Speed is of the essence

Speed is of the essence

The CPI is now firmly established as an international centre of excellence based in the North East – and profitably so. Chief executive Nigel Perry tells how the success has been achieved.

The UK process and manufacturing industries face substantial obstacles as they look to advance the evolution of innovative new products, technologies and services.

With a rich heritage in these industries, the North East in particular has been charged with adapting to changing market demands to ensure its continued economic growth.

In response to such demands, the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) was created, and since our inception in 2004 we have worked to provide commercially viable solutions to meet this concern.

While initially recognised for our contribution to the regional manufacturing landscape, we are now firmly established as a national and indeed international centre of excellence based in the North East.

Home to the UK’s National Centres for Printable Electronics, Industrial Biotechnology and Anaerobic Digestion, we apply our knowledge in science and engineering and combine it with state of the art development facilities to enable our clients to develop, prove, prototype and scale up the next generation of products and processes.

Put simply, we help companies – big or small – to speed the deployment of innovative and sustainable solutions to address market opportunities.

During the last decade we have worked with more than 2,000 companies - including SMEs, universities and large corporate clients globally - and successfully completed more than 100 public and private projects of total value exceeding £235m.

Using our diverse assets valued at over £60m, and the expertise of our renowned team of scientists and engineers, we have also helped to establish more than 50 European projects to the value of €118m.

These projects are in turn helping companies in UK manufacturing supply chain - many of which are based in the region - to bring to market new technologies, products and services in order to grow and enhance commercial competition globally.

Originally 100% public funded, CPI has grown to a £15m business with 60% of its income coming from collaborative R&D and commercial contracts, and it now employs more than 200 highly skilled scientists and engineers.

Project highlights include developing and formulating state-of-the-art electronic inks for one of its clients, which permit large screen HD OLED displays at one-tenth the size of conventional silicon systems.

CPI has also developed a new continuous manufacturing process that has cut capital cost by 50% and operating costs by 60%, resulting in the client investing in a new plant.

Another recent and crucial development shaping and driving the UK manufacturing industry is the Government’s elite network of Catapult centres, which bring together individual centres of collaborative research to create something even greater than the sum of its parts – a single network covering high-value sectors from pharmaceuticals to power generation, where knowledge gained in one area can be transferred to others.

We were selected as the Government’s process partner and our challenge is to introduce our low cost, low carbon manufacturing approach to high growth markets that could benefit from our expertise and the new technologies and processes we have at CPI.

If this challenge is met then the UK has a platform from which to rebuild and enhance its manufacturing supply chain and truly bolster its economy.

As a developer of key technologies in the UK, we continue to meet our targets and expand the horizons of innovation, and from our sites at Wilton and NETPark, are currently delivering a number of forward-thinking and economically vital projects to steer the UK’s process industries, printable electronics technologies and low carbon transition with partners from the public and private sector.

Moreover, we remain excited about the scope for even stronger collaborations as we continue to provide a valuable service that helps drive the UK’s progression into a key part of the global manufacturing sector.