10 Questions: Arnab Basu

May 1, 2019

Dr Arnab Basu is the founding chief executive of Kromek Group, a spin-out from Durham University. It supplies cutting-edge radiation detection technology, with many of its products based on cadmium zinc telluride (CZT), which has a unique combination of properties that enable colour and digital detection of radiation for Homeland Security, medical, industrial and laboratory applications. Named Ernst & Young’s UK Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009, Arnab received an MBE for services to regional development and international trade in 2014. Headquartered at NETPark, in Sedgefield, County Durham, Kromek was founded in 2003 and has been listed on the AIM market since 2013

What was your first break in business?

I grew up in India and worked in the family business in the material processing industry, which gave me a very good grounding in all aspects of business. After I did my PhD in physics at Durham University, I had the opportunity to take up a career in investment banking, but instead chose to be the first person through the door at Kromek.

I have never regretted that decision.

What did you want to be growing up?

Like many boys growing up in India, I dreamt of being a cricketer. However, I was also fascinated by science and technology, and from an early age I wanted to pursue a career in industry.

What attracted you to your current role?

I knew that Durham University had developed unique technology based on years of research into CZT and that this material had enormous potential if it could be commercialised. It was a huge challenge, but I think the opportunity to build a company from scratch in a field that can positively affect peoples’ wellbeing comes around very rarely and I grabbed it.

What is your organisation’s mission?

Our mission is to make the lives of people safer – whether that’s helping to detect a dirty bomb or other radiological threat, keeping them safe while travelling, or through the early diagnosis of diseases such as osteoporosis, dementia and cancer. We want to enable our customers and the end users of our technology to take more effective decisions based on superior information, which ultimately leads to increased operational efficiency and lower costs.

How do you get the best out of your staff?

We set the strategy for the company so that all our people, on the technical and commercial side, have clear roles and responsibilities, but we want them to have the freedom to help the business grow. I am a firm believer in giving people the opportunity to be creative, innovative and grow in their roles.

What has been your career highlight?

Moving from an incubator into our headquarters at NETPark in 2010 was a real milestone, as was becoming a public company in 2013 and last year’s opening of a new, world-class manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania.

I have loved being able to champion the North East and British business through involvement in organisations such as the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and Innovate UK.

On a personal level, I was very proud to be awarded an MBE and to become a patron of St. Margaret’s Centre, in Durham, a support centre for adults suffering from mental health problems.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Having a transformative technology, we have faced the hurdles that every emergent technology faces, namely moving it from niche use to mass market adoption and productising the technology platform. Our detector technology is like moving from an old black and white film camera to a colour high-resolution camera that can fit in your pocket. Bringing this technology into the nuclear, medical imaging and security sectors globally has created all the challenges you would expect.

Who or what inspires you?

My father was always a big inspiration growing up and during the early years of my career. I have been very fortunate to work with some extremely talented people, in various boards and across our business, who have always been very generous in sharing their experiences and expertise, which has helped shape me.

What is your organisation’s short and long-term goals?

We have laid a solid foundation for the business by building technology platforms, a global customer base and a product portfolio.

In the long-term, we will continue our growth strategy. We strive to be a global force that has scale and influence and becomes the de facto standard for detection in the sectors we serve while also uncovering new ones along the way.

How do you achieve a good work/life balance?

I have a time-consuming and high-pressure job that involves a lot of travel, both in the UK and abroad, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I always appreciate getting home to spend time with my family. I still love my cricket and can’t wait for the ICC Cricket World Cup, which takes place in England, to start at the end of this month.

Kromek Group
01740 626060

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In the limelight: May 2019