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UK blocks University of Manchester robot vision deal with Chinese firm

University of Manchester

A deal to license the University of Manchester’s vision sensing technology for robots to China’s Beijing Infinite Vision Technology Company has been blocked by the UK government on national security grounds.

The university will not be able to license its SCAMP-5 and SCAMP-7 vision sensing technology to the Chinese firm after the deal was blocked via the National Security and Investment Act 2021.

As outlined in the final order, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the agreement has “dual-use applications” and the university’s tech could be used in a way that “present national security risk to the United Kingdom”.

A spokesperson for the University of Manchester told UKTN: “We have thorough internal processes in place to look at proposed international agreements.

“These were followed in this case and, in line with the legislation, we voluntarily referred this agreement to the UK government. We will, of course, abide by the decision that has been made.”

The university’s website states that the SCAMP vision sensor “does not output raw images, but rather the results of on-sensor computations”.

It adds that the technology could be applied to robotics, VR, automotive, toys and surveillance.

Beijing Infinite Vision Technology Company Ltd has been approached by UKTN for comment.

The University of Manchester’s Innovation Factory recently partnered with the angel investment network Manchester Angels, to back the region’s technology and life sciences.