Exports and sales up at Sci-Tech Daresbury

A survey of 82 companies based at the Cheshire site has revealed they delivered £92.4m in sales during 2015 – a rise of 25% on the previous year.

A total of 21 companies on campus now have sales of over £1m per year from operations based out of Sci-Tech Daresbury, with six of these having sales greater than £5m per year.

Seven out of 10 businesses (70%) surveyed were trading overseas and export sales from Sci-Tech Daresbury companies grew from 37% to 41% of total sales, equivalent to £37.9m of sales.

Companies also created a net increase of 87 FTE jobs in 2015. Eight companies are now employing higher level apprentices.

Sci-Tech Daresbury is a private-public joint-venture partnership between developer Langtree, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and Halton Borough Council. The site, which has Enterprise Zone status, is home to businesses and globally significant science facilities.

John Downes, Chief Executive of Langtree and Chairman of the Sci-Tech Daresbury joint venture company, said the figures were an encouraging indicator of the continued success of the site.

Mr Downes added:

“These figures come at an important time for the campus as we bring forward our new Techspace developments which will see a further 350 jobs created over the coming year.

“They also highlight the important role Sci-Tech Daresbury plays in creating the right conditions for science and innovation-based SMEs to achieve their growth ambitions.”

Practical completion of Techspace Two, a two-storey, self-contained building comprising 10,000 sq ft of modern, flexible office space and best-in-class laboratories, is due to take place soon.

Work is also progressing on a larger sister building, Techspace One, which is a three-storey structure with 46,000 sq ft of modern office space along with wet and dry laboratory facilities, each on its own floor. Techspace One is due to finish in the Autumn 2016.

The completion of both buildings will see a further 350 jobs created at the campus, which is one of the UK’s leading centres for science and technology businesses.

Together the two buildings are part of a £20m investment into the Enterprise Zone, including development of new public realm and campus infrastructure. The project was supported by the ERDF programme 2007-2013.

Mr Downes said the latest survey figures provided further encouragement for the year ahead, with some 72% of companies forecasting therecruitment of a further potential 186 people during the course of this year.

He added: “We have now seen an average annual 30% sales growth over the past five years, which is a significant achievement.”

Case study – Optis

Since moving to Sci-Tech Daresbury in 2011, Optis Northern Europe has increased staff numbers, overseen new business acquisitions and increased its multi-million-pound turnover. Its Sci-Tech Daresbury base is one of eleven different locations across three continents and the hub of operations in the United Kingdom.

Optis is a world-leading software editor in optical and lighting simulation in a Virtual Reality (VR) environment. It allows designers, ergonomists and engineers to test, evaluate and optimise lighting performance.

The Sci-Tech Daresbury location provides Optis with facilities that are critical for growing its business, including access to the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Hartree Centre, which offers collaborative research, innovation and development services that accelerate the application of high performance computing (HPC), big data analytics and cognitive computing technologies.

Optis has also benefitted from the partnership opportunities available at Sci-Tech Daresbury and the collaborations with other organisations, sharing knowledge and expertise.

 The campus location also provides Optis with full flexibility on facilities and leases giving them the opportunity to scale their model quickly.

Andy Reilly, countries manager at Optis Northern Europe, said: “With state of the art technology at our fingertips, we have been able grow year on year since moving to Sci-The Daresbury. The facilities for businesses to use at the Hartree Centre and VEC are unrivalled.

“Our growth has led to our business expanding at a rapid rate. In 2014, we acquired Icona Solutions, a software developer for improving the perceived quality of vehicles. It shows our commitment to growing this Sci-Tech Daresbury site and making it a focal point for our European strategy.”

First-ever MIA Prestige Award goes to Perceptive Engineering


Introduced to mark the 21st anniversary of the awards, the Prestige Award looks to recognise businesses with a turnover of £1m-£25m who are investing in innovation and employment in the Liverpool City Region, on a larger scale than the main award contenders.

The first company chosen to receive this award was Daresbury-based Perceptive Engineering.

The company delivers Advanced Process Control (APC) solutions to industry, using innovative combinations of Multi-Variate Statistical Process Monitoring and Model Predictive Control.

Perceptive uses big data and sophisticated modeling to ensure industrial processes – from pharmaceutical manufacturing to waste water treatment – not only work at their optimum level now, but can predict the impact of changes on future operation, then react to ensure the plants remain at their optimum operating point.

In wastewater treatment, this results in energy savings of up to 35%, while still meeting or exceeding environmental quality targets.

Perceptive’s annual turnover is currently around £1.7m and it employs 22 people at Daresbury.

Receiving the award on behalf of the firm, principal engineer Matthew McEwan said: “We are incredibly proud to be the first recipients of this award.

“To have started as a university spin-out in 2003, to be here now, receiving this award and working with local universities to provide opportunities for graduate engineers in this region is fantastic.

“We have an incredible talented team of engineers from all over the world and we could be based anywhere, but we chose to be based here because the North West and the Liverpool City Region is a great place for innovation and industry.”

