Biotech company Prokarya analyses bacteria in water on behalf of customers in the water industry, testing bathing water and tracing its microbial content.
It is the only company of its kind in the UK and grew out of research carried out by founder Gregg Iceton as part of his doctorate, which he is studying with sponsorship from companies in the water industry.
After moving into the North East BIC back in October, the company has continued to grow and has now expanded with a second office at the centre totalling 300 sq ft.
Speaking to BQ, Gregg said: “The quality laboratory space available at the BIC was a key factor in my decision to invest in Sunderland.
“Having looked elsewhere, the quality of the facilities here and the support on offer to small businesses made perfect sense.
“Already we’re set to take on our first apprentice in October and have expanded our presence here with a further 300 sq ft as we continue to grow.”
As part of the growth, the company is aiming to take on an additional 20 to 30 highly skilled staff over the next three years, providing a major boost to the city.
Iceton added: “The business has grown out of research I have been doing for the last four years as part of a STREAM engineering doctorate.
“The majority of the time is spent within the water companies and the research is very applied. I realised there was a demand for the service that Prokarya supplies in the UK. Our nearest competitor is in Paris.”
Sunderland City Council’s business investment team helped shape Gregg’s decision by directing him to suitable sources of funding to help get the business off the ground.
“That kind of assistance was really valuable to me,” added Gregg.
“The problem with seeking funding is that venture capital financiers are looking to invest hundreds of thousands of pounds in a company, and I was looking for tens of thousands.
“Sunderland City Council was very good with its communication and was very clear and straightforward to work with.”
Cllr Harry Trueman, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Prokarya is a welcome addition to the growing biotech sector in Sunderland.
“The company is providing a unique service and we’re delighted Mr Iceton chose Sunderland as the business’ base.
“It will also provide a number of quality, highly-skilled career positions for local people over the coming years and we look forward to continuing our relationship with Prokarya as the company grows.”
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