AMBITIOUS plans to create hundreds of new jobs at a fast-growing North East science park has taken a major step forward with the opening of a new 1km road.
Dignitaries gathered at the North East Technology Park (NETPark) in Sedgefield, County Durham, during National Science Week to mark the opening of the road, named Rosalind Franklin Way after the pioneering scientist who contributed towards the discovery of DNA.
The works will allow a further 26 acres of land to be developed and forms Phase 3 of expansion plans at NETPark, to create additional space for research and development companies which need room to prototype and scale up to manufacture on site.
NETPark is already home to some of the world’s most innovative companies and the latest development could lead to the creation of around 1,400 jobs.
Brian Archer, managing director at Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham which runs NETPark, said: “The next phase of our development offers businesses the opportunity to configure their own workspace with the optimum mix of lab, office, cleanroom and storage space as required.
“Phase 3 offers a clear progression path for the innovative companies on the park which are growing. We have the land and infrastructure to facilitate that growth and the bespoke development opportunities of this expansion will also attract new companies from outside of the region to locate here. They will join a vibrant community of world-class companies making a difference on a global scale.”
The launch of the new road was held next to NETPark’s bold Synergy sculpture, five inflated metal spheres which emulate the logo of the technology when seen in space, ahead of a Powered by People business debate at the park.
The infrastructure works were made possible thanks to a £5m grant from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Local Growth Fund (LGF) last year as part of the North East Growth Deal from the Government. The LGF is a key element of the funding and supports major capital investments which promote innovation, economic and skills infrastructure and sustainable transport across the North East LEP area.
Business Durham also received £3.2m investment from the North East LEP’s Local Growth Fund towards the cost of the two new £7.6m ‘Explorer’ buildings, which brings the total investment to £12.6m.
Recent tenants to move into the Explorer building include IBEX, which is at the forefront of x-ray imaging technology; PragmatIC, a world leader in the design and manufacture of ultra low cost, flexible electronics and Quorum Development, an innovative software company, which is working with some of the world’s leading energy suppliers.
Cllr Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said: “NETPark is a shining example of the innovative and supportive environment we are striving to create for businesses and investors across County Durham.
“The new road will open up even more land for development, attracting new businesses to the site and allowing existing enterprises to expand. This will create more high quality jobs and exciting opportunities for people at all stages of their careers, from apprentices and university graduates, to experienced scientists and professionals looking for a new challenge.”
David Land, board member at the North East LEP, said: “The completion of this new road opens up new opportunities for NETPark allowing further development to move forward on the site and contribute to our aim of creating 100,000 more and better jobs for our region by 2024.”
The development forms part of the 10-year strategy for NETPark, which includes creating 3,000 jobs and adding another £400m to the region’s GVA.
It is already home to Durham University’s Centre for Advanced Instrumentation, two of the Government’s Catapult centres - the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence and High Value Manufacturing, and four national technology centres: Printable Electronics, Formulation, Graphene Applications and Healthcare Photonics, all managed by the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI).