MANY of the greatest innovations stem from the cross-section of sectors. Today, an abbreviation of almost any market can be attached to the word "tech" to create an entirely new sub sector: HealthTech, FinTech, EdTech, SpaceTech, MedTech, and so on.

These crossovers have the potential to entirely reimagine day-to-day life.

Organisations like Business Durham, NETPark, the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) and the multiple Innovate UK Catapult network in the region, as well as top-tier universities, have collectively created a high-value ecosystem that nurtures business growth for the national and international stage.

As a result of existing high-value ecosystem top-tier universities, many companies operating at the cutting edge or fringe of their sector, who are sure to see growth on national and international stages, are emerging from or moving to the North-East.

With this in mind, BUSINESSiQ has put together a list of five companies based in the region that it believes will significantly and meaningfully impact everyone’s daily lives.


Kromek Group, a spin-out of Durham University, develops radiation detection technologies and sells them across the global medical, security and nuclear industries – meaning better and faster diagnosis of both cancers and explosives.

It does this by using the chemical compound Cadmium zinc telluride (CZT), a unique semiconductor that converts x-ray or gamma photons into electrons and holes at room temperature, and is just one of four companies in the world that manufactures with the compound.

The company reported a particularly good year in 2019, with a record-breaking revenue first six months. This momentum and consequent contract wins allowed for operational growth in the US and global distribution, though still headquartered in County Durham.

In the same year, it was also awarded a grant from Innovate UK to collaborate with DTU Space at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and develop a new detector for breast cancer diagnosis.

As well as being lighter and more portable, Dr Arnab Basu, CEO of Kromek, previously said the new detectors should be more energy efficient and thus cost effective for hospitals, while reducing the required dose of radiation for imaging.


About 50 billion tons of angular sand, a finite material that is running out, is used for construction each year, while 78 per cent of 335 million tons of plastic produced in the same time scale is not recycled.

Plastech Innovation is an award-winning start-up led by three scientists, in a joint venture with Durham University, dedicated to "putting yesterday's plastic into today's technologies" by developing technologies to transforms consumer and industry waste into construction materials.

Building materials, such as concrete, can be partially replaced with Plastech’s plastic aggregate, which will be more affordable that comparable aggregates and more eco-friendly due to weight transport emissions.

Though currently in the proof of concept stage, Plastech has goals to disrupt different markets through the identification of waste, one industry at a time, where they will create innovation and environmentally friendly solutions.

Graphene Composites

Graphene Composites is rethinking technology in three main product areas, amour, aerospace and renewable energy using nano materials.

The Sedgefield firm’s materials are "among the strongest, lightest and more resilient materials ever created", due to being created with likewise materials.

The company previously hit headlines after developing a bulletproof shield that could be folded away into a backpack or connected to other shields, to protect school children from gun violence.

In its renewable energy arm, its GC Power technology sees a cable, held up by weather balloons, entirely reimagine how renewables are harvested. The cable offers energy, including electricity from lightning bolts, a seamless journey to land where it is then fed into the Powergrid.

Chapter 6

Photographer-turned-SpaceTech entrepreneur Michael Potts is building cutting-edge photography equipment capable of taking ultra-high-resolution photos that are “far superior” to what exists or is currently in use today, which can track things like deforestation from space.

Chapter 6 was previously part of Business Durham’s Space Incubation Programme, in partnership with the UK Space Agency. During this time, Mr Potts was guided by others in the space sector, allowing him to make significant progress with Chapter 6’s products.

His cameras, which are currently being used in space exploration, environmental monitoring, public safety, advertising, and wildlife protection, must survive the most testing and isolated environments with as little maintenance but high reliability as possible.


Kunasan was founded by Paul Mawson in the United States, but the Northerner returned home after being encouraged by the UK Government’s Global Entrepreneur Programme.

He and clinical advisor Dr Roger Billica, formerly chief of medical operation at NASA, have developed a sleep technology to improve quality of sleep, which also means quality of life, as sleep deprivation is often associated with bad overall health and an increased chance of serious medical conditions.

Kunasan’s product, Frequen-ZZZ, balances energy through inaudible electromagnetic sleep frequencies to stimulate the brain and create continuous, deep sleep.

While this technology does currently exist, Kanasan democratises it through a bedsheet. Imagine a world with only a good night’s sleep.