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 Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy