Oxford Technologies

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Oxford Technologies'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 Oxford Technologies 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


David Loughborough, managing
Investigation boom system for the Fukushima
Daiichi decommissioning project in Japan
Veolia Nuclear Solutions UK (VNS) (incorporates Oxford
Technologies Ltd.) is a world-leading provider of remote
handling and waste management solutions for extremely
hostile environments, with proven technology and a track record
of providing innovative solutions in key sectors including nuclear
fusion, nuclear decommissioning, space and high-energy physics.
As one of the fastest growing companies in the nuclear industry,
our success comes from our unique heritage and capabilities,
close collaborations and delivering client relevant solutions. In
two years, the business has grown from an SME with a £2.5
million turnover to a company with a £10 million turnover, with
about 70 per cent of growth coming from overseas markets.
This has been achieved through exports to France by working
on fusion projects and to Japan with decommissioning work
in the challenging environment at Fukushima Daiichi, as David
Loughborough, managing director, explains.
Our unique heritage
Oxford Technologies was formed in 2000 as a high technology spinoff from EFDA/
JET, the European flagship project researching the feasibility of harnessing nuclear
fusion as a viable energy source, where the company’s team of highly qualified,
professional engineers were responsible for the delivery of the world’s first remote
handling campaign inside a nuclear fusion reactor.
»Managing director:
»Established in 2000
»Based in Abingdon,
»Services: Remote handling and
waste management solutions
»No. of employees: 85
»Fastest growing company
in the UK’s nuclear industry
with the majority of growth
achieved from overseas
Oxford Technologies
Highlighting best practice
In 2016, the company was acquired
by Veolia, a global leader in optimised
resource management, which provides
water, waste and energy management
solutions globally that contribute
to the sustainable development of
communities and industries. The
relationship with Veolia has enabled
us to access: world-leading expertise
in technology and service provision;
local offices across global markets; and
the backing of a major global player,
all while maintaining the flexibility and
local relationships afforded by our
Our capabilities
The need for remote handling occurs
when tasks that would normally
require manual intervention, which
are almost always tasks that demand
intuition and intelligence, must be
undertaken remotely due to the toxic
or otherwise hostile nature of the
working environment – such as the
inside of a nuclear reactor. Remote
handling is therefore a highly complex
technical area, combining a wide
range of leading-edge engineering
capabilities, including vision and
image processing, human-machine
interface technologies, virtual and
augmented reality and simulation,
with mechanical, mechatronic,
electronic and electrical engineering –
all of these skills are brought together
by the team at VNS. In short, we are
guarantors of safety not just for critical
situations such as that mentioned
above, but also for the workers in our
own industry.
International reach
Following over 15 years of experience
and the achievements at JET, VNS
is now providing remote handling
expertise to the follow-on and much
larger ITER Fusion project currently
being built in France. The complex and
international nature of this (and many
of the projects in which the company
has been involved) has created an
organisation that is truly internationally
VNS is working in close collaboration
with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on
the design and construction of a
unique, remotely controlled, boom-
type robotic arm system to investigate
the nature and location of nuclear
fuel debris in the Unit 2 Reactor
at the disabled Fukushima Daiichi
nuclear power plant.The proposed
solution – combining knowledge
and experience gained through its
work in the nuclear fusion sector and
Dounreay shaft
intervention platform
– a system to remotely
handle and retrieve
radioactive waste from a
65-metre-deep shaft in
demanding environments at Dounreay
and Sellafield – is the result of over
18 months of detailed work, and is
being delivered in four phases: outline
design, detailed design, manufacture
and – finally – assembly and test.
Similar technological approaches are
being developed to look at sampling
and ultimate retrieval of fuel debris
from what is seen as the most
challenging decommissioning project
in the world.
Since technology and science at this
level crosses national boundaries,
the geographic location of projects
and the multinational nature of
customers and working teams is
no barrier to our participation, as
is amply demonstrated by the fact
that, in addition to work in the
UK, France and Japan, we have
clients and collaborations located
in Belgium, Canada, Spain, Italy,
Finland, Germany, Switzerland and
the Netherlands. We believe that,
whatever geopolitical tumult occurs,
we’ll always be well positioned to
collaborate on this international scale.
Supply chain collaborations
To deliver our innovative solutions
from concept to delivery we work
closely with a strong UK supply chain;
with suppliers and partnerships; and
with national organisations including
the UK Atomic Energy Authority and
the National Nuclear Laboratory.
Indeed, we work more generally with
industry across the UK (but also with
niche capability providers from all over
the world).
Our access to international markets
has given benefits to the wider
UK industry and we champion the
collaborative approach with UK
industry internationally. By doing this,
we ensure that all voices and interests
of all stakeholders are assimilated into
our projects.
Growing success
Today, the provision of remote
handling solutions is a rapidly growing
market sector, applicable not only
to advanced physics and nuclear
fusion research projects, but also as
an essential element in the planned
maintenance of existing and new
nuclear power plants and in the
decommissioning of such plants at the
end of their working lives.
The same skills and expertise
are also being used to develop
remote handling solutions in other
environments and innovative uses
in new markets, from deep sea, to
deep space; from military, medical
and pharmaceutical applications, to
manufacturing. Anywhere, in fact,
where tasks need to be performed
in places and environments where
operators or maintenance personnel
cannot go – this is the exciting new
global market in which VNS is a
leading player.
Our access to
markets has
given benefits
to the wider
UK industry
Dexter – a two-armed
manipulator designed
to carry out the work of
a human in hazardous
environments where
human access is not
desirable or possible


This article was sponsored by Oxford Technologies. 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