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North East BIC welcomes third laboratory business this year

A new North East business which uses innovative technologies to quantify the source of bacteria in bathing waters is the latest tenant to move into the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC).

The company, Prokarya, moved into laboratory space at the BIC just this month and managing director, Gregg Iceton, believes his company has a revolutionary approach to microbial source tracking as well as identifying bacteria, Gregg explains: “We offer two services; the first is tracking the source of bacteria in bathing waters, reservoirs or any other water sample. The second is identifying what kind of bacteria are within a sample and linking that to in the performance of bioreactors such as sewage treatment works.”

The company became established in May after Gregg completed the S.T.R.E.A.M programme, which enables talented researchers to develop their skills and careers, while obtaining an Engineering Doctorate (EngD), Gregg continues: “As far as I am aware there is no one in the UK offering microbial source tracking at this resolution. The food industry do offer a related service identifying meat species but it’s more to do with food safety and integrity of the supply chain. There are some companies offering DNA sequencing, but no one is offering a full analysis service.

“This source tracking benefits everybody. As there will be less exposure to bacteria, public health will be improved. You could also argue that local economies could benefit because if a beach gets the coveted Blue Flag, tourism could increase. The general public will benefit as there will be no need to spend money on additional treatment or storm water tanks if the pollution isn’t coming from there, which is what I can prove.”

After viewing the space available at the BIC’s Gregg was certain this 14 acre site was the place for him: “The BIC looked like a friendly place that provides help and support to businesses and that was a definite plus for me. It has a community spirit here and that was appealing, plus the lab space was everything I needed.

“My main focus currently is to bring awareness that there is technology out there as well as establishing myself in the market place.”

Prokarya joins two other recent laboratories who have taken space at the BIC; Biosignatures took residency in September as well as a cancer diagnostic company, Arquer Diagnostics, who also have a presence in Cambridge.

Senior space adviser, Donna Surtees, added: “Gregg’s business is the third laboratory we have welcomed to the BIC this year, his comments are very complimentary because a business community is exactly what we aim to create. I wish his business all the best for the future and I look forward to seeing him grow at the BIC.”