
semiconductors in an ever-widening
range of markets.
In the photonics industry, the first
company to prove the feasibility of
a technology effectively becomes
an “owner” of that technology
Automatic laser bar
testing Three and four inch wafers
In the
industry, the
first company
to prove the
feasibility of a
becomes an
when it comes to commercialisation.
Government funding enhances and
broadens our global technology
offering and accelerates development,
speeding up entry into new and critical
technology sectors. Since photonics
is an enabling technology – that is
to say, a key element for dependent
industry sectors – the importance of
funding and getting there first is even
We currently operate 14 research
projects, all of which are co-funded
by the government and worth over
£1million to our business. These
projects are aimed specifically at
outlining the feasibility of a variety
of new photonics technologies,
mitigating the risk for prospective
further investors. The government
must sustain or increase this level of
investment if we are to secure the UK
as a major influencer in the global
photonics market in the future.
Our challenges do not stop there. Our
development engineers must blend
chemistry, physics and electronics
at PhD level. There are currently 12
experienced PhD engineers at CST
Global, with Scottish, English, Irish,
Bangledeshi, Italian, Mexican and
Polish nationalities represented and a
great gender ratio. We simply recruit
the best. To continue attracting the
best engineers to both our company
and Scottish industry, we need the
uncertainty Brexit has caused to
international employment to be
Our most effective recruitment path
has been through university PhD
programmes and their involvement
in the government-funded research
projects we operate. When students
get to work on real projects at our
site, it helps attract high-calibre PhD
students to the university, who in turn
work with our experienced engineers.
The students find themselves
producing work of both commercial
value and academic excellence,
allowing us to identify the very best
talent for recruitment.
A Westminster view
Carol Monaghan, MP for Glasgow
North West and chairwoman of the
All Party Parliamentary Group for
Photonics in Westminster, recently
visited the company for a technology
day. Carol, who studied laser physics
and optoelectronics at Strathclyde
University, addressed visitors and
stated: “The central belt of Scotland
is a hotbed for photonics research,
from Glasgow and Strathclyde in the
west, to Heriot-Watt, Edinburgh and
St Andrews in the east. These industry-
facing universities allow great and rich
partnerships between industry and
research, that allow SMEs to flourish.”
Wider recognition in Westminster
of the growing opportunity in
photonics in Scotland and the massive
contribution it is already making to
both Scottish and British GDP would
further boost both recruitment and
investment opportunities.
Carol concluded: “Companies like
CST Global continue to push the
boundaries of possibilities, and their
semiconductor components, developed
and manufactured in Blantyre,
are integral to laser devices used
Our most
path has been
university PhD
and their
involvement in
funded research
projects they
Four inch photo mask


This article was sponsored by CST Global. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister