County Durham - where innovation is in the limelight

County Durham - where innovation is in the limelight

Whether it’s major inward investment or the making of cutting edge products for the global health industry, County Durham is the place to do business.

With world class universities on the doorstep, two of the Government’s national catapult centres and four national technology centres, it’s hardly surprising that the North East Technology Park is at the forefront of many major technology advances.

Sedgefield-based NETPark’s success stories range from ReViral – the pioneering biotechnology firm, which is developing a highly potent drug to target a common virus – to PolyPhotonix, which has created a sleep mask to combat diabetic retinopathy.

Business Durham, the economic development company for County Durham, working on behalf of Durham County Council, is hoping to capitalise on the healthcare advancements with initiatives such as ‘Smart County’ – a beacon project to bring business and health organisations together to identify specific health issues and then support companies as they come up with innovative products and services which will make a difference to people’s lives.

In other sectors, NETPark is playing a part in helping businesses to tap into the billion pound space sector. The Business Durham-backed North East Space Incubation Programme will see several companies chosen to receive mentorship in financial management, law, marketing, business growth and IP protection, as they look to capitalise on the burgeoning space industry.

All these companies will be perfectly placed to take advantage of NETPark’s expansion over the next decade which will create 3,000 jobs and add another £400m to the region’s GVA. It is already home to Durham University’s Centre for Advanced Instrumentation, two of the Government’s Catapult centres - the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence and High Value Manufacturing, and four national technology centres: the Printable Electronics, Formulation, Graphene Applications and Healthcare Photonics, all managed by the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI). NETPark’s dynamic and supportive environment put its ambitious, innovative, high tech companies in the spotlight and accelerates their growth into global markets.

But innovation is not the only success story for County Durham which has seen some major investments, such as Hitachi Rail Europe opening its new £82m rail facility in Newton Aycliffe; the launch of a new online bank, Atom, in Durham City and customer contact firm ResQ moving into the Spectrum Business Park with the announcement of 1,300 jobs.

Business Durham is also one of the largest commercial property landlords in the region. Salvus House, the multi-award winning office building, at Aykley Heads near Durham City, is a recent acquisition and boasts office suites ranging in size from 3,000 to 9,000 sq ft together with space for new businesses and collaborative working areas for individuals requiring flexible workspace.

Salvus House was singled out for its striking design and won a RICS Renaissance Award and a Commendation for Innovation in the region’s Constructing Excellence Awards soon after it was designed and built in 2005.

Simon Goon, managing director of Business Durham, the economic development company for County Durham, says: “It’s fantastic to shine a light on all the companies in the county which are excelling in their chosen fields, whether it is traditional manufacturing or cutting edge medical advancements.

“We forge long-term relationships with companies so they can see real, sustainable growth. We want to see businesses locate here, stay here, and grow here so it’s imperative we offer them the right environment in which to grow and thrive.

“With great transport links and a world class university in the County itself, County Durham is the place to do business. Inward investment success stories are only one part of the story - and we hope to hear of many more in 2017.”

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