Brian McCann, MIA founder and partner and director of MC Vanguard Corporate Finance said: “Introducing the Prestige Award gave us an opportunity to recognise those firms locally that have gone beyond start-up and phase one and who are now making a significant contribution to the regional economy through investment and job creation.

“Perceptive Engineering is a great example of a business that is not just innovating, but continues to grow and create solutions.

“The Prestige Award highlights to the main award winners that this is not the end of their journey, but the beginning. The more businesses we have that grow from start-up to more than £1m turnover the better for the Liverpool City Region economy and everyone within it.”

The main Merseyside Innovation Award this year was won by Knowsley-based Reach and Rescue for their carbon fibre telescopic rescue pole for emergency services.

To learn more about the Merseyside Innovation Awards visit www.merseysideinnovationawards.co.uk.

STRIVE Project is a Winner at the 2016 North West Business Insider Made in the North West Awards

A three-year collaborative R&D project, STRIVE (Simulation Tools for Rapid Innovation in Vehicle Engineering), which was part-funded by AMSCI (Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative), was set-up to deliver a new digital supply chain to develop globally competitive products. To address the challenges set by OEM client Bentley Motors, the Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC), a University of Liverpool initiative, in conjunction with the Northern Automotive Alliance (NAA), brought together Liverpool City Region-based technology SMEs OPTIS, DNA Agile and Valuechain.com to provide collaborative, integrated solutions.

The Award application highlighted the huge success of STRIVE for all partners, including job creation, career development and meeting Bentley’s key strategic target of reducing product development time, while enhancing build quality through the implementation of bespoke virtual technologies into the Bentley Motors process.

The ‘Made in the North West’ Awards recognise the manufacturing excellence within the region. The judges were impressed by the collaboration with Bentley, which helped to reduce product development time while enhancing build quality, commenting that to have such a facility on our doorstep was a huge boost for the North West.

Professor Ken Badcock, Executive Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, said about the Award:

“The Award is a great example of where the VEC is driving transformational change in leading UK industry through research-led innovation.”

Mark Harding, Manufacturing Project Leader for Continental & Flying Spur at Bentley Motors added:

“The positive impact on the business gained from the deployment of the new toolsets at the Bentley site has been a direct result of this innovative collaboration between us, the University’s Virtual Engineering Centre and agile North West based SMEs. Existing ‘off the shelf’ hardware and software solutions, including toolsets already in use, did not offer the ‘step change’ we have achieved through STRIVE to reach our strategic goals including reducing the development timescale from 54 to 48 months. The STRIVE project has also resulted in the creation of new highly-skilled roles and safeguarded over 40 jobs at Bentley.”

Carol Holden OBE, Chief Executive of the Northern Automotive Alliance, project lead for STRIVE, commented: “The STRIVE project demonstrates how collaboration between companies – especially SMEs, universities, and OEMs can be highly effective. Such collaboration is something that the NAA encourages; as a result of the STRIVE project all SME partners have experienced growth within their businesses, both in terms of revenue and jobs created. Optis has achieved an increase of 11 jobs, and Valuechain.com) employing 4 new people in and important sector for the region. Following the project, Value chain.com have exciting plans for new business and supply chain intelligence solutions and will be growing the teams in their new offices at Infolab 21 based at Lancaster University and at the Innovation Centre based at SciTech Daresbury.

First tenant for flagship enterprise zone development

Expansion and product development have prompted Lymm-based Conveyor Networks to relocate to the new Techspace office and laboratory development at Sci-Tech Daresbury.
Established in 2009, Conveyor Networks provides warehouse software and automation solutions to retail and e-commerce businesses in the UK.

The company has signed terms to become the first tenant in Techspace Two, one of two sister buildings being built on the site. The project was supported by the ERDF programme 2007-2013.

Together with Techspace One, it will provide 56,000 sq ft of speculative Grade A office and laboratory space at the Sci-Tech Daresbury Enterprise Zone. Work on the developments will be completed this summer and is part of a £20m investment into the site including development of the public realm and campus infrastructure, as well as the new buildings.

Conveyor Networks Managing Director David Carroll said the combination of engineering and high tech expertise at Sci-Tech Daresbury offered the perfect fit for his business, which was seeing increased demand for software and technology-led logistics solutions as well as growth in its core automation business.

Conveyor Networks’ current offering is based on a solid understanding of automation and its ability to create efficiency savings throughout the logistics process.

The company’s expertise has driven the successful development of its IMIO warehouse software suite, which is in place at e-retailers such as QVC, WHSmith and Debenhams.

Conveyor Networks’ business goals for the next five years focus on growth driven by new product development, excellent customer care and the ability to understand and react to developments in logistics and e-commerce.

Conveyor Networks will occupy the ground floor of TechSpace Two when it takes up its tenancy, locating 16 staff at its new home. The new space means the business can take advantage of the opportunities for networking, developing its partner base and adding more value to its offering.

