HFR NetPark aerial photo

HFR 1 Year at NETPark

In February 2019, HFR expanded its research capacity by opening a purpose-built facility situated at NETPark, Sedgefield.

During its first year, the NETPark site has evolved to include new staff members, new collaborations and further refurbishment. Initially equipped with ten fume hoods, a further two have been installed over the last year to extend HFR’s capacity and allow us to offer a segregated work space for specialised projects.

We have completed a total of 14 projects for academic and industrial partners from the UK, USA, China and South Korea, spanning numerous sectors including pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, organic electronics and consumer industries.

“Collaboration is a core value at HFR and we value partnerships accelerating fundamental academic research through to industrial commercialisation.”

Our successful EPSRC IAA-supported collaboration with Dr John Sanderson at Durham University throughout 2019, which sought to investigate the proof of concept for novel methodologies for lipid synthesis, has attracted the support of key industrial leaders in this sector and is currently exploring further funding opportunities to move the project into feasibility studies and commercialisation.

Our most recent collaboration, kicking off in February 2020, with Dr Stephen Butler and Dr Helen Wilcox at Loughborough University explores novel Hydrogels for implementation in Point of Use Diagnostics. We believe that our expertise in this area will accelerate the development of this exciting platform technology, and we envisage this being the beginning of a long-lasting relationship.

To further integrate with the wider scientific community and continue our goal of supporting the professional development of our team, Dr James Fleming attended a three-day training course entitled ‘Chemical Development & Scale-Up in the Fine Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industries’ in Amsterdam. James has utilised the knowledge he has gained from this course both inside and outside of the lab, most notably to deliver a lecture for students at Oxford University engaged in the Oxford Inorganic Chemistry for Future Manufacturing Centre for Doctoral Training (OxICFM CDT) programme. Delivered alongside other members of the HFR team, the one-day course discussed the role of a CRO in manufacture and detailed references to HFR’s expertise in practical aspects of chemical scale up and GMP manufacture. This is just the beginning of what is hoped will be a strong and fruitful eight-year collaboration.

In March 2019, Dr Caitlin Mooney completed a three-month RSC internship with High Force Research entitled ‘Chemical Linkers for Chemoselective Bioconjugation’ and she makes a fantastic permanent addition to our team.

In June 2019, Dr Hannah Sykes joined us, gradually increasing the number to 5 PhD level chemists at NETPark, with a depth and breadth of knowledge and experience across sectors. Since moving to NETPark, our team have become active members of the community with Neil and Caitlin presenting at both the Innovation Breakfast and NETPark Networking events. In September of 2019, we hosted our inaugural research symposium giving an opportunity for the five PhD students who we support to present their work. This event was well attended by our key academic contacts and we’re already looking forward to this year’s event!

So, what is in the future for HFR NETPark? HFR are continuously looking to expand knowledge and impact within the scientific community and welcome any queries from prospective academic or industrial collaborators.

Neil Sim, Head of Research, commented

“Our strategy is to continue to grow and invest in the R&D team at NETPark, with the capacity to double the amount of existing staff. As a team we’re excited to work in partnership with innovators, entrepreneurs or early-stage companies, utilising our expertise in chemical development in order to help translate fundamental research into commercial reality.”

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