University links reinforce NETPark’s global reach

NetPark External shot THE innovative businesses based at the North East Technology Park (NETPark) have nearly 160 active collaborations with universities – illustrating NETPark’s existing global position and also its ambition to become the global hub for materials integration by 2025.


The data was collected by Business Durham, which runs NETPark on behalf of Durham County Council, and the number of collaborations is acknowledged to be high. It shows an average of seven collaborations per company, including 10 with Cambridge, seven with Manchester and 22 with Durham.


Simon Goon, managing director of Business Durham said: “This really is evidence that NETPark is doing exactly what it was set up to do: translate first class research into products that have real social impact, which create jobs and prosperity. That’s innovation at work at its best.”


Collaborations between businesses and universities form the heart of every national and EU policy for science and innovation and how to increase them is a constant source of debate.


Hans Moller, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s innovation director said: “Clearly NETPark companies have got it worked out. NETPark is an essential part of the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan and Innovation Strategy to make the North East one of the innovation hotspots in Europe; the fact that companies at NETPark work with so many universities across the country and the world is proof of the North East’s global standing.”


Promoting co-operation and collaboration between universities and the business community is part of the distinctive offer of science and technology parks in the UK.

Paul Wright, chief executive of the United Kingdom Science Park Association (UKSPA) was delighted at NETPark’s news. He said: “NETPark has worked hard to harness the research strengths of respected academic institutions from a central location. It is a successful model that I would recommend to other science and technology parks throughout the world.”


Professor Brian Tanner, dean for university enterprise for Durham University and chief scientific adviser to NETPark, said development of a culture of open innovation was extremely important to science parks.


“NETPark tenants obviously recognise that by working with some of the finest minds, not just in this country, but in the world, there will be long term benefits to the sustainability of their businesses,” he said.


“While it is not surprising that the highest number of collaborations is with Durham University, a local and strategic partner of NETPark, it is evident that NETPark companies seek out the most appropriate partners, wherever they are located.”


Many of NETPark’s companies are integrating ground-breaking technology into everyday products, such as Kromek, which has developed an array of products in health and security, and PolyPhotonix, which has developed a sleepmask which can halt the blindness associated with diabetes.


NETPark is also home to Durham University’s Centre for Advanced Instrumentation, as well as two Catapult Centres, High Value Manufacturing (managed by CPI) and Satellite Applications. CPI has located the National Printable Electronics Centre at NETPark and will be locating the National Formulation Centre and the National Healthcare Photonics Centre there as well.


Simon Goon added: “It’s easy to see how NETPark is becoming an innovation powerhouse.  Our ambition to create 3,000 jobs and add another £400m to the region’s GVA by 2025 is certainly achievable.”



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