“There’s a real appetite for
business and genuine desire for
success here.”

Richard Kirk
Chief Executive Officer, PolyPhotonix

Originally from near Manchester, I’ve spent much of my life elsewhere. After travelling I lived in Paris for 8 years, followed by nearly 20 in central London. I first came to Durham when the National Centre for Printed Electronics was being created in NETPark, Sedgefield. I realised that I had the opportunity to set up a new business and be a pioneer in the new high-tech centre, avoiding getting swamped by the general ‘noise’ of Cambridge or London.


That was over 10 years ago. The early years were challenging but Business Durham’s enthusiasm and support was crucial to success. Importantly, Durham University is close by and accessible; a lot of our talent has come from the University. Now a few years have passed, there is a critical mass of people and skills in high tech industries, and many exciting similar companies.

NETPark has grown considerably; it’s a facility in a great location. It’s one of the UK’s best science parks and gives us access to multi-million pound assets and equipment that we would never normally get.


My own company, PolyPhotonix has developed a treatment for one of the most common causes of blindness, Diabetic Retinopathy. We are now working in Europe, the Middle East, South America and the U.S. As we become global, our ambition is to drive it all from County Durham.


My own experience here has been nothing but positive. My life living in London was wonderful – it is easily the best city in the world, but I absolutely love living in the North East. The quality of life is one of the best in the UK.


A range of strategic sites available with both established and bespoke options

5 universities across the region 


50% of students study STEM subjects the highest number of any UK region

66% of students are studying in their home region, the highest proportion in England, so it’s easier to recruit/retain staff


66% of students are studying in their home region, the highest proportion in England, so it’s easier to recruit/retain staff

11 colleges delivering academic and work-based learning opportunities with over 300 advanced manufacturing-related courses


 

“We have to constantly up-skill to meet the needs of industry in this fast-moving environment.”

Dawn Fairlamb
Vice-Principal of New College Durham

Dawn Fairlamb  Vice-Principal of New College Durham

Dawn Fairlamb Vice-Principal
of New College Durham

That’s the view of Dawn Fairlamb, Vice-Principal, New College Durham. “For us it’s always about having a career, not just a qualification. We offer every vocational course you can think of, apart from land based, and try to get work placements for all our students. The upcoming ‘Technical-Level’ qualification requires students to do an industry placement of between 45 and 60 days alongside their studies.


I’m passionate about making sure all our students have every opportunity, and we do that by working closely with employers. They tell us what they need, and we constantly invest in resources, so our students can see what businesses want and gain the required skills and knowledge. It’s a real partnership. So much so, we work with employers to design degree courses around their particular needs, giving students even better career prospects – as we’ve seen from our destination data of students
who progress into employment or
further study. 

We’re always looking at how best to prepare or up-skill people for the world of work, to make sure they contribute to their community as well as the economy. It’s a crucial part of what we do.”