The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) has held a topping out ceremony to mark the completion of construction work on a new, state-of-the-art facility that will develop next generation light-based healthcare treatments.
The National Healthcare Photonics Centre will support the scale-up and commercialisation of MedTech products, acting as a hub for businesses of all sizes and academic partners to work on innovative methods of diagnosing disease, imaging systems – including endoscopy – and light-based treatments.
The facility, based at NETPark, in Sedgefield, County Durham, will host its official launch event on Tuesday, March 19.
Providing space for work across two floors, it includes a suite of specialist laboratories for optical system development and test, laser system applications development, bio-materials handling and testing, ionising radiation imaging and testing, 3D printing, electronics development and pilot manufacturing work, along with client office space to enable companies to locate onsite and work alongside CPI staff on projects.
The infrastructure has been created to enable SMEs to drive forward innovative products and services at reduced risk and with increased capital efficiencies, and to encourage large companies to undertake more disruptive innovation in the healthcare market.
The development has also allowed CPI to create a number of jobs, with the organisation’s highly-skilled team offering partners specialist support across device design and development, validation, testing, and pilot production.
The team will also provide business support to link into networks and connections within the healthcare and MedTech markets.
The photonics centre project received a £7.9m grant from the Government’s Local Growth Deal through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The Local Growth Deal is supporting major capital investments to promote innovation, economic and skills infrastructure and sustainable transport as part of the North East Growth Deal.
The centre was built by Newcastle-based Surgo Construction, with support from Durham City architect Howarth Litchfield.
Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Jake Berry MP, said: “The National Healthcare Photonics Centre in County Durham is yet another demonstration of the world-leading role the Northern Powerhouse plays in the MedTech sector and I’m delighted that this project is being supported by £7.9m from the Local Growth Fund.
“As well as helping patients by improving the way diseases are diagnosed and treated, the Centre will support the growth of innovative new companies bringing high-quality jobs to the area.”
Dr Tom Harvey, Healthcare Photonics Lead at CPI said: “Bringing together photonics experts, equipment and facilities in this new centre will enable companies to develop the latest cutting-edge MedTech products. This will benefit patients, as well as the local and national economy.”
Ray Browning, Programme Manager at the North East LEP, said: “Healthcare product development – a crucial part of the life science sector – is crucial to the growth of the regional economy.
“Our investment in CPI is a strategic one to enable the adoption of new industrial processes and products, the sharing of knowledge assets and growth in skills.
“This topping out ceremony is a proud moment, signifying that the region’s first photonics centre is now open for business and will reinforce the North-East’s capabilities on a global stage.”
Jeff Alexander, Director, Surgo Construction, said: “We are delighted to have played a part in bringing such an innovative facility to the North-East.
This project has been delivered collaboratively and is a great example of how the project’s regional supply chain has worked as one to achieve a common goal to deliver a building of which we can all be proud.”
David Pickersgill, Director Howarth Litchfield, said: “It has been a great pleasure to work on such an important, state-of-the-art building, which has been designed to provide CPI with the future flexibility it requires to lead the field in developing next-generation light-based and potentially life-changing healthcare treatments.
I believe CPI’s investment in this building is a clear demonstration not only of its commitment to advances in healthcare but also to the North-East by appointing a local architect and its wider supply chain to successfully deliver such a landmark building.”