15 Sep 2006   |   Network Updates

£10M centre for plastics electronics set for Durham

A £10 million project to create a major centre for plastics electronics development in the northeast of England was cleared by UK and EU authorities.

The Plastic Electronics Technology Centre will get under way next year in NETPark, an incubator and technology park in Sedgfield, near Durham, England. The centre will provide clean rooms, prototyping facilities and labs to develop what's expected to become a new segment of the world electronics industry: producing flexible electronic displays, printed on plastic sheets. Much of the key research behind this fledgling industry, which has already produced several start-ups including Cambridge Display Technologies, was performed in British labs.

First phase of the project entails construction of a 3,000 square metre facility at NETPark, to be equipped with so-called class 10 and 100 clean rooms. A staff of 10 wil operate the facility, and a business development team will be formed. It will be managed by Cenamps, a national centre for nano-technologies. Also involved are the Cente for Process Industries in the Tees Valley, an industrial research park; and researchers at the universities of Durham and Newcastle.

Of the £10 million in project funding, £6.2 million is to come from One NorthEast, the regional development authority; and the Country Durham Economic Partnership. European Union regional-development funds make up the balance. A further £2.1 million will come from the British Department of Trade and Industry for the first technology "platform" installation.

The Durham and Newcastle regions have been a focus of technological development in Britain lately – based partly around the universities in those cities, and the large number of multinational electronics and chemical companies that have set up production and research facilities there.  Sedgefield, NETPark's base, is also in the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

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