Karen Holland

Karen was interested in science as a youngster and encouraged by her electrician father, she played around with electronics and studied astronomy whilst still in her early teens. After leaving sixth form, she went to Birmingham University where she was awarded a BSc(Hons) in Physics, and she then worked as a Principal Development Engineer for Plessey Research and Plessey III-IV, developing fibre optic transmitter and receiver units for military applications until she stopped work to be with her 3 children.

During this career break, she took up astronomy as an amateur and also became involved with the Observational Astronomy group at Leicester University where her research culminated in the Royal Astronomical Society publication of her controversial paper announcing the first discovery of colliding open star clusters: ‘Star Swarms Collide in the Beehive’.

Following this position, Karen then applied for, and was the first woman ever to win a Royal Society Industry Fellowship in the field of Astronomy and Particle Physics, to conduct research in the Theoretical Astrophysics group at Leicester University, where she continued her research.

In parallel with this, Karen and two other partners had set up a business called XCAM, which was involved in producing equipment that enabled scientists to characterise imaging detectors, primarily for X-ray detection. The business gradually grew to the point where Karen had to make a choice between a career in university research or running XCAM. She chose the business, and has never looked back.

Under Karen’s leadership XCAM has grown from a 30k business operated out of a spare room at home, to a >£1m business operating from a 6000 sqft factory in Northampton where cameras are made which are launched into space, or installed at science and industrial facilities around the world.

Karen was very pleased to be invited to join the NETP as a Director in 2010, serving on the board for a number of years. She feels strongly that the UK needs to train up a good supply of skilled engineers and scientists to enable us to re-build British manufacturing, and is keen to encourage and enthuse young scientists and engineers of all levels.



Karen Holland

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