Our innovation heritage

The University of Surrey, in Guildford, has its roots in the Battersea Polytechnic Institute founded in 1891. Since receiving its Royal Charter in 1966, the University has grown to incorporate humanities, arts, and social sciences, whilst continuing strengths in science, engineering, and industrial engagement. It created a world-leading Research Park in 1984.

Innovation fitted as standard


The University of Surrey has a proud tradition in innovation. 

Professor Alf Adams is a Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University who invented the strained-layer quantum-well laser. Most modern homes will have several of these devices in their homes in all types of electronic equipment. 

Sir Martin Sweeting is the founder and executive chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, and a Distinguished Professor at the University. Together with his team he created UoSAT-1, the first modern 70 kg (150 lb) 'microsatellite,' which he convinced the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to launch, as a secondary piggyback payload into Low Earth orbit alongside a larger primary payload.

Dr Edward Morton, now Chief Technical Officer at Rapiscan Systems Inc, has been recognised by the Royal Academy of Engineering for his contributions to the field of X-ray imaging in medical, industrial and security applications. His early academic career lead to a successful technology spin-out in X-ray imaging  (CXR Ltd). His engineering designs have led to innovative X-ray imaging systems for 2D and 3D cargo and baggage scanning and growth of a major export-led business in the UK.

Distinguished Professor Rahim Tafazolli is Regius Professor of Electronic Engineering and Professor of Mobile and Satellite Communications, Founder/Director of our 5G/6G Innovation Centre (5G/6GIC) and Director of the Institute for Communication Systems. Professor Tafazolli has made an outstanding contribution to strategic research and development in future mobile and wireless communications including areas such as ad hoc networking, novel mobile architectures, massive MIMO, Green Communications and the 'internet of things'. He is the inventor of the NOMA technique for mass connectivity in 5G and beyond 5G.

Distinguished Professor Ravi Silva is the Director of the University's Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) and heads the Nano-Electronics Centre (NEC). He is the inventor of 25 patents, and has the been a founder of several University spin-outs including Surrey Nanosystems Ltd and SilverRay Ltd.

Dr. Shakar Jafari, an award winning medical physicist, invented a string of tiny calibrated silica beads that can be used to measure radiation inside a patient's body. Her company, TrueInvivo, is head-quartered on our research park. In 2016 Dr Jafari won a “Women-in-Innovation” award from Innovate UK.

More recently our spin-outs have brought space-technology to the media and entertainment industry and today are helping society through the Covid-19 pandemic.

These persons and their companies are inspiring our staff and students to follow in their footsteps.