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North East businesses explore access to finance

18 October 2013

Physics-based business leaders gathered at NETPark in Sedgefield to discuss access to finance at a forum organised by the Institute of Physics (IOP) and Business Durham on Wednesday 16 October.

Discussing the funding options available to science-based companies in the region, Professor Brian Tanner, Dean for University Enterprise at Durham University chaired a panel comprising Dr James Johnstone, Metrology Theme Manager at the Nanotechnology KTN, Dr Richard Exley, Head of Proof of Concept Funds at Northstar Ventures, David Lussey, Chief Technology Officer at Peratech, Tom Smyth, Deputy Head of BIS Yorkshire, Humber & North East and Stephen Lightley, Chief Operating Officer at North East Access to Finance.

Professor Brian Tanner said, “It was a delight to be able to chair the Access to Finance event at NETPark.

“Access to early stage finance is critical to the development of science and technology based businesses and the North East is extremely fortunate to have a number of funds and programmes which can deliver such support. The meeting provided information on them and their access mechanisms, as well as personal accounts of the challenges of building a technology business.”

The event covered topics including the sources of public finance support available for new business creation and innovation, new sources of public funding for science and whether venture capitalists are a suitable choice for science-based businesses. Attendees also heard about the funding experience of Peratech, a successful high-tech business based in Richmond, and were given a demonstration of the services provided by the North East Access to Finance digital guide.

IOP runs a series of business forum meetings for physics-based businesses across the UK and Ireland to share best practice and expertise across the range of topics affecting high-tech companies.

As Alex Connor, Business and Innovation Policy Manager for IOP, explains, “For those businesses on the journey from original idea to innovation, success and growth, these forum meetings provide an opportunity to hear from those who have gone before them, and those with experience of high-growth science companies.”

IOP research has shown that 8.5% of the total UK economic output is due to physics‑based businesses and that, for the North East, 43 000 jobs have been created by businesses currently thriving in the region.

To find out more about the importance of physics-based-businesses to the UK economy, see our latest reports -

Business Durham provides dynamic and proactive support to the business community in County Durham, and is the business gateway to Durham County Council. For more information, see their website -

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