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Posted: April 22, 2008

Merger Will Set UK Centre for Process Innovation on the International Stage

(Nanowerk News) A Chief executive has outlined his plans to turn the North-East into a world class centre for technological innovation in the processing industry.
Nigel Perry has overseen the merger of the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), based in Wilton, near Redcar, east Cleveland, with the Centre of Excellence for Nano, Micro and Photonic Systems (Cenamps), based in Newcastle.
The merged company, which will operate under the CPI banner, will concentrate on four key areas; advanced processes, low-carbon energy, functional materials and printable electronics.
Both companies, established by development agency One NorthEast four years ago, worked to connect academics and scientists developing ideas, with the processing industry.
With the merger, Mr Perry hopes to build on the work that has been done regionally and take it onto a national and international stage.
He said: "This really is exciting - the challenge is to keep us focused and keep our eye on the things we know we are going to be good at.
"If you become successful, you are usually asked to do more things and there is a danger you lose focus on what made you successful, so we are focusing on the four technologies.
"We have the capabilities of the two teams and it is an exciting challenge, to become more involved nationally and in Europe and attract more private sector investment, not just be regional."
With the two companies being broadly similar, although the CPI had closer ties with industry and Cenamps was more closely tied to the region's universities, Mr Perry believed the merger would make things less confusing for those wanting to use their services.
He said: "CPI has been looking after the innovation in the processing pool and Cenamps has been looking after emerging technologies so, by pulling them together, we have created a more capable vehicle, with bigger capacity and larger resources.
"It has also made the landscape a little less confusing for people.
"We are trying to create a national centre that is recognised internationally and the North-East to be recognised internationally as a place to innovate in the process industry. We are now at the scale where we want to attract more private sector interest.
"By combining CPI and Cenamps, we should have a much better ability to provide innovative processes and ideas to industry.
"The private sector has choices so if you want to lock more innovation into the North-East, you have to be equal to or better than the rest of the world."
Mr Perry believed the local links they had with the processing industries, on Teesside for example, helped give them an advantage.
He said: "It gives us a lot of credibility and it gives us access to the consumers and skill sets that are here and also what they need."
Mr Perry pointed out that CPI's role was not to dictate to university researchers what they should be doing.
He said: "The North-East universities have worked very well with industry.
We are not trying to interfere, we are trying to accompany that.
"We can work with universities wherever they are so we can find the best from everywhere, including the North-East, to help these companies.
"We are not a jack-of-all-trades - we are hoping to become a master of a few.
When working with industry, we use our knowledge of the industry to network so we know which companies are active in the technology areas we are working in.
"They know us so they appreciate what we are trying to do.
"We have very good links in the region's universities. We sponsor a professor at Newcastle and have good relationships with Durham, Teesside, Northumbria and Sunderland, and they also know Cenamps in terms of what is going on.
"As for the universities themselves, they know what is happening in their areas, they network and they know who we need to talk to, in Bristol or Cambridge, for example."
Source: The Northern Echo (Owen McAteer)
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