Printable pressure sensor technology developed in the North East is set to be rolled out into a range of new markets with the help of a five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund.

HP1 Technologies develops sensor systems that measure and collect high quality impact and pressure data in a variety of situations, and can be made in a range of bespoke shapes and sizes.

The concept was originally developed for use inside cycling helmets as a way of capturing useful data relating to traumatic brain injuries, but as the Newton Aycliffe-based firm has carried out more research and development work, a range of other uses have become possible.

The HP1 Technologies management team has now worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure a £35,000 investment, which is being used to enhance the firm’s production capacity and enable it to go after more and bigger contracts.

A new Electrojet UV3D flatbed digital printer has been purchased as part of the firm’s development plans, which will see it targeting new clients in sectors including aerospace, sport, manufacturing, utilities and the military

Up to six new jobs are also expected to be created as the business puts its growth plans into action.

HP1 Technologies was founded in 2015 by brothers Mike and Andrew Howes, who are now CEO and chief operating officer respectively, and who both have extensive commercial and technological experience across a range of sectors.

Mike Howes says: “When head injuries from cycling accidents occur, there is currently a lack of data about the magnitude of force experienced by the head, the impact location and time of the impact.  This information is critical to help inform medical assessment, where speed is key.

“We created a versatile, low-cost device that could accurately capture this essential data and have since been able to adapt and apply this technology to a range of different applications in a growing number of industries.

“The feedback we’ve had from clients has been very positive and we know there is a huge amount of growth potential in the business that can be realised by scaling up our operations.

“Not only will the new equipment enable us to increase our production capacity, but it will also help us learn to better control and improve our processes and will mean the time we need to develop new products will be reduced by up to two thirds.

“Gaining access to locally-based growth capital also brings us into some very useful regional business networks and the NEL team made completing the application a very straightforward process.”

Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.

It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.

Mike Guellard, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “HP1 is at a very exciting time in its development and it’s great to see yet another innovative North East technology firm successfully applying its expertise to commercial situations.”

The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

For more information on NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.