Durham academic wins accolade for business success


A Durham University academic, Professor Brian Tanner, has been awarded The Queen’s Award For Enterprise Promotion. It is the UK’s highest honour which can be awarded for success in business.

Professor Tanner is Professor of Physics and Dean of Knowledge Transfer at Durham, and the award recognises his 30 year involvement in both national and international business enterprise promotion.

Professor Tanner has led the development of an enterprise culture at Durham University, which has had a significant impact on technology transfer and the development of local companies and businesses.

Durham University spin-out companies have profited from his work, including the North East Technology Park (NETPark) and Kromek Ltd, a company which Professor Tanner co-founded and of which he is a Director.

Kromek Ltd, valued at £70 million, commercialise semiconductor materials into security screening, medical imaging and industrial inspection applications. Professor Tanner was also involved in Reinnervate, a biotechnology company specialising in enabling technologies for use in cell growth and functions.

The Blueprint Competition was founded by the professor, which has created over 200 businesses since it began seven years ago. The competition is open to Durham students and graduates and provides significant support to competition winners each year.

In his role as Dean of Knowledge Transfer at the University, Professor Tanner has responsibility for Enterprise, Business Relations, and Technology & Knowledge Transfer. His work with spin-out companies goes back to 1978 when he co-founded Bede Scientific Instruments Ltd, based in Belmont, Durham.

Professor Tanner said: “We have developed a culture at Durham University which encompasses enterprise. It has led to successful spin-out companies, licensing and major strategic partnerships with industry. Commercialisation of research results is seen as a proper part of academic work. I’m very proud of this for many reasons, not least in the creation of new jobs founded on the University’s knowledge base.

“I am also proud to be associated with the Blueprint competition and student entrepreneurs. Graduates are increasingly seeing self-employment as a realistic option and we have household names amongst our successful alumni entrepreneurs”.

Professor Chris Higgins, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said: “Durham is a world top-100 university with research at its core. We are delighted to be creating and supporting new entrepreneurs who are setting up successful businesses and spin-out companies based upon innovative research ideas developed at Durham”.

Durham University’s strengths in research and development have also led to a partnership with leading consumer product company Procter & Gamble. The company named Durham as “best in class” academic partner at an international awards ceremony in 2011.

Professor Tanner’s Queen’s Award follows further international recognition for Durham University in December 2011 when Professor Mike Bentley was awarded the Polar Medal by the Queen.

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