The North-East Technology Park – or NETPark as it is known – in County Durham provides science, technology and engineering companies with the type of world-class laboratory, clean room and office space they require on the journey from start-up to, frequently, global AIM-listed status.
Opening in 2004, NETPark is the only science park in the UK with two Catapult Centres and three national innovations centres, it is also home to more than 32 companies which between them employ around 450 highly skilled personnel across a range of incubation and grow-on spaces, including Plexus, Discovery and Explorer.
Now, NETPark is set to expand again, to provide an even greater wealth of opportunities for businesses on route to national and global success.
In NETPark Phase Three, 26 acres of serviced land is being opened up providing businesses with an opportunity to secure high-end, bespoke premises, as a natural next step for significant scale-up and/or manufacturing on-site.
Janet Todd, NETPark Manager said: “Whether it is laboratory, office or warehouse space or even a combination of all three , our expert team will work closely with companies that are building up to the point where they are ready to commercialise and scale up their operations. We have a team in place that can work with businesses to develop a bespoke solutions of the highest quality, we are ready to take enquiries and start working on these plans with any business interested in locating on NETPark Phase Three ”
The infrastructure works on the third phase of NETPark have been made possible by a £5m grant from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund, part and parcel of the Government’s North East Growth Deal.
Richard Kirk, for one, can vouch for the benefits of setting up shop on NETPark.
Twelve years ago, he founded PolyPhotonix, developer of the Noctura 400 Sleep Mask, a revolutionary treatment for diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular oedema that is exciting interest all over the world.
“Originally I was drawn to NETPark, from London, by the fact the National Centre for Printable Electronics had just been built here,” he said.
“At the time that was my main interest and although we have morphed into something else over the years, it demonstrates the power of having incredible assets such as that on site.
“We were based in the National Centre for Print Electronics to begin with and it opened up facilities and the type of research that we just couldn’t have accessed anywhere else.”
Because there wasn’t a pool of the particular skills Richard was looking for nationally, he ended up recruiting internationally.
However, those that travelled from America and Asia were taking a real risk at the time, said Richard. “Anybody setting up ‘the first’ of anything, in this case a materials research business, finds it difficult to attract staff because if anything goes wrong, they might have nowhere else to go in that area.
“Thanks to the complete success of NETPark, we have started to achieve a critical mass whereby would-be employees considering making this huge commitment feel reassured – there is a significant number of similar or related businesses roundabout.”
PolyPhotonix has been so well catered for that it is preparing for its third expansion on the technology park. “We’re moving again at the end of this year, because we’re taking on yet more people,” he said.
“Each time we have needed more space or particular facilities, such as clean rooms, NETPark has been great – they provide what we need. So, we just keep moving offices!”
Neil Loxley, chief executive of another early tenant of NETPark, medical X-ray imaging pioneer IBEX Innovations, also testifies to the benefits of being located on this world-class technology park.
Developer of the unique IBEX Trueview software that can identify the latent signs of osteoporosis anywhere up to 15 years before onset – thereby providing early warning of a patient’s risk of potentially fatal fragility fractures – the company moved into the Explorer 1 building in 2013 and then the Explorer 2 building in 2018.
“There wasn’t a lot of start-up space available in County Durham when IBEX began,” said Neil. “NETPark was one of the very few places that had office and laboratory space designed specifically for the scientific and technical sector, so it was ideal for our type of business.
“When we moved into Discovery 1, there were just four or five of us and we rented the separate office and laboratory spaces designed to help incubate start-ups.
“By 2018, we’d grown to such an extent (we now have 20 employees) that when NETPark began building Explorer 2, we seized the opportunity to have our own bespoke space incorporated.
“The flexibility and support of the hard-working NETPark team has made all the difference to us.”
Find out more about NETPark at
telephone +44(0)1740 625250
or on Twitter @NETParkUK