A step closer to being world-class for innovation; Pride In Our Process Industry.
Making up more than half of the local economy, it employs thousands of staff and is currently enjoying a boom time with hundreds of millions of pounds of investments being pumped into new projects.
Teesside is also home to the National Skills Academy for the process industries which aims to plug the sector's skills gap and deliver up to 8,000 extra NVQ qualifications and train an extra 800-900 apprentices across the region.
But the region's ambition to become a world-class centre for innovation in the processing sector has been cemented further with the merger of two leading organisations.
The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) at Wilton and Newcastle's Centre of Excellence for Nano, Micro and Photonic Systems (Cenamps) have joined forces to drive industry-led development in the sector.
The new organisation - to be called CPI - has its HQ at Wilton.
Chief executive Nigel Perry believes the move will take the team's work to the next level.
"People have always been very impressed by the work we are doing here," he said, "but merging the two organisations give us critical mass.
"We can accelerate the pace of development and build on our track record of commercial and developmental success."
Together, the centres will champion four key technology areas - advanced processes, low carbon energy, functional materials and printable electronics.
As well as the Wilton HQ, CPI will have bases at Sedgefield's NetPark, Gateshead and Newcastle University.
Mr Perry added: "This is a highly positive move for North-east England in a sector where we already have a real international presence.
"Processing is moving forward at a great pace and only those organisations which continually innovate and evolve will keep up with the marketplace."
Processing has been the UK's fastest growing sector during the last ten years growing at an average rate of 2.6% per annum, and is now worth pounds 70bn to the national economy.
The North-east's contribution is 25% of this national total, with the sector representing 30% of the region's industrial base.
CPI has already been recognised as an example of best practice for its approach to market led-innovation in the recent White Paper 'Innovation Nation,' published by the Government last month.
Both CPI and Cenamps were set up by regional development agency One NorthEast four years ago.
In that time, the established process industry on Teesside and across the North-east has been revitalised, with the region now host to three national centres in plastic electronics, nanotechnology and biotechnology.
And CPI's work is already expanding.
Work is nearing completion at the NETPark site on a pounds 4.1m building for PETeC (Plastic Electronics Technology Centre), which will create an internationally recognised facility for the development and commercialisation of printed electronic devices and flexible functional materials, such as those going into the manufacture of future products, including 'fold-up' TVs.
The 3,500sqm site aim is to hothouse smaller companies wanting to break into the sector.
PETeC is a national prototyping operation to develop technology in plastic printable electronics and comes under the umbrella of CPI.
Eventually the project could create several hundred jobs.
It is aimed a being the ideal facility for start-up and small companies and larger manufacturers to get together to get prototype production up and running.
The facility will look at sustainable alternatives to current silicon conductors - such as seen in large-screen TVs - of which there is a growing shortage.
There are other materials to replace other products, including solid state lighting, which wastes a lot of energy.
It is hoped the main plant will be open by September.
The building has been designed by Stockton-based Dewjo'c architects and built by North-east construction company Whelan.
The lab-based development facility at NETPark will incorporate a third storey of office space.
And CPI has now just made a number of key appointments to the Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network team - based at Wilton - which is working on new ways to deliver real benefit for UK wealth creation in new and emerging technologies.
The Nanotechnology KTN is a national network which links and supports innovation through a combination of events, focus groups, information dissemination and technology brokerage.
The term nanotechnology applies to the manipulation of molecules or atoms. To give some idea of scale, a nanometer is a billionth of a metre - just 10 atoms across.
But working at such small scale can lead to new products, cost savings and environmental benefits.
Dr Alec Reader has been appointed director of the group, bringing 30 years' commercial experience to the team.
"The Nanotechnology KTN is an important part of the innovation process in the sector and has the potential to have a real impact on the fortunes of the UK economy," he said.
In addition three Nano-KTN theme managers have also been appointed. Keith Robson, James Johnstone and Martin Kemp will work with industry, academia and trade bodies to promote the successful exploitation and commercialisation of MNT in the UK.
Natasha Taylor has also been appointed as marketing manager for the KTN and will handle all marketing and events responsibilities for the network.
Chris Ferguson of Dewjo'c Architects, Kevin Drew of Whelan and Dave Wallace of Dewjo'c at the PETeC site; CPI chief executive Nigel Perry
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|Publication:||Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)|
|Date:||Apr 21, 2008|
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