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Netpark at Sedgefield, County Durham to host innovation supply chain conference

Manufacturers in the North-East should collaborate with high-tech companies earlier to take advantage of opportunities in the lucrative innovation supply chain.

That will be just one of the messages innovation leaders will be sharing when they gather at the Innovation Supply Chain Conference, which will be held at the North East Technology Park (NETPark), in Sedgefield, County Durham.

The event, on March 10, has attracted key speaker Dr Ruth McKernan CBE, chief executive of Innovate UK as well as Dr Graham Hillier from NETPark-based CPI and PolyPhotonix chief executive, Richard Kirk.

NETPark is already home to some of the world’s most innovative companies such as Kromek and PolyPhotonix, but ambitious expansion plans over the next ten years will see hundreds of jobs created, not only on the science park, but in the local supply chain.

Business Durham, the economic development company for County Durham, which runs NETPark and is organising the conference, hopes it will provide the platform to engage with local businesses; foster collaborations and help demystify the perception around the potential opportunities in the science and technology supply chain. They are opportunities which will be provided by NETPark companies both now and also in the future.

Business Durham’s innovation and business growth director, Catherine Johns, said: “We know that NETPark creates high quality home-grown jobs, both on site and off site. Every job on a science park generates between 1.5 and 3.6 jobs in its local supply chain. By collaborating with local companies at an early stage we can ensure that they are the first to benefit from the future expansion of NETPark, in turn boosting the economic productivity and prosperity in the region.”

They are opportunities provided by companies such as NETPark-based PolyPhotonix, whose Noctura 400 sleep mask is a home-based, non-invasive and monitored treatment for people with diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular oedema.

Mr Kirk, said: “We quickly realised that without a robust and supportive supply chain that it would be difficult to both develop the product for market readiness and also attract investment funding.

“Being a medical device manufacturer there are considerable regulatory hurdles to jump. Without the full engagement of our manufacturing partners from the start it would have been far more difficult to achieve the quality and standards required.”

John Pearson, chief operating officer for CI Medical Technologies, in Barnard Castle, which is a member of the virtual community NETPark Net and assembly integrator of the Noctura 400 mask on behalf of PolyPhotonix, said: “We met Richard Kirk through networking at NETPark and got involved early in the prototype stage of the Noctura 400. A lot of manufacturers can miss out on opportunities if they don’t get involved at the development stage. It allows you to build a relationship with the customer so when they’re looking for a production supply it gives you the edge and you have that relationship there to build on.”

The Innovation Supply Chain Conference will take place at NETPark, Sedgefield, in County Durham on March 10. To find out more and book your place visit

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