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National recognition for Business Durham and NETPark on R&D

A new report from a national organisation shaping Government policy on research and development (R&D) has highlighted NETPark and Business Durham as an excellent example of local leadership.

The Power of Place report was published by the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) this week and is designed to feed into the Government’s ‘levelling up’ and R&D agenda.

The report examines how we can maximise the local economic impact of greater R&D across regions and nations and ensure the UK economy rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on an extensive consultation carried out over the last 18 months, the report makes conclusions and recommendations in three areas – building on excellence and developing brand, the importance of local leadership and supporting small businesses.

The Power of Place states that improving regional growth through R&D is critical to the UK economy and is likely to be more important than ever as the UK seeks to rebuild the economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using Office for National Statistics data, the report looked at research intensities of all UK regions. It states that the North East invests £707million in R&D or 115% of Growth Domestic Product (GDP), compared to the UK as whole (169%).

NETPark and Business Durham has been highlighted in The Power of Place as a strong example of local leadership bringing great benefits to the local economy.

Business Durham, the economic development arm of Durham County Council, manages NETPark, a leading science, engineering and technology park for the commercialisation of cutting-edge R&D from major international organisations, universities and entrepreneurs. Opened in 2004, NETPark hosts 32 innovative companies providing 450 skilled jobs in Sedgefield, County Durham.

The Power of Place hailed Business Durham as innovative in its approach to support and foster R&D at NETPark. CaSE said Business Durham was effective in increasing connectivity between a variety of agencies and in adopting initiatives to provide businesses with the tools they needed to succeed. This included support for the retention of skilled workers, matching businesses with talented individuals and creating a Venture Capital Fund for innovative businesses.

Local leadership is important in driving forward each region’s strategy and enabling the effects of R&D investment to directly benefit the local economy, according to the report.

Sarah Slaven, interim Managing Director at Business Durham, said: “It is fantastic to be recognised by CaSE in The Power of Place report. As a national organisation which is influencing Government policy and feeding into its levelling up R&D agenda, it’s great for NETPark to be showcased on the UK stage.

“We are proud to lead a strong partnership that is focused on supporting innovation across County Durham as R&D is critical to the future of the regional and UK economy, particularly in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Cllr Carl Marshall, Cabinet member for economic regeneration for Durham County Council, said: “It is great to see Business Durham and NETPark highlighted as strong examples of local leadership. We are already aware of the great benefits they are bringing to our local economy but this national recognition is very well deserved.

“We’re determined that County Durham’s economy will continue to grow and Business Durham and NETPark play an important part in that, particularly in terms of keeping skilled workers in our local areas and continuing to innovate. We look forward to building on this even further once we start to recover from the effects of COVID-19.”

NETPark Manager Janet Todd said: “We have some outstanding innovative companies here at NETPark, with fantastic research capacity and capability, and we’re delighted that our work has been highlighted as an example of best practice in the field of R&D.”

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