SCORES of highly-skilled technology jobs are staying in the North-East after a microelectronics firm reiterated its commitment to the region, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Filtronic says it is moving to Netpark, in Sedgefield, County Durham.

The move dispels any worries the mobile phone transmitter and chip maker could leave the area following US firm Compound Photonics' acquisition of the former RF Micro Devices (RFMD) factory in Newton Aycliffe.

Loading article content

Filtronic, which employs about 85 workers in the North-East and develops specialist components to link mobile phones to networks, operated its broadband business from the RFMD plant.

Mike Brennan, Filtronic's chief financial officer, said it was always keen to stay in the region.

He said: “We are very pleased to be making the move to Netpark, which has excellent facilities for us to continue our work.

“It is a rolling move and some of the team are already in the new base, with the rest moving over after certain production work has finished.

“Once that has been completed, we will transfer the remaining equipment and we should be fully in place in February.”

Last year, Filtronic's chief executive, Alan Needle, said it would look to move to a site to house its own staff if a buyer for the RFMD plant, which Filtronic sold to the US company for £12.5m in 2008, could not be found.

He said: “If we move it would be to a location in the immediate vicinity because the North-East remains an important part of our plans.

“We have spent a lot of money over the past two or three years at Aycliffe on developing a real market-leading technology, and got to the point where big players in the industry are showing great interest.”

In March last year, RFMD, which makes semi-conductors for mobile phones, said it was leaving Newton Aycliffe to take production back to Greensboro, North Carolina, after securing a deal with a manufacturer to supply 4G smartphone components.

The Aycliffe factory was the world's most advanced microchip factory when the Queen officially opened it as Fujistu's new base in 1991.

However, the Japanese firm closed the factory in 1998, axing about 600 jobs.