High Force Research
High Force Research is an independent, County Durham based, Chemical Research Organisation founded in 1988.
They are the chemical development partner supporting some of the world’s most innovative companies across numerous sectors including life sciences, performance materials and fine chemicals. However, they have particular expertise in the early-phase development and chemical synthesis of novel API’s (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) made under cGMP (current Good Manufacture Practice) standards for phase I and II clinical trials, typically supporting both early stage university spin outs and major multinational corporations.
High Force expanded their operations to NETPark in 2019, investing over £500,000 in new laboratory and office space, with further investment in high-end production and analytical equipment to create a state-of-the-art research and development facility in the Discovery 1 building here at the North East Technology Park (NETPark).
The move allowed the chemical synthesis experts to scale-up operations in new product development in the fine chemicals, pharmaceutical, diagnostics and printed electronics industries, increasing capacity from their main site at nearby Bowburn North Industrial Estate.
When CEO, Dr Roy Valentine, contacted NETPark Manager Janet Todd about the vacant space at NETPark Discovery, Janet quickly made the necessary arrangements to enable High Force to start their fit out on site as soon as possible.
Roy said: “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.
With a business like ours, it’s not just a case of signing the lease and moving in. There is an enormous amount of work that goes into the fit out and Janet’s support and expertise in this area made this process very easy. Plus, there is also the opportunity to expand further as and when required.”
Janet added: “Because we work on a daily basis with science and technology companies, we can help companies moving to NETPark fit out the labs quickly and to the very highest standard. We have a vibrant group of highly innovative and collaborative companies here at NETPark, and it was evident right from the start that High Force embraced that ethos. We’re delighted to have them here.”
Outcomes and impacts
Since moving to NETPark, High Force Research have continued to grow welcoming two new permanent members of staff, taking on new collaborative research projects with partners from around the globe, in addition to further refurbishment.
One of the major draws to a science park like NETPark are the collaborative opportunities not only with other like-minded companies on the park, but the opportunity to work easily with Durham University, a world top 100 University and a tenant on the site.
During 2019, High Force successfully completed a collaborative project with Dr John Sanderson from Durham University, the result of which has attracted the attention of business leaders with further funding opportunities underway in order to move the project forward.
What does the future hold for High Force Research
Looking to the future, High Force Research have plans to double their staff at the NETPark site as they look to expand their operations further. One area in which they hope to grow is to support and invest in collaborative opportunities with universities across the UK providing the potential to develop more internal IP to help sustain and grow, as they did with Durham University spin-out, LightOx.
High Force supported a number of PhD students working with Durham University’s Professor Andy Whiting. The research led to Professor Whiting starting LightOx two years ago, which now employs eight people.
As well as supporting the fundamental research, High Force are an investor in LightOx as well as the manufacturing partner, making the company more independent and self-sustaining, a business model they’d like to replicate.
Dr Neil Sim, Head of Research at HFR concluded: “The North East is a vibrant place for science and long may that continue. Having a science park like NETPark and the support network of Business Durham makes building a science business here in County Durham very appealing. NETPark has the perfect mix of support, infrastructure and collaborative opportunities to help a company like ours grow. We hope to stay here for many years to come.”
Find out more about High Force Research.