A Staffordshire-based firm that was instrumental in the development of a high precision measurement technique used in the European Space Agency's Mars Express Beagle2 mission is set to take the technology where no man has been before.
The system was developed for Beagle2 by the firm's founder, world- renowned mass spectroscopist, Dennis Leigh.
Compact Science & Technology, based on the Science Park at Keele University, specialises in the design and manufacture of an innovative mass spectrometer system that is already being used in the oil exploration industry for the detection of gas fields.
It is now working with Business Link Staffordshire to develop new software that will enable customers to operate the system remotely, enabling real-time data transfer and helping to pre- empt breakdowns.
The application is claimed to be the first of its kind in the world.
James Leigh, a biochemist, joined his father to help run the family business two years ago, while his mother, Cynthia, is responsible for the company's accounts.
David Riley, diversification programme manager at Business Link Staffordshire, has been advising the firm for the past three years, assisting with a range of business development initiatives.
He said: "This father and son team are at the leading edge of their field, and their products are proving to have substantial potential in the global market place.
" This latest project to ensure remote operability gives them a significant edge on their competition, and is already helping to boost sales."
James says that as interest grows among scientific research establishments across the globe, the company is set to develop the technology for use in biomedical science and atmospheric monitoring.
"These are exciting times," he noted.
Compact Science & Technology is planning to create three new jobs. It is recruiting for a software engineer, a test engineer, and a manager for the clean assembly room.
Meanwhile a Coventry University spin-out company has developed a revolutionary method of releasing drugs, fragrances and fertilisers.
Based at the University's Technology Park, Exilica has created a range of micro beads and silica shells that free chemicals over a longer period of time.
Exilica is the brainchild of Dr Daniel Lynch, a researcher in the University's School of Science and the Environment.
"The technology could be used to enhance existing household and healthcare products," Dr Lynch said.
"As well as more controlled drug release, chemicals can be freed on contact with skin or by changes in temperature.
" There is potential to develop more effective sun screens or hair products that only release a fragrance when heated."
Other potential uses include the controlled release of fertilisers and treatment of oil and fuel spillages.
"I have a PhD student working on an environmental clean-up research project," Dr Lynch said.
"Beads are being spun into fibres, which are used to support oil degrading bacteria.
"So, if a car is leaking oil, it will be soaked up by these fibres instead of infiltrating the ground." The technology has attracted interest from international giants such as Unilever, Procter and Gamble, Shell, BP and ICI.
Exilica has taken up residence at the University's Enterprise Centre, managed by Coventry University Enterprises, which is home to a range of small-to-medium sized businesses.
"There's a real buzz about the place," Dr Lynch said. "Its state-of-the-art facilities are ideal for a technology-focused business such as Exilica."