Since expanding operations to NETPark in 2014, RF communications manufacturer Filtronic have found their Sedgefield base the perfect place to grow their business, increasing their turnover, occupancy footprint and number of staff at the County Durham site.
Filtronic specialise in the design and manufacture of radio frequency (RF) communications solutions including filters and mmWave transceivers. Their technology has applications in numerous sectors including Defence and Aerospace, Mobile Telecommunications Infrastructure and Critical Communications such as first responder communications. The Company also offers a wide range of manufacturing assembly services for some of the world’s leading micro-electronic organisations.
Founded at Leeds University in 1977, Filtronic quickly grew to become the largest company to spin-out of a UK university. In 2014 Filtronic Broadband moved its operations to NETPark as they expanded their manufacturing, research and development capabilities taking 12,500 sq ft of space within the NETPark Plexus building.
The new lab and office space enabled Filtronic to keep up with demand for their innovative transceivers that enable big data communication, perfect for 4G and 5G and new innovative communication platforms such as High-Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) and Low Earth Orbit satellites (LEO).
“Filtronic chose NETPark for a number of reasons including the modern infrastructure and facilities, the established, innovative and like-minded businesses located there and finally the flexibility it offers to enable us to scale our business.” says Michael Tyerman, Chief Financial Officer.
Since moving to NETPark Filtronic have gone from strength to strength, passing many major milestones most notably becoming a market leader in mmWave technology, they have also expanded their manufacturing assembly capabilities, specifically within the Defence sector. Recently Filtronic have been pushing the boundaries of communication by becoming a major technology supplier to the growing HAPS sector.
Throughout their journey Business Durham and NETPark have been on hand to provide the flexibility Filtronic needed to grow and develop the business. NETPark Manager Janet Todd explains: “As a science park we work with many high-tech companies giving us a detailed understanding and appreciation of how important flexibility is, in terms of both physical space and lease terms.
As Filtronic expanded their portfolio we have worked closely with them to facilitate and support their growth. As landlords we provide a fully managed workspace, which is appreciated by our tenants as it allows companies to focus their energy on the existing and emerging technologies being developed and manufactured. We are delighted that we have been able to support Filtronic as they have grown here at NETPark and we look forward to working with them for many years to come.”
More recently Filtronic received a capital grant from the County Durham Growth Fund, an ERDF funded programme led by Business Durham, who manage NETPark. The capital grant scheme is for County Durham businesses to help them expand or establish new operations.
Filtronic were awarded £150,000 towards a £1.0 million capital investment which significantly increased capacity, helped the company win more contracts, become more efficient and accelerate growth. The funding has enabled Filtronic to take on an additional 5,071 sq ft of space in NETPark Plexus increasing their total occupancy to 17,571 sq ft, this in addition to taking on up to 36 new members of staff.
Filtronic Chief Financial Officer Michael Tyerman added: “The way we communicate is changing dramatically and with the increased growth in traffic expected from 5G, network capacity has to be improved.
To address this challenge, we have invested significant R&D activity in developing a number of E-band products which can deliver high performance at a competitive cost, which have understandably attracted interest from a number of potential new customers.
Thanks to our own capital investment and the fantastic support we’ve had from the County Durham Growth Fund and the team at NETPark, we have been able to expand our manufacturing and testing facilities, allowing us to produce in larger quantities which will enable us to win work with other companies, accelerating our plans for growth.”
Looking to the future Filtronic are targeting more growth, with diversification into other complimentary markets taking advantage of satellite technology to deliver satellite-based internet solutions which can make connectivity more accessible, less expensive and more reliable.
Another area of expansion is within the transport sector, with the company currently involved in a trial that aims to dramatically improve connectivity on trains using their mmWave transceivers.
Michael Tyerman concluded: “We have found NETPark to be the perfect location to grow our business and we look forward to working with the Business Durham team and growing our operations at NETPark for many years to come.”
Find out more about Filtronic.
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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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The quality of the facilities at NETPark and the attitude of staff is first class. It has a really dynamic, innovative atmosphere.