University gives go-ahead to move of research centres to Sedgefield
(9 April 2003)
The University of Durham has given the official go-ahead to locate two of its high-profile research areas at the NetPark science and technology complex in Sedgefield. The University’s Centre for Advanced Instrumentation and Centre in Digital Enterprise Technologies (DET) will form the NetPark Institute.
Durham University is committed to playing an integral role in knowledge-transfer in the region and close collaboration between science and industry. The move to the NetPark Institute underlines this commitment and will build on this by bringing learning, research and product development closer together.
NetPark will feature university research, spin-out businesses and high tech companies with on-site expertise and support for knowledge-based business. The complex will act as a key piece of the region’s economic network and is presented within the revised Regional Economic Strategy as one of only ten regional strategic employment sites.
Professor John Anstee, Pro Vice Chancellor and Sub-Warden of the University of Durham and a member of the NetPark Steering Group, said: “We are delighted to initiate this exciting and innovative development which offers the opportunity to engage more extensively with business across the whole region. We are looking forward to the continuation of our close partnership with Durham County Council, County Durham Development Company, Sedgefield District Council and ONE NorthEast in supporting the region’s ambitions to expand its knowledge-based economy.”
The Advanced Instrumentation Centre, headed up by Professor Ray Sharples, will work with observatories around the world to improve the quality of astronomical imaging and observation. It will help to construct, commission and exploit novel instruments for optical and infrared astronomy using state of the art technology and has already built and commissioned more than ten new instruments for the UK's largest telescopes in the Canary Islands, Australia and Hawaii.
The Digital Enterprise Technology Centre harnesses latest developments in computer modelling, graphics and information management to give industry important new insights into product development, risk reduction and improved responsiveness to customers. One of its activities, the innovative Agility programme, has been running for more than two years and has helped many manufacturing companies to adapt quickly and profitably to rapidly changing market conditions.
Work will start on the construction of The NetPark Institute at the end of April this year, with completion scheduled for February 2004.
As a principal partner in the development of NetPark, Durham County Council has led the way with the development of The NetPark Institute by providing the building for occupation by the University of Durham.
Councillor Ken Manton, Leader of Durham County Council, welcoming the decisions, said: “After what to some may have seemed a long gestation, these two decisions signal the start of a new phase in the re-shaping of the County’s economy and I’m delighted that the County Council has been able to invest at the level necessary to bring NetPark to life.
“For too long now the County has been dependent on branch-plant manufacturing as the mainstay of its business economy. But we must look to the future and for County Durham the future lies in building our own economy founded on the technologies of the 21st century. NetPark will be the catalyst for this change, and now our plans and aspirations are finally to become reality.”
Commenting on the investment by the County Council and relocation by the University, Richard Prisk, Regeneration Manager for Sedgefield Borough Council continued: “This represents a major step forward for the Borough’s future economy. We will be placing NetPark at the heart of our economic strategy and working hard to ensure that local people and businesses can benefit from the opportunity presented by this exciting new venture based on the application of new technologies.”
Councillor Manton concluded: “As well as Sedgefield, and especially its young people, being able to enjoy the benefits which NetPark will ultimately create, we fully intend that it will also bring some very broad-ranging benefits to the whole of County Durham.”
Plans for the NetPark Institute were warmly welcomed by DTI Minister Nigel Griffiths on a visit to the University, when he said:
“The UK has some of the most innovative entrepreneurs and some of the most talented scientists in the world, however, we have not always exploited the collaboration between business and science to its full potential. I am delighted to see that Durham University is playing a key role in developing links between science and industry which is fantastic news not just for the North East but for the UK economy as a whole.”
Notes to Editors
- Durham University is one of the UK's top 12 research universities with two campuses in the city of Durham and in Queen’s Campus, Stockton-on-Tees
- The University each year generates over 3000 high quality graduates in a broad range of disciplines of direct relevance to potential employers including business, finance, engineering, physical sciences, biological and biomedical sciences and law.
- Some 85% of the University’s academic staff were recognised in the latest national research assessment exercise (2001) for conducting research of national or international standing.