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

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

The company'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.

He said: "There’s a massive black market for counterfeit alcohol and cigarettes and it’s a multi-billion pound business. Every single one of our circuits has a unique ID 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, which is managed by Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham, will comprise 5,000sq ft 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.

Mr Williamson said: "We’re growing rapidly and we needed our own space as the business progresses. 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, 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 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.

It is already home to some of the world’s most innovative companies and the development forms part of its ten-year strategy, which includes creating 3,000 jobs and adding another £400m to the region’s GVA.