Mr Carroll added:

“The pace of change in logistics is fast and it’s crucial for us to stay ahead of this and offer customers long-term partnership and support. We’ve already seen the benefits of the connections at Sci-Tech Daresbury which have helped us develop initiatives quickly and cost effectively.”

Techspace One is a three-storey 46,000 sq ft building consisting of Grade A office space along with wet and dry laboratory facilities, each on its own floor. It is expected to attract companies from sectors such as biomedical, material science, instrumentation and clean technology. The building includes high-speed internet connectivity and will provide accommodation of between 900 sq ft and 2,400 sq ft units.

Techspace Two is a two-storey self-contained Grade A office building providing 10,000 sq ft of space. It will provide companies from sectors such as digital/ ICT, advanced engineering and clean technology with their own ‘front door’ at Sci-Tech Daresbury.

The Enterprise Zone status of both buildings means that tenants will be eligible to benefit from five years’ relief on local authority business rates.

Sci-Tech Daresbury is a private-public joint-venture partnership between developer Langtree, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and Halton Borough Council.

John Downes, Managing Director of Langtree, said:

“Speculative office and laboratory developments are rare in the current market but we were very confident that the compelling offer which Sci-Tech Daresbury represents would prove attractive to tenants.

“Techspace represents the very highest standard of workspace for high growth companies, with both requirements for specific technical facilities and to be part of a technology community where collaboration and innovation are at the heart of enterprise.

“We are delighted to welcome Conveyor Networks as our first Techspace tenant and look forward to supporting them as they continue their exciting growth journey.”

Experience the wonders of science at Daresbury open day


Try your hand at programming mini robots, or immerse yourself in a virtual world, complete with tracked headgear and gloves, as you race against the clock to change the wheel of a sports car with the latest in simulation technologies.

It’s Daresbury’s first public event on this scale in over a decade and this is a rare opportunity to get up close to some of the world’s most spectacular and powerful science experiments. There will be tons to see and do at this fantastic free family day out.

You could be exploring one of the most advanced particle accelerators dedicated to cancer therapy research, or the world’s most powerful supercomputing facilities dedicated to industry, where new models of car are designed. You could even walk through a life-sized, section of the Large Hadron Collider tunnel; either way there will be something for all the family.

Daresbury Laboratory is one of the UK’s world leading science campuses. It is part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and is located at Sci-Tech Daresbury, between Liverpool and Manchester.

Some of the world’s best scientists and engineers work at Daresbury and many come from across the globe to solve problems that will benefit our health, the environment, industrial challenges as well as teach us more about our universe and the world we live in. We work closely with researchers from major international science experiments, including from CERN in Switzerland, the home of the Large Hadron Collider.

Professor Susan Smith, Head of the Daresbury Laboratory said: “This is a fantastic and rare opportunity to explore behind the scenes and see first-hand where some of the world’s most pioneering, Nobel Prize winning, research takes place.

“Visitors can meet the scientists and engineers behind the pioneering technologies we use every day, from supercomputers to MRI scanners. This is the first time in 10 years that we have opened our doors to this extent and we are putting everything into this to make it a fantastic family day out, with loads of opportunities to enjoy some real, hands-on science fun.”

As well as the chance to explore Daresbury’s facilities, there will be marquees and exhibitions located around the campus where visitors can delve deeper into the science and technology carried out at STFC’s other UK locations, including a next generation telescope exhibition, and our Central Laser Facility, which has lasers capable of recreating the conditions inside stars.

Many other activities will be on offer for children and adults alike during the open day including:

  • Classic car exhibition
  • A trip to the top of Daresbury Laboratory’s iconic Tower
  • Have your photo taken in infra-red
  • Lego robot workshop
  • The Chelsea Flower Show award winning Dark Matter Garden
  • Other hands-on activities from our science outreach partners at the Catalyst Discovery Centre and Techniquest Glyndwr.

The public open day forms part of a week’s programme of events, including two days dedicated to school visits, when schoolchildren will come for a day of exciting activities, tours, workshops and fun with science. There will also be a corporate day to demonstrate the positive impact of emerging technologies for businesses.

The Daresbury Laboratory Open Day promises to be a unique opportunity to see behind-the-scenes of cutting edge scientific research and discovery. All of the work, people, and technology that go into the ‘Eureka’ moments will be displayed for all to see, and will bring visitors closer to the science that impacts on our everyday lives.

Small businesses set for lift off at new Daresbury space tech centre


Located at Sci-Tech Daresbury, and funded by the UK Space Agency, the centre will be part of a network of six new regional business incubation centres in the UK, and will play a key role in the drive to grow the UK share of the global space market to 10% by 2030.

Michael Norris, Head of Business Incubation at STFC said:

“STFC has a strong track record in small business incubation, so we are thrilled to be setting up a brand new space business incubation centre here at Daresbury; it will be a fantastic opportunity for small businesses and entrepreneurs from across the North West to develop innovative new products to meet the needs of the UK Space sector, and to benefit from being involved in what is a multi-billion pound industry.”