The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), the UK’s technology innovation provider for process manufacturing has started construction of its National Centre for Healthcare Photonics.

Senior representatives from CPI and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) alongside MP for Sedgefield Phil Wilson initiated construction of the centre in a traditional ground breaking ceremony at the plot for the new building at NETPark in County Durham.

Set to open in December 2018, the National Centre for Healthcare Photonics will provide open access facilities and expertise to help companies develop technologies that use light for healthcare applications and turn them into commercially viable products. By reducing the barriers that commonly prevent early research and inventions reaching market, this will ultimately provide novel and improved ways to diagnose and treat disease. Healthcare photonics technologies can have applications in the early diagnosis and monitoring of chronic diseases such as diabetes or acute diseases such as cancer or brain injury. Lasers are now widely used in the treatment of various eye conditions and in surgical procedures. Once opened, the centre will present the North East as a global hub for the healthcare photonics industry.

Dr Tom Harvey, Strategic Programme Manager for Healthcare Photonics, CPI said, “Photonics is a key enabling technology for a range of healthcare products related to imaging, diagnostics and therapy. The new centre will provide expertise and facilities to help companies bring these products to market more quickly, with less risk and at lower cost, which will ultimately benefit patients.”

Phil Wilson, MP for Sedgefield said “The impact of the work that the National Centre for Healthcare Photonics will undoubtedly be far-reaching. The work done here in Sedgefield, with technologies which help the diagnosis and monitoring of diseases from diabetes to cancer, can ultimately improve the lives of patients locally and much further afield. To have the North East as the photonics industry global hub is fantastic and something for the whole region to be proud of.”

The project will be supported with an £8.3m grant from the Local Growth Fund, through the North East LEP. Richard Baker, Head of Policy and Strategy at the North East LEP, said: “The North East is developing a strong reputation nationally and internationally for its expertise in a range of medical treatments and technologies, helping to improve lives and deliver new opportunities for business growth and new jobs. This is an exciting time for healthcare photonics and we’re thrilled that the North East will be home to an open-access facility of national importance in this area which will help encourage further innovation, encouraging expertise to grow and new investment into the region.”