Making a material difference

Oxford Instruments is developing technologies that are helping to solve a wide range of sustainability challenges – and has the Green Economy Mark to prove it


Oxford Instruments is preparing to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Green Economy Mark “has given us a boost and we are proud of it.”

Vikki Gault, Group Director of Communications

The green economy may be associated in the public mind with wind turbines and recycling, but these high-profile elements make up just a small part of the whole. Less visible is the work of technology companies such as Oxford Instruments, that are developing the materials, systems and tools that are helping to move the global economy towards sustainability.

The company, which is listed on London Stock Exchange’s Main Market, went public in 1983, using the funds raised to play a key role in the development of the MRI scanner. It is a multi-faceted high-tech company serving numerous end markets, producing systems and tools to industrial companies and the scientific research sector to image, analyse and manipulate materials down to the atomic level.

A growing green role

Sustainability issues are becoming fundamental to the company’s business – enabling it to receive the Green Economy Mark, which certifies that more than 50% of its revenues were derived from green products or services.

Sustainability is “front and centre of our strategy and purpose”, says Vikki Gault, the company’s Group Director of Communications. “We address some of the world’s most pressing challenges and one main area of focus is helping to facilitate a greener economy.”

Oxford Instrument’s green economy exposure is both broad and deep. For example, its various technologies contribute to clean power generation, sustainable agriculture, more efficient microelectronics and data storage, and analysis of environmental contaminants.

And within one part of the green economy – electric vehicles – its applications are ubiquitous. It is helping to improve battery performance, its advanced materials expertise is being applied to make cars lighter, more durable and sustainable, while its advanced sensors will help make them autonomous. It is even working on tyre performance, developing materials that produce fewer polluting particulates when braking.

Solving a communications challenge

The nature of Oxford Instrument’s business can make it difficult to clearly communicate to investors and other stakeholders the contribution it is making to sustainability. “We are a complex business,” says Gault, “and we have to communicate not just about how products work but how they make the world better.”

Here, the Green Economy Mark has helped convey that message, both internally and externally. “It was an external measure from an internationally renowned organisation and was perceived as recognition that our strategy was making an impact. We made sure that everyone inside the company knew about it.”

The Mark also appears in all meetings with new investors and customer presentations, alongside the company’s Queen’s Awards for Export and Innovation. “It has given us a boost and we are proud of it,” Gault adds.