NETPark of Durham provides world-class laboratory, clean room and office space to science, technology and engineering companies, ranging from start-ups to global AIM-listed firms.
Managed by Business Durham and backed by on-site strategic partner CPI and world Top 100 university, Durham University, this renowned science park fosters, encourages and drives innovation.
Its unique, collaborative eco-system offers a wealth of support and tailored options to meet the needs of businesses throughout Durham.
NETPark is situated in Sedgefield offering a semi-rural campus-style layout, with no traffic congestion and easy access to the A1, Durham City and rail services.
Support at NETPark
Business Durham, the business support service for Durham County Council manage NETPark, it offers a variety of support services to businesses on-site, together with partners. Their highly experienced team of professionals help businesses on the park connect to the best funds, expertise and facilities.
Business Durham can also help local business access unique funding programmes to help them grow and develop, including Finance Durham and The County Durham Growth Fund.
CPI manages three national innovation centres on-site: The National Innovation Centre for Printable Electronics, The National Innovation Centre for Formulations, and The National Innovation Centre for Healthcare Photonics.
Durham University offers easy access to facilities, academic expertise and PHD students for NETPark companies. The university’s building, Orbit, is a hub of innovation for ambitious science and technology companies, which benefit from the thriving community of science and technology-based businesses on-site.
Phase 3: new growth
Plans for expansion at NETPark have been approved by Durham County Council Cabinet, which has agreed to invest £50m to finance the provision of up to 270,000 sq ft of new laboratory, office, production and storage space.
NETPark Phase Three consists of up to 12 speculative units from 5,000 sq ft to 35,000 sq ft, which will allow science, engineering and technology companies to grow, scale-up and commercialise their operations.
This initial phase of development is part of larger expansion plan to the park, which includes a masterplan for up to 433,800 sq ft across the 26-acre site, and design and build opportunities up to 80,000 sq ft.
Janet Todd, NETPark Manager said: “It is an exciting time to be at NETPark. Work starts later this year to add 270,000 sq ft of space giving growing companies options to grow on the park when they are ready to scale up operations. Whilst also attracting new businesses to the park to expand our collaborative community.”
Kromek: a NETPark pioneer
Kromek specialises in CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear) detection products and services.
The company first spun out of Durham University’s Department of Physics in 2003, with just two employees. Today it is a global OEM, with around 170 employees across the UK and USA, the majority working out of NetPark.
Kromek is a leading developer of high-performance radiation detection products, producing X-ray and gamma ray imaging and radiation detection products for the medical, security screening and nuclear markets. It was floated on AIM in 2014.
Dr Arnab Basu, CEO of Kromek, explains: “As a Durham University spin-out, Kromek’s origins lie in Durham and we regard it as our home.
“NETPark’s high-tech laboratory facilities outside the university environment really gave us credibility in the early days, and we really appreciate the partnership approach that has continued through to our current expansion.
“Having been on NETPark for nearly 20 years, we enjoy the exposure to high tech opportunities and political influences, while maintaining excellent relationships with NETPark and other businesses on the site.
“Kromek grew from two to 30 people inside the incubator; from there NETPark built a bespoke building for us on-site. We then expanded into Explorer 1 as the team grew.
“Being part of a successful community of like-minded people, doing like-minded things, has been a fantastic experience, and allowed us unrivalled access to support and other facilities on the park.
“Kromek is settled here at NETPark, and proud to continue playing a part in County Durham’s success! We fully intend to stay and grow in the region, supporting other local businesses and the community for many more years to come.”
IBEX at NETPark
Starting out as a virtual tenant at NETPark, innovative software specialist IBEX moved into bigger, custom-designed office and lab space in 2018, to help double its workforce and transform into a multi-million-pound business.
Founded in 2010, IBEX is on a mission to create a world without fragility fractures through access to earlier and more accessible osteoporosis diagnosis.
Using advanced physics modelling and AI methods, IBEX Trueview® software maximises the value of every medical X-ray to provide new diagnostic outputs and improved image quality for more accurate diagnoses in digital radiography, mammography, and cone-beam computed tomography.
Excellent support network
As IBEX expands, Dr Neil Loxley, CEO, praises the expert backing from NETPark and Business Durham, including their extensive support infrastructure, positive staff attitude, and ease of access to space.
Dr Loxley explains: “Having a NETPark address definitely added credibility when we started out as a virtual tenant, and then progressed on to incubator space. We were given the ability to grow with use of both office and custom-built lab facilities.
“As one of the first companies to take space in the Discovery 2 building, we have now taken on more space – and employees – in Explorer.
“Being in a dynamic, innovative atmosphere, surrounded by like-minded companies, has certainly helped, as has the quality of facilities.”
Have you accessed support from CPI, Durham University, DCC or Business Durham?
“CPI supported us with development of breast phantoms as well as other ad-hoc support and use of equipment in the earlier days of the company.
“Business Durham support has largely been through rates grants that have helped reduce operating costs as we’ve grown. We’ve also had support from Digital Drive Durham for advanced computer hardware and the Durham Business Recovery Grant, which supported regulatory and market assessment activities.
“Durham Uni has been involved with several grant funded projects as partner but has also supported us with subsidies for internships through the DICE programme and industrial PhD students.”
Future plans at NETPark?
Dr Loxley adds: “Our recent move and associated growth will see IBEX shift into profitability and increase its highly skilled workforce to more than 30 in the coming years.
“NETPark provides excellent facilities for technology start-ups such as IBEX. As the company has grown, we have been able to seamlessly progress from a virtual office through to incubator space and finally into custom-designed office and lab space, all on the same site. NETPark has created a dynamic and thriving technology ecosystem that promotes interaction and collaboration between all its tenants.”