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Business & Economy

NETPark businesses benefit from innovative incubation space 

A pharmaceutical company and a specialist cybersecurity firm have expanded their businesses and workforces since moving into new high-tech facilities at the North East Technology Park.

Northumbria Pharma and Tekgem have moved into Discovery iZone, the new incubation space within Discovery 1, at NETPark in Sedgefield, County Durham.

NETPark is managed by Business Durham, the economic development arm of Durham County Council, and is home to some of the world’s fastest-growing science, engineering and technology companies.

The Discovery iZone has been created to complement the existing NETPark Plexus facility, and to provide companies with specialist laboratory, clean room and office space so they can develop prototypes, scale-up and manufacture on site.

Following a £394,000 investment, including a £197,000 incubation grant from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) through the Local Growth Fund, Discovery 1, NETPark has increased its capacity with two 600 sq ft combined office and laboratory spaces and a 1000sq ft class 10,000 clean room built to ISO7 standards.

Northumbria Pharma, a pharmaceutical company specialising in the research, development, manufacture, licensing and marketing of unique and vital pharmaceutical products, has taken space at the Discovery iZone together with associated offices and labs totalling 6500 sq ft.

Founded in late 2016 by Paul Watson and Dr Samer Taslaq, Northumbria Pharma originally had a small laboratory space at NETPark but has continued to grow ever since, initially expanding within NETPark Plexus followed by their relocation to Discovery 1.  

Paul Watson, co-Founder and R&D director at Northumbria Pharma, said: “We’re thrilled to have been able to move into the Discovery iZone as it has enabled us to continue to grow the company, and expand our team. We now employ 24 staff and are able to manufacture the products we develop in-house now that we have access to a specialist clean room, which means we can deliver high-quality affordable products that create meaningful benefits to patients and healthcare professionals.

Tekgem, an industrial cybersecurity company, relocated from the Wilton Centre in Redcar to the Discovery iZone in November 2019 and is the first company of its kind to join NETPark.

The company, which specialises in securing critical assets and infrastructure for industrial automation and control systems within the engineering and manufacturing sectors, has grown exponentially since moving to NETPark and now has ten permanent members of staff.

Ian Gemski, founder and director of Tekgem, said: “NETPark was the perfect location to relocate to for numerous reasons including having fantastic facilities to a very high standard, a campus feel which our young staff base really like and the opportunity to network and collaborate with the other companies at the park.

“Since moving to NETPark, Tekgem has continued to grow and we have doubled in size by employing people from across County Durham.”

Sarah Slaven, interim managing director at Business Durham, added: “We’re delighted to be able to provide this additional space with support from the North East LEP. This investment is enabling the county to encourage small enterprises, like Northumbria Pharma and Tekgem, to locate at NETPark, creating high value jobs and adding to the continued growth of NETPark.”

Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration said: “We are pleased to be supporting Business Durham in working with North East enterprises looking to grow their business. High-standard facilities, such as that in NETPark, are a fantastic opportunity for local companies to find space to expand while staying in the region. It also means that vital jobs can stay in County Durham and, as businesses grow, more employment opportunities are created.”

Alan Welby, innovation director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The Discovery buildings at NETPark are helping to support the next generation of innovative and pioneering businesses in the North East. The facilities on site are world-class and provide organisations, universities and entrepreneurs a place where they can develop cutting edge ideas with expert support and advice from the community of businesses that call NETPark home.”