US firm Compound Photonics has acquired the former RFMD facility at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

As well as saving the high tech factory and the jobs of staff still employed there, it is predicted that the investment by the cutting edge technology company will create even more jobs with 200 expected to be employed on the site in the future, Business Durham said. 

However, The Northern Echo understands that more than 100 RFMD Aycliffe staff have already lost their jobs or face redundancy. 

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Compound Photonics’ acquisition of the former Fujitsu facility in Newton Aycliffe adds to its operations based in London and the US.

It is building the world’s smallest high definition 1080p and ultra high definition 4K projection light engines for mobile devices, projectors and automotive heads up displays. 

Jonathan A Sachs PhD, president and chief executive of Compound Photonics, said: “The availability of the facility at Newton Aycliffe is a fantastic opportunity for Compound Photonics. The facility, the equipment and the highly-skilled workforce will enable us to significantly expand our manufacturing capacity to meet the demand of global markets for a new generation of projection products."

In March this year, RFMD announced its intention to take manufacture back to its American headquarters, leading to the closure of the Aycliffe facility with the loss of all jobs.

Since then, Business Durham has been working with interested parties to save the factory and safeguard jobs.  

Dr Simon Goon, managing director of Business Durham, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that Compound Photonics has chosen to locate here. The factory has a long history of technology-led manufacturing and we are thrilled that the news that it is now likely to become the largest manufacturer of laser diodes in the world, employing a team of specialist scientists, engineers and technicians. It is a glowing testimonial that County Durham is a great place for technology companies.”

Hot on the heels of the announcement by Hitachi Rail Europe to locate its European manufacturing headquarters in Newton Aycliffe, Compound Photonics is yet another major investor in County Durham.

Councillor Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “Its excellent news that the factory and the livelihoods of those that work there have been saved.

"That the investment will result in 200 local jobs is brilliant news for Newton Aycliffe and County Durham as a whole. The council has made substantial efforts to support the development of a high tech, advanced manufacturing economy in the county, such as the establishment of the North East Technology Park in Sedgefield. It’s very pleasing that Compound Photonics has joined Hitachi in recognising that County Durham is the ideal location for cutting edge technology companies."

Dr Sachs continued, “The high level skills of the workforce, the growing electronics cluster and the quality of the research in Durham University in our area of technology were major reasons behind our decision to locate here.

"And the local support is incredible; throughout the negotiations with RFMD, the Business Durham team has been incredibly supportive – I do not think we would have made this deal without their help and assistance.  It has become clear to everyone at Compound Photonics that County Durham is a great place to do business and we are looking forward to a successful future in the County.”