A flagship County Durham technology park is set to expand significantly following a £50 million investment by Durham County Council, which will create over 1,200 jobs.

Plans to expand the North East Technology Park (NETPark) in Sedgefield, County Durham, have been given the go ahead by the Council’s Cabinet, which has agreed to £49.6m to finance the first phase of the expansion providing up to 270,000 sq ft of new laboratory, office, production and storage space.

Since opening in 2004, NETPark has become a collaborative community of growing science, engineering and technology businesses and is home to over 40 companies and 600 people employed on-site, delivering high value jobs in County Durham.

The success of NETPark is such that expansion space is needed so that companies can reach their full potential. NETPark Phase Three will be developed on council owned land to accommodate the growing demand, both from businesses already established in the park and from companies looking to relocate or expand their operations.

NETPark is managed by Business Durham, the business support service of Durham County Council, and it will also oversee the new development.

The initial phase of NETPark Phase Three is part of larger expansion plans to the park, which include a Masterplan for up to 433,800 sq ft across a 26-acre site. The new development will offer design and build opportunities from 5,000 – 80,000 sq ft as well as speculative units of various sizes.

Cllr James Rowlandson, Cabinet Member for resources, investment and assets at Durham County Council, said: “It’s exciting to see NETPark’s Phase Three expansion going ahead. This investment reaffirms the Council’s original vision for NETPark and our commitment to the ongoing creation of a world class centre for businesses developing the next generation of advanced technologies.

“The plans to expand NETPark demonstrate the importance of NETPark to the region’s economy, not only is it the go to place for people and companies with great ideas and ambition, but it plays a key role in creating more and better jobs for our workforce. The expansion will create 1,250 direct jobs and a further 2,200 in the supply chain in thriving industries which will help deliver a strong and competitive economy.”

With demand for specialist facilities on-site increasing, NETPark Phase 3 will enable more high-growth science, engineering and technology companies to design and build bespoke premises to grow, scale-up and commercialise their operations at the science park.

Dr Gary Gibson, founder of Dyman Advanced Materials, said: “I have worked for various companies at NETPark for the last 15 years and in that time have seen the science park grow from an initial incubator housing young innovative companies to a fully-fledged science park.  As a business owner, in addition to the quality of the accommodation, the support provided by the team from Business Durham, have made the difficult journey of growing a business so much easier.

“I’ve had a chance to look at the ideas for the Phase Three development and the design and type of buildings will be a massively exciting enhancement to the park, providing accommodation that I believe will be hugely attractive to companies.”

Atif Syed, Chairman, CEO & Founder at NETPark based Wootzano Ltd said: “Wootzano is on a trajectory to build dexterous robotic systems for fruit packaging which has already started at NETPark within Explorer 2 office space. Following the £300 million deal Wootzano signed earlier this year, Wootzano is aiming to expand its manufacturing capabilities and is intending to take up over 80,000 sq ft space in NETPark Phase 3. We hope to continue our business expansion and places like NETPark are instrumental in our expansion.”

The collaborative approach to the continued development of NETPark has been recognised nationally by a report from the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), stating that the site is ‘a strong example of local leadership bringing great benefits.’ The report added that the science park is ‘a great example of local Government being innovative in its approach to support and foster local R&D.’

Plans include ambitions to develop the North East Space Hub at NETPark, providing the UK’s next space innovation gateway to stimulate and grow the space sector in the region.  The North East already has a flourishing space cluster nurtured by the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence also based at NETPark, where there is a ready-made, collaborative and vibrant science and technology community.

NELEP provided a £5m grant as part of the Government’s North East Growth Deal for infrastructure work including a new road, creating a junction onto the strategically important A177, opening up critical development land.

NETPark is also home to three national innovation centres operated by CPI (National Formulations Centre, National Centre for Healthcare Photonics & National Centre for Printable Electronics) as well as Durham University’s Centre for Advanced Instrumentation and Orbit, the new University Enterprise Zone.

Commenting on the investment Arun Harish, Strategy Director at CPI, said: “The North East has a thriving scientific and industrial sector that is globally competitive, vibrant and viable and NETPark adds to this. Collaboration is at the heart of CPI’s strategy as we continue to serve multiple established and emerging industries. Having this investment for growth will build upon NETPark’s capability and will help the region transform its research ideas into new products, helping to create jobs and support the regional economy.”

To find out about locating your business at NETPark or to request a viewing, please contact Janet Todd, NETPark Manager on 01740 625 250 or e-mail enquiries@northeasttechnologypark.com.

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