Pioneering chemical development firm makes £500,000 move to NETPark

A CUTTING edge chemical and research development company, whose work is contributing to medical discoveries across the world, is expanding into new premises at the North East’s premier science and technology park.

High Force Research, which supports new product development in the fine chemicals, pharmaceutical, diagnostics and printed electronics industries, is opening a second Research Laboratory at the North East Technology Park (NETPark) in Sedgefield, County Durham, as the company looks to grow from its current 34 employees to 40.

High Force was set up 30 years ago by three research chemists and has grown organically with its main site at Bowburn North Industrial Estate, near Durham. The company is a chemical development partner for some of the world’s most innovative companies and is involved in many R&D projects, including scaling up processes to supply APIs  (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) made to cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practice) standards for early clinical trials.

The company has recently invested five hundred thousand pounds in fitting out the new lab and office space at NETPark and purchasing additional high-end analytical equipment. NETPark is managed by Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham, which works on behalf of Durham County Council.

Roy Valentine, CEO of High Force, said: “Chemistry has many applications in different business areas. It’s a worldwide industry and 60pc of our business is abroad. Our work is not just purely pharmaceutical or biochemical as chemistry is a core platform technology for a lot of industries, such as advanced materials used in printable electronics and diagnostic reagents, which all need materials manufactured to high quality standards.

“NETPark is a prestigious science park and it ticks a lot of boxes for us. We wanted to expand somewhere close to Bowburn and when we saw the units available at NETPark we thought it would work very well for both lab and office space. There is also the opportunity to expand further as required.”

Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “It’s a pleasure to welcome High Force to our NETPark site. High Force is a great example of a company, which started in County Durham, showing ambition and expanding their valuable North East workforce. Expansions like this prove we have the resources and tools available in the county to help support growing businesses.”

Brian Archer, managing director of Business Durham, said: “NETPark is the perfect environment for an innovative business such as High Force. It is surrounded by like-minded companies and will have the support it needs there to grow and thrive. We look forward to supporting the company further as it settles into NETPark.”

Janet Todd, Business Durham’s manager at NETPark, said: “High Force is a company whose skills and expertise are at the forefront of vital medical research. The company is yet another example of the global talent we have in the North East.”

High Force supports a number of PhD students in local universities which has resulted in the successful launch of a spin out company, Lightox Ltd, by Durham University academics which is based on research supported by High Force over the last ten years.

Lightox Ltd has developed a range of novel fluorescent small molecules that can be used for biological imaging applications and also in photodynamic therapy that can be used for killing both cancer cells and antibiotic resistant bacteria. It was recently awarded the Bionow Start up company of the year award.

High Force Research opens a new laboratory at NETPark in Sedgefield. From left, Operations Director Stuart Penny, Business Durham's MD Brian Archer, NETPark Manager Janet Todd, Councillor Carl Marshall of Durham County Council and CEO Roy Valentine in the new laboratory. Photograph: Stuart Boulton.

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Access to quality facilities was one of the main drivers for deciding to locate the business at the 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.

Steve Clements, - Managing Director, aXenic

CPI has developed a specialist offering to support SMEs looking to develop their printable electronics applications and our partnership with Business Durham has been instrumental in attracting several SMEs to locate here in the region.

Dr Jon Helliwell, - Director of Printable Electronics, CPI

We initially came because of the printable electronics centre but access to a highly skilled semi conductor workforce in the North East has been a key factor in us staying and growing here, as well as the value for money office space and the access to funding.

Ken Williamson, - COO, PragmatIC Printing

It fits perfectly for us that we’re surrounded by like-minded companies at NETPark. There are a number of highly skilled people in the area who can help us grow our business. The facilities and services offered by NETPark are first class, they make office life simple and engaging.

Stuart Wilson, - CEO, Ascarii

The quality of the facilities at NETPark and the attitude of staff is first class. It has a really dynamic, innovative atmosphere.

Dr Neil Loxley, - Chief executive, IBEX

The proximity to the universities and the infrastructure are very important factors. Ultimately having a presence in Europe is very valuable to us and we intend to stay at NETPark for many years to come.

Dr Arnab Basu, - CEO, Kromek
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