A PIONEERING chemical and research development company, whose work is contributing to medical discoveries across the world, has invested £500,000 in expanding into new premises at the NETPark science and technology park in Sedgefield.

High Force Research, which supports new product development in the fine chemicals, pharmaceutical, diagnostics and printed electronics industries, is opening a second research laboratory and offices at the North East Technology Park as it looks to increase its employees from 34 to 40.

The company was set up 30 years ago by three research chemists and has its main site at Bowburn North Industrial Estate, near Durham. It is a chemical development partner for some of the world’s most innovative companies and is involved in many R&D projects, including scaling up processes to supply APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) made to cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practice) standards for early clinical trials.

Roy Valentine,chief executive, said: "Chemistry has many applications in different business areas. It’s a worldwide industry and 60pc of our business is abroad. Our work is not just purely pharmaceutical or biochemical as chemistry is a core platform technology for a lot of industries, such as advanced materials used in printable electronics and diagnostic reagents, which all need materials manufactured to high quality standards.

“NETPark is a prestigious science park and ticks a lot of boxes for us. We wanted to expand somewhere close to Bowburn and when we saw the units available we thought it would work very well for both lab and office space. There is also the opportunity to expand further as required.”

Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “High Force is a great example of a company, which started in County Durham, showing ambition and expanding their valuable North East workforce. Expansions like this prove we have the resources and tools available in the county to help support growing businesses.”

Janet Todd, Business Durham’s manager at NETPark, said: “High Force is a company whose skills and expertise are at the forefront of vital medical research. The company is yet another example of the global talent we have in the North East.”

High Force supports a number of PhD students in local universities which has resulted in the successful launch of a spin out company, Lightox Ltd, by Durham University academics which is based on research supported by High Force over the last 10 years.

It has developed a range of novel fluorescent small molecules that can be used for biological imaging applications and also in photodynamic therapy that can be used for killing both cancer cells and antibiotic resistant bacteria. It was recently awarded the Bionow Start up company of the year award.