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Durham University News

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Queen’s Award for Durham University academic

(21 April 2012)

Prof Brian Tanner

A Durham University academic has been awarded The Queen's Award For Enterprise Promotion, the UK's highest accolade for business success, for his work in promoting enterprise and business in the North East.

The award to Professor Brian Tanner, Professor of Physics & Dean of Knowledge Transfer at Durham University, recognises his involvement in enterprise promotion over 30 years, nationally and internationally.

Professor Tanner led the development of an enterprise culture at Durham which has been adopted by other Universities and has had a substantial impact on technology transfer and the development of spin-out companies and businesses, many of them with local bases, for example Durham's rapidly growing science park, the North East Technology Park (NETPark).

Examples of Durham University spin-out companies include Kromek Ltd, a company of which Professor Tanner is a Director, commercialising semiconductor materials into security screening, medical imaging and industrial inspection applications. The company is valued at about £70 million and employs over 50 staff at its headquarters at NETPark in Sedgefield, County Durham.

Other success stories include Reinnervate, a biotechnology company specialising in enabling technologies for use in cell growth and function, and Surface Innovations Ltd, a company designing functional nanocoatings for surface properties.

Professor Tanner was the first Director of the North East Centre for Science Enterprise and jointly developed the ‘Blueprint' competition, which has created over 200 businesses with an important role in shaping the knowledge economy.

He continues to be influential in the ongoing development of NETPark which is managed by Business Durham on behalf of Durham County Council. Professor Tanner was instrumental in creating the Business Innovation Gateway which integrates the innovation support provided by Business Durham, Durham University and the Centre for Process Innovation into a seamless process, making it easier for businesses to access.

As Dean of Knowledge Transfer at Durham University, Professor Tanner has strategic responsibility across the University for Enterprise, Business Relations, and Technology & Knowledge Transfer. His work with spin-out companies goes back to 1978 when he co-founded Bede Scientific Instruments Ltd, based in Belmont, Durham, and since 2008 owned by Jordan Valley Semiconductors.

Professor Brian Tanner said: "We have developed a culture at Durham University which encompasses enterprise. It has led to successful spin-out companies, licensing and major strategic partnerships with industry. Commercialisation of research results is seen as a proper part of academic work. I'm very proud of this for many reasons, not least in the creation of new jobs founded on the University's knowledge base.

"I am also proud to be associated with the Blueprint competition and student entrepreneurs. Graduates are increasingly seeing self-employment as a realistic option and we have household names amongst our successful alumni entrepreneurs."

Professor Chris Higgins, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said: "Durham is a world top-100 university with research at its core. We are delighted to be creating and supporting new entrepreneurs who are setting up successful businesses and spin-out companies based upon innovative research ideas developed at Durham."

Professor Tanner is one of 11 recipients of The Queen's Award for Enterprise Promotion (QAEP) this year and one of two winners from the North East.
Durham University's strengths in research and development have also led to a partnership with Procter & Gamble who named Durham as "best in class" academic partner at an international awards ceremony in 2011. The award follows the signing of a Master Collaboration Agreement with P&G which establishes Durham University as a core strategic research partner to this multinational corporation.

Professor Tanner's Queen's Award follows further international recognition for Durham University in December 2011 when Professor Mike Bentley was awarded the Polar Medal by the Queen.

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