Work begins on £1.4m Durham University office workspace at NETPark

Work to create a £1.4m office workspace for technology and science-focused businesses has begun.

Orbit, which is run by Durham University, will give members access to office, hot-desking, networking, and collaboration space.

It will be based within one of the University’s research institutes at the North East Technology Park (NETPark), a leading science park.

Members will also receive targeted business guidance, support, and regular sessions delivered by the University’s researchers on a range of subjects.

Jenny Taylor, head of economic development at Durham University, said: “We are so pleased that work has begun on fully repurposing and refurbishing part of our research institute at NETPark.

“Orbit will provide the space to help businesses to grow and innovate by supporting them to collaborate with our researchers and students.

“University research is vital to local economic growth, even more so in a time when many businesses have faced challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We hope that Orbit will drive up levels of research investment in the region, promote productivity and support jobs growth.”

The project brings together several North East-based agencies, including VEST Construction, Space Architects, Identity Consult (development consultants) and Cundall (engineering consultancy).

Durham has worked closely with Business Durham and CPI who are supporting the project and will work collaboratively on delivery once operational.

Sarah Slaven, interim managing director at Business Durham, said: “Orbit will be a fantastic addition to NETPark and we look forward to seeing many more spin-out businesses coming out of the University and following in the footsteps of businesses such as Kromek who have gone on to enjoy huge global success.

“It is vitally important that we invest in providing the right infrastructure, assistance and academic expertise to support, encourage and facilitate innovation in the county.

“Alongside our strategic partners Durham University and CPI, NETPark provides the right ecosystem to support businesses throughout their lifecycle from concept to commercialisation. Orbit is a welcome addition to NETPark that will help us widen those opportunities to businesses and maximise commercial opportunities with Durham University.”

Sophie Walton, Group Director of Academic Engagement at CPI, added: “We are delighted to be supporting this initiative from Durham University.

“Orbit’s membership model is very innovative, and businesses will not only be able to readily tap into world-class scientific capability but will also get support in achieving their commercialisation ambition – such as scaling up of their technologies, finding finance options, or refining their business propositions.

“We love seeing technology businesses grow and prosper and initiatives like Orbit can have a substantial acceleration effect on company growth, helping create jobs and supporting the regional economy in what is currently a very tricky business climate.”

Expressions of interest in becoming a member at Orbit can be made to

News source: Durham University.

A £1.4m project will provide a contemporary workspace for technology and science-focused businesses

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The North East Technology Park provides a dynamic and supportive environment to accelerate the growth of ambitious, innovative, high tech companies into global markets. NETPark encourages collaborative multidisciplinary links, driving innovation, enterprise and economic prosperity.
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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

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

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

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

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

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
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