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PETeC Ground-Breaking Marks Start of North East Plastic Electronics Revolution

Cenamps, a national centre for emerging small-scale technologies, in partnership with the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for PETeC, a unique plastics electronics technology centre set to establish North East England as a global leader in the application of plastic electronics.

Today the first spade was inserted into the ground starting construction of the £10m project at NETPark, County Durham, where the new facility is to be based.

PETeC will be established as a national prototyping operation providing world-class facilities, services and expertise at the hub of a UK-wide network in plastic electronics. The state-of-the-art facilities will include high-tech clean rooms and laboratories, as well as production and testing equipment which will be available on an open access basis to meet the needs of industry.

Predicted to become a £30bn industry by 2015, the plastic electronics industry will be served by PETeC through addressing the needs of multinational companies exploring the plastic electronics market, as well as dynamic academic spin-outs and universities.

PETeC will offer space, resource and expertise for companies to research and develop new technologies and their applications, prototyping and pre-competitive stage mini-manufacturing of products based on plastic electronics. These will include smart packaging, real-time smart packaging, real-time newspapers, intelligent signage, point-of-care medical diagnostic devices, novel drug delivery devices, printed electronics for consumer products, flexible solar cells and solid state lighting.

The groundbreaking event was attended by Dr. Mike Pitkethly, CEO of Cenamps, Simon Ogier, an organic materials specialist from CPI who will be working on the development of PETeC, Kim Wong Emerging Technologies Manager at One NorthEast, and representatives from The Northern Way and County Durham Development Company (CDDC).

Mike Pitkethly commented: “This centre will provide a bridge between the lab and the factory to facilitate the commercialisation of new products. With ever-increasing competition from places such as India and China, it is crucial that the UK continues to offer the world class facilities for developing plastic electronic products, and PETeC will be integral to the UK’s competitiveness in this emerging group of technologies”.

Two of the funders of the project are One NorthEast and the Northern Way. Kim Wong, Emerging Technologies Manager at One North East said: “One North East is very proud to be a partner in PETeC and to see it working along side local and Regional Universities and industries, but also at a national level.  This illustrates the level of commitment the RDA places on innovation and the generation of new jobs, products and services resulting from emerging technologies.  We look forward to many exciting successes from PETec and a fruitful partnership.”

NETPark is the UK’s newest home for start-up businesses and leading edge science and R&D driven companies.  Building is due to be complete in May 2008.

Councillor Albert Nugent, Chairman of CDDC, said:  “Durham County Council and CDDC are committed to building a strong economy for the County and flourishing knowledge-driven companies have a vital role to play.

"The vision for NETPark from the outset has been to create the right conditions for innovative ideas to be turned into successful businesses.  It is already recognised as a high-profile, flagship development in the region, but securing a project as significant as PETeC will raise NETPark’s profile nationally and internationally.”

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