CPI has today officially opened a new, state-of-the-art facility focused on the development of 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 and light-based treatments. 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.
The aim of the facility is to reduce the barriers that are preventing promising research and early-stage inventions from moving beyond the laboratory and into innovative healthcare solutions for patients. The new centre includes a suite of specialist laboratories capable of carrying out optical system development and testing, laser system applications development, microscopy and imaging of bio-materials, diagnostic test development, new materials characterisation, ionising radiation imaging and testing, additive manufacturing, electronics development and pilot manufacturing work.
Allowing CPI to create a number of jobs, the centre will help SMEs drive forward innovative products and services at reduced risk and with increased capital efficiencies, while supporting large companies to undertake more disruptive innovation in the healthcare market.
As well as commissioning work or participating in collaborative development projects, companies will be able to locate onsite and work alongside CPI’s highly-skilled team. CPI also offers partners specialist support across device design and development, validation, testing and pilot production, as well as business support to link into networks and connections within the Healthcare and MedTech markets.
Supported by a £7.9m grant from the Government’s Local Growth Deal, through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the cutting-edge facility, based at NETPark, in Sedgefield, County Durham, was officially opened in a ceremony led by Nigel Perry MBE FREng, CPI Chief Executive, and Dr Tom Harvey, CPI Healthcare Photonics Lead with Alan Welby, North East LEP Innovation Director.
Additionally, there were a number of addresses from leading industry figures.
They included Andrew Robertson, Senior Vice-President for Business Development at Gooch & Housego, who spoke about emerging and established photonic technologies in the medical sector, and Professor Andy Whiting, LightOx Chief Technology Officer, who told delegates of LightOx’s work alongside CPI to advance the development of next generation cancer treatment using phototherapeutic methods.
The session concluded with talks about two of the key pieces of equipment which will be available in the new Photonics Centre; first of all, Dr Katherine Lewis spoke about Nikon’s new A1RHD Multiphoton microscope, and then PicoQuant’s Dr Fabian Jolmes spoke about fluorescence lifetime imaging and new market possibilities for this technique. Afterwards, guests were given guided tours of the National Healthcare Photonics Centre’s laboratories.
Nigel Perry, CPI Chief Executive, said: “We are tremendously proud to be opening our new National Healthcare Photonics Centre, which is a clear indication of our commitment to supporting next generation manufacturing.
“As a member of the Government’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, this investment emphasises our crucial position in the innovation continuum, with our state-of-the-art facilities and outstanding expertise helping partners progress on their journey to commercialisation.”
Jake Berry MP, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, said: “The National Healthcare Photonics Centre is yet another demonstration of the world-leading role the Northern Powerhouse plays in the MedTech sector and I’m delighted 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 facility will benefit patients, as well as the local and national economy.”
Phil Wilson, Sedgefield MP, said: “I am delighted to see the launch of the National Healthcare Photonics Centre in Sedgefield, it demonstrates the diverse strengths the North East has to offer. The innovative work which will take place at the centre will not only bring quality jobs to the area but will hopefully one day improve the diagnosis and monitoring of many chronic diseases, helping people not just in this area but much further afield too.”
Alan Welby, North East LEP Innovation Director, said: “Fostering innovation is at the heart of the North East’s Strategic Economic Plan and this ground breaking facility, which benefited from £7.9m of Local Growth Fund investment will not only allow companies to undertake disruptive innovation in the field of healthcare but will also lead to the creation of more and better jobs for our region.”
GE Healthcare Science Director and external advisory board member, said: “I am very excited to participate in the opening of the National Centre for Healthcare Photonics. GE Healthcare has been involved with the capability from its start and I have been honoured to participate in the Advisory Board from its inception. A tremendous ‘thank you’ needs to be given to the entire staff of CPI and especially to Dr. Tom Harvey for his work in leading the effort to get us here today. As we look back upon this day in a few years, I believe that we will be pleased with the technologies and the businesses that we will have helped to give birth to and especially with the jobs that we created and the lives that will have benefited from the work that will take place here.”
The National Healthcare Photonics Centre was built by Newcastle-based Surgo Construction, with support from Durham City architect Howarth Litchfield.
The Government’s Local Growth Deal is supporting major capital investments to promote innovation, sustainable transport and economic and skills infrastructure as part of the North East Growth Deal.