CPI leads high value engineering in the north east

A national report published by the Royal Bank of Scotland has identified the North East of England as one of the leading areas for high value engineering (HVE) and highlighted the work undertaken at The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI).

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The technology innovation centre, which has sites at Wilton near Redcar and NETPark in Sedgefield, County Durham, has been recognised for its commitment to develop innovative solutions for the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food and drink, biotechnology, printable electronics (PE) and energy sectors.

As one of seven partners in the Government’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, which launched just over 12 months ago, CPI is leading the way in cutting edge process technologies and helping to create a centre of excellence for the region. The catapult centres were created to bring together knowledge, share expertise and develop opportunities between businesses, research organisations, the government and academic institutions.

The RBS report – The Future of UK High Value Engineering – highlights the importance of the relationship between the catapult centres and the regions that are expected to be at the forefront of the manufacturing race, with Newcastle highlighted as a city which could help influence the growth and direction of UK manufacturing. The presence of CPI, with its sites in Teesside and County Durham, has helped to identify the region as a high value engineering hotspot’. 

The paper also reports the high levels of confidence in the region, stating that Manufacturers in the North of England are the most confident about their turnover for the next 5 years, with 84 per cent claiming it will grow. A fifth of businesses in the North even say their turnover will rise by over 50 per cent in this time period.’

With a diverse range of assets valued at over £60m, CPI has successfully completed over 230 private and public projects with a total value in excess of £300m since its inception in 2004.

One such company is Peratech, who are working with CPI to further develop their technology and processes to create sensors and switches that can be integrated into everyday materials and utilised in a wide range of applications. CPI provides a wide range of support for the Peratech team, supplying development facilities and equipment, alongside materials and technical support.

The North East based company has recently received £1.1m venture capital investment, and won the 2012 Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation. One of its recent development is a clear force-sensing material that has the potential to create a new generation of touch screen displays, for which a multi-million dollar license deal with a Japanese manufacturer has already been signed.

The technology innovation centre has also worked with Durham Graphene Science (DGS) to help in the development of a novel process for the manufacture of high specification graphene. DGS aims to further develop and retail products containing graphene, a key emerging carbon product with exciting functionality.

Currently, CPI’s experience and state of the art facilities are also allowing start-up company Polyphotonix to develop low energy organic lighting applications for the architectural, automotive, medical and creative sectors through printable electronics technology. The company is currently benefitting from the knowledge and expertise within CPI’s National Printable Electronics Centre.

Richard Kirk, CEO for Polyphotonix said: Remaining lean and responsive – with short chains of communication between us and CPI – has given us the freedom and flexibility to react to new opportunities. We are able to book time and space in the clean room and to use the equipment we need when we need it. CPI’s extensive resources and support have enabled us to grow at an accelerated pace, faster than is usually possible for a start-up. Quite honestly, without CPI we wouldn’t be here – that’s the bottom line.”

Nigel Perry, Chief Executive Officer, The Centre for Process Innovation said: As stated in the report, the UK high value manufacturing industry faces substantial obstacles as it looks to advance the evolution of innovative new products, technologies and services. With a rich heritage in these industries, the North East in particular has been charged with adapting to changing market demands to ensure its continued economic growth. 

In response to such demands, CPI was created. We have worked to provide commercially viable solutions to meet this concern. While initially recognised for our contribution to the regional process and chemical industry, we are now firmly established as a national and indeed international centre of excellence based in the North East, which this report has acknowledged. That we were selected to play a key role in the High Value Manufacturing Catapult in 2011 is testament to our reputation as one of the leading national centres for innovation and our commitment to harnessing the very best skills and expertise found in the North East to deliver tangible results for the country as a whole.” 

Peter Russell, Head of Manufacturing & Industrials, UK Sector Coverage, RBS Corporate & Institutional Banking, said: I am hugely excited at the outlook for the HVE segment over the coming years. What is evident from this report is just how much knowledge and capability, not to mention success, already exists within the UK.

The challenge for the next decade, and beyond, will be how the UK goes about nurturing the opportunities that new and emerging technologies, such as 3D printing and nano-structured materials will create, not just in terms of their scientific development but also their early adoption and application by HVE companies, thereby helping the UK to take the lead, ahead of other nations who will also be striving to develop these new markets.”