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Innovation In County Durham

Matching what's needed with what's possible.

aXenic Ltd

aXenic is a leading supplier of ultra-high speed optical modulators for 100GHz and beyond. Based on their unique and mature Gallium Arsenide technology, aXenic, manufactures and markets highly competitive products for High Speed Communication applications. Offering superior performance in demanding markets such as Test and Measurement Equipment and Aerospace, especially Satellite Communications. 

aXenic is a tenant at the North East Technology Park (NETPark) Incubator with a suite of fully fitted cleanroom,  laboratory and high quality office space in which to conduct research and development across their product portfolio. As a NETPark tenant, aXenic plays an active part in the NETPark innovation network and has benefited from access to networking opportunities at NETPark’s regular events and breakfast briefing sessions, and access to regional expertise on subjects such finance, skills and operations. 

Steve Clements, CEO of aXenic, said: ‘Access to quality facilities was one of the main drivers for deciding to locate the business at NETPark. We have been able to use this as a launch pad to link into support from CPI and world class expertise from Durham University’. 

The company has worked closely with Durham University to conduct further research and development around their technology. The company has accessed the confocal microscopy facility in Biological and Biomedical Sciences as well as collaborating with the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences. 


The company is also actively engaged with the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence, which is located at NETPark, to explore delivery of technology and projects within the global space sector. This includes identifying project and funding opportunities and navigating the business support landscape to access funding from Innovate UK and European Framework projects.

Click here to find out how your business can tap into the space sector

  • Romag, the oldest manufacturer of bespoke glass and solar products in the North East, transform traditional architectural spaces with beautiful modern coloured solar panels which utilise light to create clean energy
    Read the case study
  • The first light from the European Extremely Large Telescope designed by the European Southern Observatory is due to take place in 2024, but much of the work on its optical technology has already started here in Durham.Read the case study
  • Durham teachers are being inspired with ideas on how to engage children with light and smart materials in their lessons.
  • A new £18m National Centre for Healthcare Photonics is being created at NETPark in County Durham. Planned to open in 2017, it will be one of the world's most exciting places where businesses, academia, entrepreneurs and investors come together to develop new technologies using light to diagnose and treat medical conditions and illnesses. Read the full story
  • A bit of clever robot weld programming has come from local innovator, Andrew Turner, at NETPark – the science park just a few miles from Durham city. A former Senior Engineer for a major car parts manufacturer, Andrew drew from his own experience to solve a costly welding problem in automotive welding. Read the case study
  • Orcalight, in Stanley, County Durham is a diving light maker helping renowned documentary makers capture stunning images of the world.Read the case study
  • Secondary school pupils all over County Durham are asked to reimagine their future through the Future Business Magnates competition in 2015. They were challenged to come up with new ways of using light.
  • Lumiere, the biggest light festival in the UK with 175,000 visitors, happens every two years in Durham. It returns in November 2017.
  • Thorn Lighting is a major employer in County Durham and makes modern, energy efficient lighting for work and leisure uses.
  • Using ultra-stable lasers, Durham physicists are cooling atoms to the point at which they hardly move. This is important to create atoms that will enable quantum computing using light, computing power beyond what we have today.
  • Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) is working to use organic light emitting diodes to create a whole new generation of windowless airplane fuselages. This will transform how you see your flight from inside the plane, and also help reduce fuel consumption significantly.
  • Kromek uses its patented digital colour X-ray and gamma ray technology in a range of products that deal with liquid based threats in aviation security and border control, as well as the security and industrial inspection markets.
  • Durham University’s Centre for Advanced Instrumentation builds instruments for major telescopes, enabling us to observe the universe in new ways.
  • Durham University is using photophysics to develop new ways of tackling counterfeiters and to monitor what actually takes place in your dishwasher or washing machine at a microscopic scale.
  • Using technology originally developed at Durham University for Europe’s Extremely Large Telescope, researchers are also applying these methods to advance optical microscopy which is being used to study live zebrafish to help understand heart disease.
  • The University is home to the former Astronomer Royal, Sir Arnold Wolfendale, who carries on the proud tradition of Durham and astronomy.
  • Thomas Wright, the astronomer, was the first to describe the shape of the Milky Way. He was born in County Durham in 1711.
  • Ibex Innovations created and now offers low dose, high contrast X-ray imaging which delivers higher safety and efficiency through improved visibility of defects.
  • Optical communication uses light to carry information. Located here in Durham is aXenic, a global technology leader in optical communications components and subsystems for high-speed voice, video and data communications for networking, storage, wireless, and cable TV applications.
  • Durham University’s Biophysical Sciences Institute has developed a use for infrared to treat dementia and detect early dental disease.
  • Multi-award winner Polyphotonix has developed a non-invasive organic light emitting diode treatment for diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of preventable blindness in the developed world with a potential customer base of 320 million worldwide and saving the NHS £1BN a year

Innovation News

Victory for north east-based Stream Bio at Institute of Physics Business Awards 2018

Stream Bio Ltd, a company that develops and manufactures a range of revolutionary bioimaging Show Details
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Innovation Case Studies


NETPark has been instrumental in changing perceptions of the North East, as Paul Wright, Show Details
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Useful Events

Innovation Breakfast Networking - November 2018

The monthly Innovation Breakfast Talk (formerly NETPark Net breakfast) networking sessions are informal, informative, Show Details
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