A WORLD leader in the design and manufacture of ultra low cost, flexible electronics is to move into new premises to support its rapid growth and job creation.

PragmatIC, which manufactures integrated circuits which are thinner than a human hair, is expanding into the new purpose-built Explorer units at flagship County Durham science park NETPark (North East Technology Park).

PragmatIC’s products can be embedded in a vast range of applications, ranging from intelligent packaging to wireless document traceability for security and identification.  Ken Williamson, chief operating officer, said the anti-counterfeit market offered huge opportunities for growth with their technology offering brand protection.

“There’s a massive black market for counterfeit alcohol and cigarettes and it’s a multi-billion pound business,” he said. “Every single one of our circuits have unique IDs so the products can be easily identified. Our customer could be the brands themselves or the label makers. It can even make inventory easy for the supermarkets.

“Our products are thinner and their flexibility allow them to be embedded into products that have been off limits for traditional silicon. They’re so fine they can go into paper and card and it’s one tenth of the price to implement.”

PragmatIC’s new home in NETPark’s Explorer building, which is managed by Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham, will comprise 5,000 sq feet of ground floor lab and first floor office space and will allow the company vital manufacturing, servicing and warehouse space. The company currently employs 50 staff – 25 of which are in the North East – and are looking to recruit another 20 staff with the majority of the new jobs being at NETPark.

“We’re growing rapidly and we needed our own space as the business progresses,” said Ken.  “The new Explorer building really is an ideal place for us. We initially came because of printable electronics centre but the access to a highly skilled semi conductor workforce in the North East has been a key factor in us staying and growing here as well as the value for money office space and the access to funding.

“Our focus now will be on producing three or four specific products working in conjunction with a couple of label manufacturers which will be ready for launch some time next year after our new production line is installed next Spring.”

The firm, which spun out of Manchester University in 2010 and has its HQ in Cambridge, is looking to break even by early 2019.

Brian Archer, managing director of Business Durham, which works on behalf of Durham County Council, said: “There are no limits to the use of PragmatIC’s innovative technology and their new space in the Explorer building will allow them to take their business to the next level with the support of its highly skilled team in the North East.”

Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming such an innovative and exciting company to County Durham, and in particular to the fantastic new facilities at NETPark.

“We are striving to make Durham a vibrant place to live, work, invest, study and visit, and this is just another small step towards that goal.

“We hope the arrival of Pragmatic will show what a uniquely innovative and supportive atmosphere we’re cultivating for investors.”

NETPark’s Explorer buildings received a £3.2m grant from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) through its Local Growth Deal.  Helen Golightly, Executive Director at the North East LEP, said: “This is further good news for NETPark which through the new Explorer project is now able to offer high quality move on accommodation for some of the North East’s most innovative businesses. We wish PragmatIC every success in their new premises.”

The construction of NETPark’s Explorer building forms part of ambitious plans to create additional space for research and development companies which need room to prototype and scale up to manufacture on site. NETPark is already home to some of the world’s most innovative companies and the development forms part of the 10-year strategy for NETPark, which includes creating 3,000 jobs and adding another £400m to the region’s GVA.