Facility pioneers non-invasive photonics technology

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Photonics has been called one of the fastest developing areas in healthcare. It is the use of light to diagnose and treat medical conditions with non-invasive, cost-efficient methods from wound, skin and cancer treatment to use in the fields of neurology and ophthalmology.

Academic groups around the UK are conducting research into photonics and now this research can be centralised in the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) facility in County Durham. The facility was announced in 2016 and is now close to completion, it is due to open in December 2018.

The centre is being developed with an £8m grant from the government’s Local Growth Deal, through the North-East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). When operational, it will provide space for companies to manufacture small or prototype quantities of medical devices to meet medical standards, as well as testing areas and equipment and additive printing machines to prepare and test prototypes for pre-clinical assessment stage or an initial clinical trial.

Acting as a business hub, the centre, based at NETPark in Sedgefield will help develop next-generation light-based treatments, and will work on methods to diagnose disease and develop imaging systems, including endoscopy, and light-based treatments.

Dr Tom Harvey, CPI Healthcare Photonics Lead, said: “Bringing together photonics experts, equipment and facilities in this new centre will enable companies to develop the latest cutting-edge medtech products. This will benefit patients, as well as the local and national economy.”

For Alan Welby, Innovation Director at the North-East LEP: “The North-East’s National Centres of Excellence are critical to giving the region a global competitive edge and this facility, which will lead the way in light-based therapies, gives us another strong point of differentiation.”

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