Chinese research contract helps Derby's SCITEK develop
A Derby firm has expanded its workforce and is moving to bigger premises after securing a lucrative Chinese contract.
Research and development specialists SCITEK won the deal to supply a £1.2m neutron radiography machine to the Chinese Research Institute last year.
And a Chinese VIP delegation, joined by experts from across the East Midlands and representatives of UK Trade and Investment, recently visited Derby to see the final testing of the 11 metre-long system - which creates 3D images of the interiors of objects to identify items including corrosion in aircraft components - before it was packaged ready for shipment to China.
Since winning the contract, helped by UKTI, SCITEK has increased staff from 17 to 20 and is now looking at marketing similar systems to South Korea and Japan.
They are moving from a 5,500 sq ft premise at Jubilee Parkway to 22,000 sq ft purpose-built premises in Raynesway, to allow the firm to house its manufacturing facilities and provide new laboratories, test areas and office facilities.
And the company expects to increase its workforce by 50% in the next five years as they work on developing business with Chinese high technology companies and new markets in Europe and the US.
The system, created with input from Derby’s RadSci Consultancy, uses neutrons to build up three-dimensional pictures of the interiors of static objects or operating machinery. The technique is similar to X-rays and can be used to identify things like the make-up of, or damage within, archaeological objects.
UKTI expert advisers have worked with the company since 2005, enlisting the help of China specialist, Min Rose, and RadSci's John Rogers.
Dr Marios Christodoulou, MD of SCITEK, said: “Exporting is vital for the growth and sustainability of our company, accounting for 50% of our overall sales.
"We are now looking at other overseas markets that might be interested in this exclusive design, with potential customers in South Korea and Japan.
"UKTI have been a fantastic help and I’d encourage anyone looking to increase their business to get in touch with them."
Peter Hogarth, regional director for UK Trade & Investment East Midlands said: "Our expert trade advisor, Peter Stevenson, has worked alongside the company for seven years, helping them complete this deal.
"He has enlisted all manner of specialists from across the region along the way to help them through the export journey; providing information and help on everything from payments to training and from language barriers to delivery.
"It’s fantastic to see the project come to fruition. The process will now have an enormous knock-on effect on the local company, increasing their opportunities overseas, and the local economy, providing more jobs for local people.
Exports for the East Midlands have hit £4.6bn for the first quarter of 2012, increasing the annual export figure to £17.83bn in goods alone. This is the highest level exports have been since before the recession hit, almost achieving the highest annual value ever.
Sales to Asia and Oceania, principally India and China, are at their highest level ever, breaking through the £1bn barrier for the first time.