Back technology innovation call

A TEES Valley technology firm has urged the Government to make it easier for businesses to take niche innovations to market.

A TEES Valley technology firm has urged the Government to make it easier for businesses to take niche innovations to market.

Sedgefield-based Kromek said smaller firms were being held back by a burdensome regulatory regime that was delaying the commercialisation of potentially lucrative research and development.

The company, which is developing X-ray imaging equipment that can detect explosives in liquids, wants to see extra tax incentives for agile, high-tech UK firms to give them the edge over their foreign competitors.

Kromek CEO Arnab Basu said the Government’s Patent Box scheme, which will see income arising from UK patents taxed at 10% from 2013, was a step in the right direction.

But he urged ministers to consider more initiatives along the lines of the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), which aims to help companies raise finance by offering tax relief to investors.

He said: “The Government has to take a serious view on innovation.

“Although they are good at supporting R&D up to a certain point, when it comes to taking innovation into the marketplace, there needs to be more help.

“Reducing the time to market is absolutely critical for companies which have step-changing technology. Some of them can fail because of the time it takes to commercialise the technology.”

He wants to see a single set of EU rules governing security of liquids on aeroplanes so that Kromek can fast-track the commercialisation of its explosive-detecting bottle scanner across European airports.

Different rules across EU member states is making it harder for the firm to bring the technology to market.

North-east MEP Fiona Hall is lobbying the European Commission on the issue “as a matter of urgency”, claiming the technology could help to alleviate security fears once the ban on liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) - due to expire in April - is lifted.

The technology has the potential to generate millions of pounds for Kromek, which recorded sales of £500,000 in the year to April 2009.

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