TECHNOLOGY firm Kromek has won the biggest commercial deal in its history - a £2.4m contract with the US government.
The County Durham company will supply equipment which can detect emissions from nuclear materials to the US government’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
This will put its technology into the gamma ray detection market as it continues its efforts to commercialise its anti-terrorist technology designed for use in airports. Sedgefield-based Kromek is currently in the process of commercialising its X-ray imaging products which have applications in the medical, security, industrial inspection and defence markets.
The company has developed a machine that can tell the difference between vodka or water in a bottle and a clear chemical explosive disguised as a drink. It is currently being tried out at airports in Europe.
If successful, the machines could see the end of restrictions imposed by the EU after Muslim extremists were caught planning to kill up to 10,000 people in simultaneous explosions on planes using liquid bomb materials.
Kromek’s annual turnover is currently around £500,000 and this figure is expected to run into millions over the next 12 months on the back of its deal with the US government – which is likely to be eclipsed by bigger contracts in the coming months.
Meanwhile, although the company specialises in the security market, chief executive Arnab Basu said the medical arena also offered a long-term route to growth.
He said: “It’s our biggest potential market. We are taking the world of X-rays from black and white into colour. Our technology gives us better means of producing accurate images and detecting anomalies.”
He also said Kromek was bidding for contracts that should come to fruition early next year, adding “millions” to the company’s revenue base.
Mr Basu has been instrumental in turning Kromek – formerly Durham Scientific Crystals – from a two-man operation into a firm employing more than 40 staff.
He is planning to boost the company’s presence in growth markets such as the US and more than treble employee numbers.
Since it was formed in 2003, Kromek has secured more than £11m of private equity funding as well as around £1m of public monies to fund the development of its products.