Innovation leaders from across the world will gather at a North East science park next week as part of its 10-year vision to become the global hub for materials integration.
The North East Technology Park (NETPark), near Sedgefield, County Durham, has attracted some of the biggest names in the sector for the round table summit on May 19.
The experts, all working to integrate ground-breaking technology into everyday products, include president of SolaMed Solutions and former senior policy advisor to the White House Dr Saralyn Mark, as well as representatives from Innovate UK, the Institute of Physics, the Knowledge Transfer Network, Durham University and CPI.
The event forms part of a 10-year strategy for NETPark which includes the creation of 3,000 new jobs, adding £400m to the region’s GVA.
Simon Goon, managing director at Business Durham, the economic development company for the county, which runs the park, said: “This event is a big milestone in our 10-year strategy. “North East companies are leading the way in this field and we want to foster that kind of innovation by working with leading lights in the materials integration field.”
Two NETPark-based firms are already making names for themselves in the materials integration field.
Kromek, which makes cadmium zinc telluride (CdZT), began as a spin-out of Durham University with two employees. Today, it has a 60-strong workforce in the UK, as well as two US subsidiaries, its products being used in everything from airport scanners to early stage breast cancer detection.
PolyPhotonix, whose founder Richard Kirk will be attending the summit, has used organic light materials in a sleep mask to treat diabetic retinopathy, one of the most common causes of blindness in the western world. The product is projected to save the NHS £1bn per year.
NETPark is also home to two Durham University research groups in instrumentation and materials, a cluster of SMEs and the CPI-owned National Printable Electronics Centre.
Momentum on planned expansion is now building, with funding secured to open up a further 13 hectares of land, 51,000 sq ft of grow-on space, and the announcement by CPI of two more centres at the site: National Healthcare Photonics and National Formulation.
The NETPark partnership of Business Durham, CPI and Durham University is now crafting a complete ‘scale-up’ support model for companies wanting to capitalise on the materials integration market – from the first stage of ideas through to volume manufacturing.
Mr Goon added: “We can offer the right support to help tenants become world leaders at the same time as offering a community of like-minded companies, like Kromek and Polyphotonix, who have similar global aspirations.”