Technology Minister Paul Scully has been at NETPark in Sedgefield to discuss its future plans for expansion and the development of a high-tech cluster in the North East.

Sedgefield MP Paul Howell and Deputy Leader of Durham County Council, Cllr Richard Bell, welcomed Mr Scully, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Technology and the Digital Economy, who said he would talk to colleagues at Westminister about linking a Government Investment Zone to NETPark.

He said: “The visit was really valuable as it helped further embed my understanding of the high-tech businesses in Sedgefield and the North East. I want to thank Paul Howell for encouraging me to visit and I now fully understood why.

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"Having visited Kromek, Filtronic, Pragmatic and CPI I have seen the tremendous businesses being developed and I was impressed by the commitment to the delivery by DCC of NETPark 3 and beyond. I heard the message of how important it was to link a Government Investment Zone to NETPark and I will share it with colleagues in Westminster.”

Paul Howell said: “As the local MP it is always so exciting to see the outstanding work being done here. We visited Filtronic, Kromek, the CPI and met representatives of Pragmatic who launched here and are continuing to expand from a nearby site near Durham, where the minister also visited. It is clear that there is a cluster of businesses developing here that are specialising around building more powerful integrated circuits than ever before.”

Cllr Richard Bell, said: “The Cluster that is developing here is underpinned by private sector expertise, a supportive local Council and Member of Parliament, the academic excellence of Durham University and plentiful land and space for growth. We discussed the 3rd stage of the site’s development, involving £61m of investment and ideas for moving forward with the site as a potential Government-backed Investment Zone.”

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Paul Howell added: “Above all, it is the clustering effect of highly trained, specialist people at this site that allowed NETPark to prosper since its opening in 2004 - and represents so much opportunity for the future. There are 700 people with high-quality jobs already working here already with the real prospect of a thousand more – because they are working so close to each other, there is space for them to cross-pollinate and share ideas.”