The tangible benefits of co-operation

ONE of the great things about working in the science and technology sector is the pace of the industry.

ONE of the great things about working in the science and technology sector is the pace of the industry.

Seeing companies you have known since their creation grow from small acorns to mighty oaks in a relatively short space of time can bring a great feeling of satisfaction.

This is exactly how I feel earlier this week with a company I have dealt with since 2005 about to make the jump to its next stage of development.

Kromek was the first company to start life at the NETPark Incubator, part of the North East Technology Park in County Durham. It has now far outgrown its previous home, and will shortly move into a new building on the NETPark site.

Kromek began life in 2003 as Durham Scientific Crystals, a spinout of Durham University. The company has grown from a two-man operation to employ nearly 50 people. It is about to make the change from focusing on R&D to a company forecasted to generate more than £12m revenue within the next 12 months.

Its value has increased from less than £½m at conception to more than £50m five years later.

In 2008 Kromek was offered a £250,000 R&D grant from One North East to allow the company to develop a prototype advanced X-ray screening system. This made it the 100th company in the North East to receive such a grant, and shows how much faith decision-makers have in the company’s capabilities.

The new headquarters of Kromek are a testament to the potential of regional partnerships. The move is possible through the efforts of the County Durham Development Company, which operates NETPark, in conjunction with One North East, the European Regional Development Fund, Durham University, Durham County Council, and Kromek itself.

Kromek’s development in the past seven years has been possible due to the environment for growth that has been established at NETPark. The move to larger premises is a sign that NETPark is proving instrumental in retaining high-growth businesses in the North East.

NETPark itself is a collaborative project, having received funding from One North East, Durham County Council, and the European Union.

With so many different businesses and organisations working together toward a common goal, the success of Kromek and NETPark are perfect examples of how the North East’s hi-tech sector has fostered a spirit of co-operation which can only be a considerable asset to the future of the region.

:: Stewart Watkins is managing director of County Durham Development Company

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