A TECH firm’s deal to thwart terror attacks is just the tip of the iceberg as it closes in on international contracts, its boss has said.
Kromek says an agreement to supply the US defence department with radiation detectors will be followed by further deals to combat radicalism around the world.
Chief executive Dr Arnab Basu made the bold prediction after hailing a transformative year for Sedgefield-based Kromek.
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According to results for the year to April 30, the scanner business saw product sales make up more than half of total revenues for the first time, while a bumper contract haul of more than $30m (£23m) represented the largest value of deals Kromek has ever secured in a 12-month period.
Intrinsic to the company’s growth was a near £5m agreement with DARPA, an agency of the US Department of Defense, to become the sole supplier of personal radiation detectors that help identify acts of terrorism, such as a “dirty bomb”.
Dr Basu said the contract, under which Kromek will supply detectors and 12,000 charging packs, represents the first step in its goal to oversee global security.
He told The Northern Echo: “It is a great thing a company in the North-East, employing just over 100 people, has been chosen by the US to supply this technology for dirty bombs; it is a great achievement.
“3,500 units of the radiation detectors have already been shipped to DARPA, with the remainder of the contract to be delivered before the end of the year.
“Once the system has been chosen and approved, it goes to agencies, such as the US Department of Homeland Security, who then deploy them. That is going on and we are in discussions with the US and other countries who are looking at these systems.
“We are very excited about the next phase.
“The 12,000 is just the tip of the iceberg.
“We would expect to supply hundreds of thousands over the next few years.
“People are concerned and governments and agencies are looking to bolster security and get systems to help that.
“We have got the DARPA stamp and it is going into commercial deployment; it’s all very positive.”
Dr Basu said Kromek, which is based at NetPark and started as a two-man business at Durham University’s physics department in 2003, is also close to making its first profit.
Although its latest results showed losses from continuing operations of £2.15m, Dr Basu said that was partially due to a £3.2m investment on research and development.
He also pointed to improved underlying revenues of £8.3m, revealing product sales accounted for 65 per cent of total revenues.
Dr Basu said: “What we are doing is not because of one event; DARPA have been planning this for a number of years and this is now the fruition.
“The company is moving away from development and into the next level of sales, which will drive growth.
“$30m worth of contracts is very significant; we stand in the strongest position we have ever been.
“We have better visibility of revenues than we have ever had, our technology is more ready than we have ever had it, and the adoption is already happening.
“This has been a year of transformation.
“We are not ashamed to spend money to accelerate the company and made a conscious decision to increase amounts on research and development.
“That is going to give us growth.”
Kromek is best known for pioneering an airport scanner that can identify liquids in bottles, including explosives, alcohol and narcotics, without opening them, in less than 20 seconds.
It also previously secured a deal to supply detectors for treatment of brittle bones, with bosses saying its indicators allow doctors to diagnose bones’ strength and health more clearly.