The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) and Durham University have joined forces in a project that will assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Country Durham to commercialise photonics and other emerging technologies through localised innovation infrastructure and commercialisation services. The project, called Spotlight, will run for three years, and is supported with funds from the European Regional Development Fund.

Photonic technologies use light for a range of healthcare applications including therapies, diagnostics, imaging and surgical interventions. This is an exciting and rapidly growing area globally, as the demand for non-invasive, cost-effective, rapid and/or personalised care and treatment rises.

There are many SMEs in County Durham with growth ambitions in the photonics area that need help with early-stage proof of concept research and scaling up their technologies to accelerate commercialisation. Through this project, companies will get access to experienced senior staff at Durham University and CPI with strong track records in the research, innovation and the commercialisation process of photonics and emerging technologies. In addition, the project will offer consultation services in areas such as market assessment, health economics, regulatory and legislative matters, and specialised photonics.

The project is a collaboration between CPI and Durham University, and further expertise will be brought in to provide specialist services such as device approval. The project will work with local SMEs to understand their specific needs, find out what stage in the innovation process they are at and what assistance they require. A tailored package of practical laboratory-based work and/or support services will then be put together to help SMEs to realise their product concept or development quicker and at lower risk.

Professor John Girkin of the Department of Physics at Durham University and academic lead for the Spotlight project said: “The primary goal and key benefits of this project are to provide SMEs with support services to accelerate their technology commercialisation and into improving healthcare. This project also fits into a wider initiative benefitting County Durham by creating a healthcare photonics and medical technologies development hub in the area.”

Tom Harvey, Strategic Programmes Manager, Head of Technology – Healthcare Photonics at CPI said: “This project will drive long-term inward innovation investment into the region, in combination with CPI’s National Centre for Healthcare Photonics development at NETPark in Sedgefield. Ultimately, this is part of a vision to create a UK hub for healthcare photonics and medical technology companies to develop technologies within this field.”

The project will be launched at an event at CPI’s printable electronics facility at NETPark, Sedgefield on Thursday 22nd March.  SMEs are invited to attend to find out more about this opportunity and how they can access and apply for the support available.  Registration is at